Solidarity with the "indignant" in Spain: The future belongs to the working class!

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Solidarity with the "indignant" in Spain: The future belongs to the working class!
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The discussion that follows was prompted by the article: Solidarity with the "indignant" in Spain: The future belongs to the working class!. The discussion was initiated by kinglear.
Below is the discussion so far. Feel free to add your own comments!

This is a heart warming and

This is a heart warming and spirit raising article full of good stuff, clearly and well expressed in good English. (I get a bit fed-up with folk complaining that the ICC can't decently express itself.) This is a particularly good bit.

In these assemblies, everyone can speak up, express their anger, hold debates on different questions, and make proposals. In this atmosphere of general ferment, tongues are set free; all aspects of social life are examined (political, cultural, economic...). The squares have been inundated by a gigantic collective wave of ideas that are discussed in a climate of solidarity and mutual respect. In some towns “ideas boxes” have been set up, containers where anyone can write down their ideas on a piece of paper. The movement organises itself with a great deal of intelligence

Tongues being set free, and waves of ideas inundating the squares, reminds me of Rosa L. describing the transforming effects on workers of participation in Mass Strikes. The optimism of the article leaps from the screen, and one just hopes that it isn't what some would call an example of the ICC's tendency to 'idealize'. There is no reason to suppose that it is, it seems a real enough piece of reporting. It's just that it's good news after a lot of bad! And we all long for more. So much. The time is over-ripe.


I agree in general with the direction of of King Lear’s comments. The presentation by the ICC of the struggles in Spain is indeed well argued and inspiring..

No, I don’t think it’s an ‘idealist’ interpretation of events: it’s the struggles themselves – in their historic context, by the nature of their location, and in concurrence with movements from France, Greece, Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere – that tends towards a positive interpretation: of a description of ‘the world waking up’.

I’ve seen the observation that “the struggles of the working class are ‘behind’” the necessary ‘riposte’ to the gravity of the crisis. True at one level, but banal at another: they are what they are.

And what, IMO, we’re seeing in different continents, and in different contexts, is largely driven by that young, unemployed section of our class which has ‘nothing to lose but its chains’. What’s encouraging, in all these countries and regions, is the attempt  by this sector to link with those currently in employment. This, an implicit (ie as yet  largely unconscious) instinct to unite the entirety of the proletariat, together with  the recognition of the international dimension of the current struggles, and the attempts at the self organisation of the movement, represents an immense, intact potential.

It’s true, as the statement says, that this is no ‘revolution’ and that it is just a moment in a process. But a welcome and necessary one.

I’d like to hear of any ICC involvement in moments of the movement in Spain. I regret the stupidity of the Libcom admins in censoring this ICC article (it’s been “unpublished” – a wonderful Orwellian/Stalinist phrase from the ‘libertarians’)  - and would welcome further comments.

tendency to 'idealize'

kinglear wrote:
The optimism of the article leaps from the screen, and one just hopes that it isn't what some would call an example of the ICC's tendency to 'idealize'. There is no reason to suppose that it is, it seems a real enough piece of reporting. It's just that it's good news after a lot of bad! And we all long for more. So much. The time is over-ripe.

I am not sure that it is a tendency to 'idealize', but I think this piece as, with some of the articles on the situation in North Africa and the Middle East seems overly optimistic, and skirts over the absence of the working class as a class. There is a massive difference between our article and the article by the ICT: Clearly one of the two is very wrong here.


Either Or?

“Clearly one of the two is very wrong here.” (Devrim)

“The deeper social aspirations that young people are trying to bring to the streets are basically legitimate, and we must support them by participating actively in the demonstrations and encouraging the expansion of the protests.” (from the ICT article).

“Clearly” the ICT sees something ‘positive’ (ie proletarian) in the Spanish events. You can’t ‘encourage and expand’ an aimless or bourgeois movement.

I don’t think either article is, in itself, ‘wrong’. Perhaps a case of ‘glass half empty or glass half full?’

It’s just that the ICT article is somewhat formulaic (IMO) whereas the ICC piece is situated in the 2010 strike movement in Spain, as well as events elsewhere in Europe,  MidEast, Greece and N Africa.

half full or half empty?

KT wrote:
I don’t think either article is, in itself, ‘wrong’. Perhaps a case of ‘glass half empty or glass half full?’

If that is the case then I think that they are both wrong. At the moment the glass is neither half full or half empty, but just has a few sips in it at the bottom.

