20th ICC Congress: Resolution on the international situation

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Fred
20th ICC Congress: Resolution on the international situation
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The discussion that follows was prompted by the article: 20th ICC Congress: Resolution on the international situation. The discussion was initiated by Fred.
Below is the discussion so far. Feel free to add your own comments!

Fred
the condition of the world

Section 8 and 16 caught my attention in this lengthy statement.  Section 8 deals with the awaiting disaster of global warming and the multitudinous effects of environmental destruction brought about by the mindless  bourgeoisie in pursuit of profit.  The ICC see all this as "apocalyptic" as indeed it is. I was reminded of the film "The Day after Tomorrow" where the melting ice caps switch off the Gulf Stream by the intrusion of fresh water into the sea, thus  triggering a new ice age.  Not good science say some.  But a possible"tipping point"  say others who are studying the rapid increase of melt down in Greenland.  

Section 16 deals with the 5 streams.  This is a  metaphor  for recent social events which may or may not indicate proletarian movement but in a not altogether anticipated form.  Questions about the development of consciousness are raised in connection with this, but so far I have found this a bit difficult to cotton onto.  But back to the 5 streams.  They appear to flow separately.  Will they join together and flow in Amazonian style down to the great sea of communism?  Or will they flow stingily and separately out Into a kind of Namibian waste land and there dry up?  Your subjective point of view could come into play here and influence your conclusion.  

 

But this is what the ICC has  to say on the topic.

Quote:
 16) It’s in this context of crisis, of decomposition and the fragile subjective state of the proletariat that we can understand the weaknesses, insufficiencies and errors as well as the potential strength of the struggle, confirming us in our conviction that the communist perspective does not derive in an automatic or mechanical way from determined circumstances. Thus, during the last two years, we have seen the development of movements which we have described with the metaphor of the five streams:

 Social movements of young people in precarious work, unemployed or still studying, which began with the struggle against the CPE in 2006, continued with the youth revolt in Greece in 2008 and culminated with the movement of the Indignados and Occupy in 2011; Movements which were massive but which were well contained by the bourgeoisie preparing the ground in advance, as in France 2007, France and Britain in 2010, Greece in 2010-12, etc; Movements which suffered from a weight of inter-classism, like Tunisia and Egypt in 2011; Germs of massive strikes as in Egypt in 2007, Vigo (Spain) in 2006, China in 2009; The development of struggles in the factories or in localised industrial sectors but which contained promising signs, such as Lindsey in 2009, Tekel in 2010, electricians in the UK in 2011. These five streams belong to the working class despite their differences; each one in its own way expresses an effort by the proletariat to find itself again, despite the difficulties and obstacles which the bourgeoisie puts in its way. Each one contained a dynamic of research, of clarification, of preparing the social soil. At different levels they are part of the search “for the word that will lead us to socialism” (as Rosa Luxemburg put it, referring to the workers’ councils) via the general assemblies. The most advanced expressions of this tendency were the Indignados and Occupy movements - especially in Spain - because they were the ones which most clearly showed the tensions, contradictions and potential of the class struggle today. Despite the presence of strata coming from the impoverished petty bourgeoisie, the proletarian imprint of these movements manifested itself in the search for solidarity, in the assemblies, in the attempts to develop a culture of debate, in the capacity to avoid the traps of repression, in the seeds of internationalism, and in an acute sensibility towards subjective and cultural elements. And it is through this dimension of preparing the subjective terrain that these movements show all their importance for the future.

 

 

A.Simpleton
Tomorrow never knows

Thanks Fred for initiating this discussion: 

( I liked 'The Day After Tomorrow' despite its blockbuster chintz: to my chagrin, the scene that sticks in my mind is the one where the 'doomed' English 'chap' at the equally doomed meteorological outpost rejects the idea of pouring the single malt Balvenie into the generator to keep it going for a few pointless hours, but pours three glasses instead ...)

 

I think the resolution genuinely describes, identifies aspects, and gives good response to the equally genuine stalemate 'bewilderment' that both the class and milieu (and certainly simpletons) are living through.

By which I mean : a stalemate (in chess) is a stalemate, is a stalemate: there is no move possible that resolves it: just 'check'/'move out of check'/check'/'move out of check'/ ad infinitum.

