20th Congress of Révolution Internationale: Building on the acquisitions of the ICC

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jk1921
20th Congress of Révolution Internationale: Building on the acquisitions of the ICC
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The discussion that follows was prompted by the article: 20th Congress of Révolution Internationale: Building on the acquisitions of the ICC. The discussion was initiated by jk1921.
Below is the discussion so far. Feel free to add your own comments!

jk1921
Its encouraging to read that

Its encouracging to read that RI admits that the ICC was wrong about Germany as the most likely candidate to form a new bloc opposing the U.S. But the article leaves a few things unanswered here: Was it wrong at the time this analysis was initially developed or have the objective conditions of imperialist anatagonisms changed since then? Was the ICC wrong to interpret the thrust of U.S. imperialist policy in the immediate aftermath of the fall of the Wall as "attempting to encircle Germany" through the Gulf War, etc.? Or was this a correct assesement and the central antagonism between the U.S. and a potentially emerging Germany has been transcended by the rise of China since then? Also, I don't know if it is credible to say "nobody could have envisioned this at the time." That seems like a bit of a cop-out. Also, the article leaves the issue of China's rise a little undeveloped. Is there a genuine possibility it could lead a rival bloc to the U.S.? What are the limitations on China's "rise" that would work against this? It seems that there is a tendency to try to view these issues through an older lens of" pure imperialist anatagonisms" that misses some things that may be specific to the current historical period, i.e. the kind of  (as Baboon artfully put it elsewhere) death dance between the U.S. and China, in which their economies are so mutally interdependent that neither can risk seriously destabilizing the other. Is it possible that there is a possible countervailing logic to the older "pure imperialist" one at work today? Something that reflects a new kind of inter-state logic corresponding to the seriousness of the crisis? Must it be the case that decomposition is marked by a pure "every man for himself" logic at this level? Many unanswered questions here.....

It was also good to see RI tackle the issue of the tasks and role of revolutionaries, citing the primary task as that of building the organization. There is a tremendous confusion--one might say incredulity--on this point among the searchers and it is important that this point be developed further. What are the implications of this? What does this mean for how revolutionaries "intervene" in struggles? What does this say about our goals and above all perhaps our expectations? What is realisitc? What is practical? What is our metric to judge our activities, etc. Are "realism" and "pragmatism" the correct yard stick?

Finally, I am still not entirely sure what the ICC is doing with the "science and scientists" thing. It sounds odd to me to hear anthropologists sort of casually referred to as "scientists" without any qualifications. There are deeper issues regarding the weight of academic authority and its relationship to revolutionary praxis that are completely glossed over and I wonder if the potential problems inherent in this turn to academic authority are even grasped at this time?

 

 

 

 

baboon
RI Congress

Was the ICC's analysis of Germany and its imperialist role wrong at the time? At the time it wasn't a prediction but a hypothesis and the possibility was always hedged with qualifications. German imperialism showed its intent in its diplomatic push into areas of ex-Yugoslavia in the early 90's  where it mainly succeeded in tripping a European war. If it burnt its fingers here then it continued to "intervene" through Croatia and then into Albania. Today we see a much more assertive German imperialism but not a bloc leader for all the reasons given by the ICC at the time: the loosening of the cement of the fear of a shared and dangerous enemy; the competing national interests coming more to the fore and expressed in contingent, unstable alliances; a tendency for everyman-for-himself. For similar reasons, the ICC didn't give much credibility to the idea of a military bloc around the EU opposing the Americans - there were too many divergent interests. The "Victory of Capitalism" was an enormous and very powerful campaign of the democratic bourgeoisie's that the latter tied in with the "end of history" and "peace". It was a powerful blow against the working class and its perspectives so it was first of all vital to address this question, ie, had anything really changed? For the working class and the oppressed masses, nothing except more misery and the misery brought about by the even more unbridled appetities of imperialism only getting worse. There was talk about the "encirclement of Germany" (and don't forget that Czechoslavia was chopped in half by the British and Americans when Germany started to move in. Also the US has invested heavily in the Polish military to this day); but the first Gulf war was more a US warning to all of its "allies" to toe the line .

I think it's right for the ICC to say that it didn't see China coming. Everything is not controlled nor predictable. Unpredictability is one of the aspects of the decomposition of capitalist relations but I think that the general tendencies of the "New World Order" were laid out very clearly, very quickly - as the Congress says from the previous analysis of the ICC and other marxist elements. That the US and China are tied together economically is no barrier to imperialist tensions building up and eventually becoming serious - they are part of it. But China in no way has a bloc around it and has a long way to go to confront the US. But it's imperialist ambitions are clear as the excellent text on imperialism in Asia shows.

I agree with jk and the Congress about the primary task being the deepening and survival of the organisation. We can bemoan the absurdly small numbers and scope for activity but the survival of a revolutionary organisation of the working class is something of a daily victory.

I agree with the report with about scientists. None of us are professional scientists but we can look at these questions, anthropology and so on, and I think it's important to do so, always with method, without thinking that we have nothing to say or to deepen on these questions. This has never been the approach of the workers' movement.

jk1921
True

baboon wrote:

That the US and China are tied together economically is no barrier to imperialist tensions building up and eventually becoming serious - they are part of it. But China in no way has a bloc around it and has a long way to go to confront the US. But it's imperialist ambitions are clear as the excellent text on imperialism in Asia shows.

This is true. The "old logic" of inter-state imperialist tensions continues to exist, but the question is if in this historical period there isn't something else ontop of it--global economic interdependency that engenders the kind of "death dance" you've talked about before. I just wonder the extent to which this vision of "every man for himself" all the time has become dated? Right now, nobody seems to have an interest in destabilizing the U.S. although China could do it at any moment if it wanted to by dumping U.S. bonds onto the open market. In fact, it has been suggested that Russia approached China about doing just this in the run up to the 2008 finanacial crisis, but the Chinese politely declined as they recognized the implications for their own stability that would result. There is much punditry that says the day is coming when the US dollar will no longer be the world's reserve currency, but it is not clear what the alterative would be? For whatever reason, the rest of the world is incredibly reluctant to pull the plug on ole' Uncle Sam, regardless of how much debt he is in. Even though the U.S. credit rating was slashed as a result of the 2011 Debt ceiling debacle, its borrowing costs remain incredibly low in world markets. Do we need different theoretical tools to understand this?

In regards to Germany, how do we understand the fact that it is no longer the main potential threat to U.S. hegemony? Is this simply because China has surpassed it? Or have the dynamics of the EU acted to kind of trap Germany in European regional affairs (serving as the lender of last resort for the Eurozone) in a way that has stymied its broader, global ambitions? Its still not clear that we have a very good analysis of just what the EU is all about anyway.......

 

mhou
It sounds like realpoltik has

It sounds like realpoltik has collided with the limits of the nation-state as the best organization of the bourgeoisie.