KT wrote:
whereas the ICC piece is situated in the 2010 strike movement in Spain, as well as events elsewhere in Europe,  MidEast, Greece and N Africa.

Which I think that the class content of has been massively overestimated.



Half a pint, please

Yes, I agree it’s difficult. To estimate a ‘balance of class forces’ or to ‘measure’ the ‘class content’ of this or that movement, at this or that moment, is no easy task. It’s open to fraternal discussion, like this one.  Presumably, we all take in to account historical and global events, as well as immediate, local movements, and the relation between them.

“The working class has not yet presented itself in these events as an autonomous force capable of assuming the leadership of movements...” (ICC International Review 145 “Only the Proletarian revolution can save humanity from the disaster of capitalism”)

This statement (27.3.11) deals mainly with events in the MidEast and North Africa. However, IMO, it applies also to Spain and Greece. The situations are all different. The situations are all linked. It's a framework which, IMO, does not "massively over-estimate" the class content in general, although we can agree/disagree about its application to this or that country.

The question, for me, is this: in the evolution of recent (ie last decade) events (history of crisis; history of struggle) was the recent movement in Spain something positive (if still lacking in proletarian autonomy) or something negative (a recuperation, a ‘vent’) for the ruling class? I think the former. And you, Devrim? Or for others?

The working class doesn't yet

The working class doesn't yet present itself as an autonomous force, and anyway there are conflicting accounts presented of what is happening. Devrim and Alf have comecup with contrasted depictions of what is happening n Athens. One is encouraging the other not. But even if the class is actively present in the events in Greece and Spain ( or elsewhere) is their any useful leadership around to help clarify the chaotic situations?On Revleft recently Coach Trotsky asked the following important question, which I hope it's okay to quote.   Join Date: Jun 2011 Location: MidWest USA Organisation: Formerly RWL/US and BAMN Posts: 25 Rep Power: 0 Reputation: 32 Yes, but do we sit around and wait while the workers spontaneously evolve to understand the need for self-emancipation (or don't, because no one provided leadeship by asserting such an idea)? Do the most politically advanced working people have no duty to provide leadership to the masses of working people...or should we leave them high and dry so they have to learn everything for themselves the hard way and almost certainly fail in their struggles? What happens when no one is providing revolutionary leadership is that the only options for the masses to follow is enemy leadership! Do you think our enemies hesitate to provide leadership? Of course not. They seek to win. So should we. I realize that the numbers of revolutionary militants is small, and they have many things to do, and also that criticism is easy. But isn't some kind of militant intervention in situations like those ofGreece and Spain an absolutely vital necessity? More vital than yet another passionate consideration of what took place at Kronstadt! Though this may be important too. I also realize that translations of texts from Spanish members of the ICC are on the way and may show how much these guys have already done? But the questions posed by the comrade quoted above ie does the class have to struggle to learn everything by itself? and what happens when no one is providing leadership? Are crucial today, are theycnot? And then there's KT's questions. Are these recent mass popular movements contributing anything useful, do they have much in the way of proletarian content? The answer seems to involve guesswork. But what we need is more active involvement and leadership n the ground, rather than the detached armchair commentator approach such as I am engaging in now. Solidarity with all strugglers.

I apologize for the mess Ive

I apologize for the mess Ive made of the formatting in the above post. It was Okay in the preview.

On KT's last question my

On KT's last question my opinion is that overall, taking the last 5 years as a round figure, these expressions are positive elements of a response: the 2006 CPE and 2010 retirement struggles in France, massive workers' struggles in China, Bangla Desh, etc., clear proletarian struggles in Spain and Greece, proletarian youth in Britain, a whole wave of unrest across the Mahgreb and the Middle East against repression and unemployment.

Within these there are very few clear expressions of self-organised independent struggles of the working class but in my opinion this doesn't detract from the positive nature of the development a fight back overall. I don't think that there is a Royal incremental road to the development of struggles that takes a linear path to revolution and even where we've seen clear and high level proletarian struggle, such as Poland 1980, this did not preclude recuperation along the lines of democracy, religion and free trade unions and some subsequent development of inter-imperialist tensions.

Can there be social struggles outside of strikes and are non-exploiting strata excluded from the fight against capitalism. From its analysis of the period of transition the ICC answers yes to the first and no to the second. But these phenomena won't just begin with a proletarian revolution but in the here and now. It does raise questions though about Argentina in 2001 - questions already raised about the nature of the revolt against the Poll Tax in the UK.