But the history men make is not a game of chess. What 'drew my attention first' was the facing up to the 'vergegenstandliche Faktum' that seems more and more the case : are The Proletariat even a Klasse an sich - Class in themselves' any more : and without that 'actual pre-condition' the context for becoming a 'Klasse fur sich - Class for itself' is very much changed - is it 'radically changed' .

From the Resolution:

'..... the proletariat doesn’t recognise itself as a class.....'

'.....This translates itself into a “crisis of confidence” of humanity. Furthermore the aggravation of the crisis through the spread of unemployment and precarious working has weakened the socialisation of young people and facilitated the tendency to escape into a world of abstraction and atomisation.....'

'... can consciousness develop without class identity or will the latter emerge from the development of consciousness? The development of consciousness and of a historic perspective are rightly associated with the rediscovery of class identity, but we cannot envisage this developing bit by bit in a rigid sequence: first forge your identity, then struggle, then become conscious and develop a perspective, or some other order of these elements. The working class today does not appear as an increasingly massive pole of opposition, so the development of a critical stance by a proletariat which still doesn’t know itself is more probable.' (my emphasis AS)

I feel I should add that crdes - notably jk - have been chipping away at this new 'unprecedented' context in many posts on many threads: this resolution takes on board those valid questions.

Marx wrote re the innately unstable, self contradicting nature of the Capitalist mode: (Capital : vol I)

'Along with the constantly diminishing magnates of Capital , who usurp and monopolize all advantages of this process, grows the mass of misery, oppression, slavery, degradation, exploitation: but with this too, grows the revolt of the working class, a class always increasing in numbers, and disciplined, united, organised by the very process of capitalist production itself ' (my bold AS) 

Decadence and Decomposition surely change this dialectic connection:from positive to negative : the very process of capitalist production becomes undisciplined, dis-united, dis-organised, and with this so does the growth of revolt of the working class...

The riddle is not solved :'confluence' not guaranteed but I agree with the ICC's statement that;

These five streams belong to the working class despite their differences....

AS

Fred
Tomorrow might know

Isn't it a bit surprising that no one wants to talk much about this article?  Or is it all going to happen later?  As you say AS "tomorrow never knows". 

 

Turn  off your mind relax and float downstream, as Lennon suggested.  It is not dying....but it could be couldn't it .  If we all turn off our minds what happens to the proletariat's necessity to change the world, and if we don't change it we'll all be dead.  And if you turn off your mind as advised, what guarantee is there that you can ever get it turned back on?  As to floating downstream...well this can be fun, if you've got a well-packed and expensively stocked lunch box, with pricey wines and a joint or three, but all there is right downstream is the big and beautiful waterfall to oblivion. Is this what we all want?  Maybe! It's tempting. But it's all we  get in the end anyway,  so why the rush?  Can't we achieve something worthwhile before  getting there?  That's the question facing us all now.  

 

I was was amazed to discover all the stuff that's been written about this song - Tomorrow never knows- on the web, and the complicated techniques used to produce and record it.  Heavy and heady names like Stockhausen are mentioned with regard to it, and it's one of the most famous songs of the sixties, so they say.   But was it all rampant "modernism"?

 

Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end.  But they did of course.  They  were the tail end of the counter revolution, the period of reconstruction too, after the 2nd. World Massacre,  and ushered in the cold reality of austerity and all that has followed as we struggle to emerge like the Israelites from 40 years wandering in a miserable wilderness, and struggles that have achieved little. Or so it seems.  One step forward, two steps back, like a dance.   Is it 40 years largely wasted?  But, like the Israelites (Desmond Dekker - remember him?) do we begin to see the promised land and the Celestial City at our journey's end?  I think perhaps we do. I like to think we do. 

 

Wikipedia wrote:
 "Tomorrow Never Knows" is the final track of the Beatles' 1966 studio album Revolver but the first to be recorded. Credited as a Lennon–McCartney song, it was written primarily by John Lennon.

 The song has a vocal put through a Leslie speaker cabinet (which was normally used as a loudspeaker for a Hammond organ). Tape loops prepared by the Beatles were mixed in and out of the Indian-inspired modal backing underpinned by Ringo Starr's constant but non-standard drum pattern. The song is also one of the first uses of a flanging effect on any instrument. It is considered one of the greatest songs of its time, with Pitchfork Media placing it at number 19 on its list of "The 200 Greatest Songs of the 1960s."

  So there!  

 

 

MH
Responses? Debate?

 

Fred wrote:

Isn't it a bit surprising that no one wants to talk much about this article? Or is it all going to happen later?