 The central question is the

 The central question is the autonomy of the working class.The mass assemblies in Spain are or were not some nuetral terrain but were the site of an important struggle between the proletarian wing of this movement that saw the need to use the assemblies to put forwards the interests of the working class, and the reactionary democratic wing which wanted to drown any proletarian initiative in a sea of democratic illusioins and manipulations by up and coming new generation of bourgeois politicians who have are using the Demoracy Now in order to build their own careers. Whether these movements are something positive or a vent depends on the ability of the proletariat to impose itself upon them. It is a question of a balance of forces. It appears that now in Spain the movement is in decline and the assemblies are being turned into hollow shells with no real life: the danger now is that they will be used to undermine the very idea of self-organisation.

Such assemblies based on inter-classist dynamics are going to be unstable battlegrounds between the two main classes: the proletariat and bourgeois. The other non-strata will have to decide which to follow: The proletariat also has to be conscious of the need not to allow itself to become submerged in such movements.This was shown clearly in Egypt where the decisive moment in the movement there did not come out of Tahrir Sqaure but from the workers going onto their own terrain. It was fear of the proletariat taking up its leading role in the social struggle that made the bourgeoisie move.

 I think both the ICC and ICT

 I think both the ICC and ICT describe the current situation in Spain in a more or less concrete way. Both of them recognize the minoritarian proletarian movement within the social movement while acknowledging the dominant bourgeois ideologies and organizations within these movements.The difference is what aspect of the complex situation is highlighted for the international working class.

The ICT I think focus on the dominant bourgeois side of the movement while the ICC seems highlighted the proletarian side which the world proletariat can learn for the future struggles. In my opinion this is not "idealization" but just highlighting the emergence and their efforts to be heard within the broad movements. 



For what it's worth I agree

For what it's worth I agree with internasyonalista. However, this:

"The movement, in fact, appears a lot more varied than the descriptions usually given. It is marked by a deep social malaise with its roots in the particular characteristics of the Spanish production system..."

from the ICT artical stands out. I wonder if any ICT comrades could develop these bits in bold (I will leave a comment at the original article). Of course everyone else feel free to comment as well. As an aside, I think the ICC article is enthusiastic and dare I say exciting to read though I don't think it is over the top. Getting the balance right between what is happening, what could, optimism and reservation surely will always be difficult and a challenge.

Some thoughts Prompted by the Discussion

A few thoughts prompted by the discussion above.

First: While some comrades (myself included) agree that existing ICT and ICC articles on Spain share a basically positive view of events (while emphasising different elements) it should be noted that the two organisations do not share the same view of the overall state of the class struggle today. In fact they disagree about the fundamental, global balance of class forces as expressed in struggles over the past 40 years.

On the ICC’s part, these differences of appreciation have been explored in a series of polemics on the Historic Course (  I mention this in response to King Lear’s fear that assessing the balance of class forces could largely be the result of “guesswork”.  As these polemics show, there is a ‘marxist method’ to be applied. See also the article in Internationalism 158.

 Second: Of course revolutionaries should not just analyse these events but intervene in an attempt to influence them to the best of their abilities. I don’t think there’s any disagreement here.

Third: on the actual Spanish (and Egyptian) events: Comparing  these to, say, the French riots in 2005 (see International Review 124, ‘Riots or Revolution’), or certain ‘food riots’ of 2008 - essentially described by the ICC as dead-ends - recent events appear to provide a far more favourable terrain for both the working class and its militant minorities to make their mark. As the ICC’s article says, the very methods employed (assemblies, tendency to self-organisation, etc) already bear the influence of proletarian practice.

Nonetheless, as Ernie argues above (and as the IR 124 article insisted) the situation in general, and such assemblies in particular demand an autonomous response from the working class  if they or others that will inevitably follow are to evolve in a positive direction

Trying to read an article by

Trying to read an article by Communist Theory on libcom, about the Ultra Left, I had to give up. But it did contain a marvelous paragraph from The Holy Family as follows:"The propertied class and the class of the proletariat present the same human self-estrangement. But the former class feels at ease and strengthened in this self-estrangement, it recognises estrangement as its own power and has in it the semblance of a human existence. The class of the proletariat feels annihilated in estrangement; it sees in it its own powerlessness and the reality of an inhuman existence. It is, to use an expression of Hegel, in its abasement the indignation at that abasement, an indignation to which it is necessarily driven by the contradiction between its human nature and its condition of life, which is the outright, resolute and comprehensive negation of that nature." I suppose it's a well known passage. But what struck me is the use of the word "indignation".