Yes, I’m a bit surprised too, Fred, but I’ve also noticed that the previous and closely related thread on ‘indignation at the heart of the proletarian dynamic’ has gone quiet too, just as we finally got to the ‘heart of the matter’ – the question of whether the proletariat is still capable of making a revolution given the depth of capitalist decomposition – and despite the fact that ernie made two very extensive and well-thought out responses to the questions raised by jk.

I also notice that the ‘indignation’ thread got fewer reads than recent ones on music and tv programmes. Is this forum finally being affected by some of the issues identified in the discussion on 'red marx' and other fora?

Anyway, assuming the discussion gets going again I think it may now be better to take up the issues raised in the ‘indignation’ thread in this one on the congress resolution as it obviously takes up many of the same questions.

Not easy to find a way into the rich content of the resolution but I think the following is certainly one of the key points for me, referring to the possible convergence of the ‘five streams’ of struggle identified:

To understand this perspective of convergence, the relationship between class identity and class consciousness is of capital importance and a question arises: can consciousness develop without class identity or will the latter emerge from the development of consciousness? The development of consciousness and of a historic perspective are rightly associated with the rediscovery of class identity, but we cannot envisage this developing bit by bit in a rigid sequence: first forge your identity, then struggle, then become conscious and develop a perspective, or some other order of these elements. The working class today does not appear as an increasingly massive pole of opposition, so the development of a critical stance by a proletariat which still doesn’t know itself is more probable. The situation is complex but it is more likely that we will see a response in the form of a general questioning which is potentially positive in political terms, starting off not from a sharply distinct class identity but from movements which tend to find their own perspective through their own struggle…”

I suspect for some comrades one of the immediate questions raised will be the capacity of revolutionary organisations today to actively intervene in this process of 'general questioning' and the evidence for a process of reflection actually taking place in the class.  (btw good to see Rosa's "ocean of phenomena" of the mass strike namechecked in the resolution - I had my usual self-doubt after posting on the relevance of the mass strike to this debate...).

 

slothjabber
suck it and see?

The question of whether the working class is capable of throwing off the shackles of bourgeois ideology and asserting its own class interest - and how it might do it - probably is 'the heart of the matter' but unfortunately it's also part of the 'great unknown'. We agree about the existence of various phenomena, but we're not sure about the meaning, and dynamics, and relative strengths, of these phenomena. We can't be certain about them unless they develop. Even then, there's always the argument that 'the phenomena could still develop differently...', and that applies to either side of the discussion - the street assemblies could definitively be recuperated by capitalism; they could develop into seed-beds of proletarian revolution; at the momnent, they are something with potential but no clear dynamic.

 

Two forces are confronting each other, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. Though there are divisions between different factions of the bourgeoisie, the bourgeoisie as a whole is acutely aware of the danger of the proletarait; the proletariat seems to be disorientated, hesitant and disorganised, but fighting nevertheless. We agree that the level of struggle at present is not sufficient, that the proletariat needs to struggle more widely, more massively, more tenaciously; but the question remains open - can the proletariat raise its struggles to the necessary level? Or has it suffered so many ideological and physical defeats that it is not capable of doing so in the relatively near future?

MH
agnostic?

Sloth, you take an ‘agnostic’ view on the balance of class forces today, is that fair? The resolution obviously tries to analyse the present situation and identifies at least a potential for the politicisation of future struggles and their eventual 'convergence'. Is it that you disagree with the analysis presented or simply feel that we can't ever 'know' whether any future struggles will be 'enough'?

 

Hawkeye
Sections 5,6,7 re wars

Capitalist motivation to make profits must surely drive the arms industries to seek more and more orders for its products.  The standard doctrine as per Lenin's 'Imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism' is well known to many marxists in providing explanation for reasons for modern wars, but with the crises of over-production of goods, now weaponry fills some gaps in the parasites' constant search for sources of vast profit.  All sorts of bourgeois political 'justifications' for wars will be repeatedly aired on their mass media to provoke their outbreak.  Somebody, was it Carl Sandberg, once said "Someday they'll give a war and no one will come !"

Fred
ICC wrote:  Despite the

ICC wrote:
 Despite the presence of strata coming from the impoverished petty bourgeoisie, the proletarian imprint of these movements manifested itself in the search for solidarity, in the assemblies, in the attempts to develop a culture of debate, in the capacity to avoid the traps of repression, in the seeds of internationalism, and in an acute sensibility towards subjective and cultural elements. And it is through this dimension of preparing the subjective terrain that these movements show all their importance for the future.
 

What exactly is meant by "subjective" in this phrase - "in an acute sensibility towards subjective and cultural elements"? And what is meant by the expression "subjective terrain"  as in "And it is through this dimension of preparing the subjective terrain that these movements show all their importance for the future"? 

 

An example of a 'subjective element'  and the response to it would be helpful towards  clarification. And have we already begun preparing the 'subjective terrain' and if so where and how? And why is this so important for the future?

 

 I am not asking questions for the sake of asking questions, but because I share MH's self doubt, and perhaps a little of slothjabber's so-called  (maybe unhappily  called?) agnosticism. Neither do I like questions being left "hanging in the air" and think comrades ought really to try and provide answers and/or explanations both for their own and other people's questions - though I notice I myself haven't haven't tried to do  that here!  Although I did try in an earlier post I lost again. 

Fred
fragile subjective states

Let's talk a little about "the fragile subjective state of the proletariat " as the  ICC calls  it. I take it that what this isn't is the enslavement of the class to austerity, financial misery, employment and unemployment both; the precariousness of existence under the dying system;   the ignorance of the fact, or refusal to face the fact, that the system is in fact dying;  the subservience of the class to the demands of the bourgeoisie that it knuckle under to whatever is required to try and revitalize capitalism, and the insistence of the bourgeoisie that any failures the system may manifest is really all the fault of lazy and disobedient workers.  Perhaps we should call all of this "the fragile objective state of the proletariat" in decomposition, and under the pervading influence of bourgeois ideology which sees nothing wrong with the system and finally doesn't even like to acknowledge that we live under a system at all.  Is this our "fragile objective state" today? 

 

Presumably all all this awfulness produces and helps to maintain our fragile subjective state, along with such historical "facts" as the death of communism and the absence of a strong communist party. So is our subjective weakness as workers just that we don't know who we are, see ourselves as mere powerless cogs lucky to have a job, see ourselves as rubbish and people of no consequence;  and as living in isolated pointlessness and in an anomie we aren't even capable of recognizing? Is this, and other similar psychological impositions arising mainly from bourgeois ideology at the root of our "fragile subjective state"? Or is there something else?  

 

Is is it all a failure of consciousness?  Well of course it is!  We don't see ourselves as being in the position we are actually in - we are standing upside down so to speak, but don't know it! - and thus don't even appreciate the need to stand up, and to escape not realizing we're imprisoned.  Is this our fragile subjective state?   We are still accepting ourselves as mere objects at the service of some not altogether identified but not very nice way of life which we can do nothing about till we begin to give it a name; and we don't yet see ourselves as capable of taking charge of our own destiny, freeing ourselves from the prison, and attempting a new start with a new and conscious vision of how we want things to be. 

 

Is is this what a Rosa meant when she said we are looking for THE WORD that will lead us to socialism? What does she mean by "the word" - is it a misprint?  Or does she mean that by seeing and naming our imprisonment, and our anomie, for what it is, that this is the beginning of socialism and the entrance of the road to freedom.

 

Is is this the sort of thing that the ICC  means  by "fragile subjective state" and, if it is, how do we start and/or continue to break through the impasse?  Is it by means of "the 5 streams" for starters?  Is it by challenging our own doubts and lack of confidence in any future?  Our doubts and lack of confidence in the poor old working class who alone can save humanity and the planet if only they and the rest of blind and dumb humanity did but know it.  "Ye Heavens! Give me that confidence; that confidence I need," to misquote King Lear.  It can't ever have happened before that humanity and the world stand on the very threshold of events so mind shattering and breath taking that it beggars belief that most of us still dont know it. Or can't admit it.    

A.Simpleton
rich content

And substance as you say MH : the same with Ernie's equally substantial, wide-ranging but well focussed posts on the 'Indignation ..' topic - 'pulling threads together': he mentioned that it was a formulation connecting quite a few key issues he had considered for some time.

Similarly with the ICC's overview of conditions, the 'bilan' and implications.

Much food to digest and precisely because both threads have cleared the trail to 'the heart of the matter' as you say (and I agree), it takes more time to digest: especially as a new conditions lead to 're-understanding' - as it were: getting out one's own maps to put against the new and get bearings.

Perhaps it has not gone completely quiet and if one listens intently one can hear a few stomachs rumbling.

:@}