The ICC as a Fraction, IR 156

18 posts / 0 new
Last post
Link
The ICC as a Fraction, IR 156
Printer-friendly versionSend by email

This is an important text giving an orientation for future activities of the ICC.  It appears as an organisation statement that significant changes to intervention even from resolutions of recent congresses.  It changes the way the organisation is to behave in the coming period.  Yet it has been ignored by sympathisers  and has not been elaborated by the organisation (as far as I am aware) and the promised second part of this document has not appeared.

 

I must say I am confused by this document as it focuses on long historical justifications without explaining and justifying the change clearly in terms of the period or of a change in the ICCs approach to intervention from relatively recently.  The ICC appears to be now adopting a role as a Fraction but I am struggling to understand the reasons and the possible consequences.  What does this role mean and what is the political justification for this change ie what is the analysis of current situation leading to this outcome.

 

I have previously made the statement on this forum that the ICC has given up on its role as ‘pole of regroupment’ and drew no criticism or rebuttal.  The ICC has simply avoided explaining or clarifying its direction.  It would appear however to tie in with this new role of the Fraction.  Im afraid I do need this explaining further but it appears to be a role of analysing previous events to determine lessons for the future.  OK not a problem, that is always a role for militants but it is presented as a primary role in the context of a downturn of struggle and the inability of a revolution organisation to have an impact on the class-

 

So, is it being said that the class has been defeated in the past couple of decades or is this change just a response to a downturn in struggle and if so why has it taken so long to realise this ?  Im afraid it remains very unclear what analysis is being made of the current period and how that justifies this course of action.  Is this going to be an extended period of balance of wc and the bourgeoisie where neither can impose its will?  Is the class a defeated class and is the Bourgeoisie able to move towards war? Is the perspective of the historic course altered in some way or even rejected. 

 

One contradiction I see is that this period of decomposition is still being called the final crisis of capitalism in the texts.  However if we now enter a new period where this new role for the organisation is based on recognition of a defeat of the class,  then surely for this to be the final phase, the ICC is really denying that neither a period of world war nor a period of revolution can follow. Can this current period of downturn of struggle not be followed by a revolutionary period and whats more cannot that be following either by a period of  wc power or a period of restoration of capitalism (or barbarism)?

 

There clearly are changes in the world that need analysing but im afraid that the ideas presented in these texts do not clarify them for me.  No one in the 1970s was expected such an elongated period of low class struggle, so does this result void the theory of the historic course to war or revolution or is it just a new wrinkle to analyse.   

 

There is clearly a downturn in class struggle that, with hindsight, negates the idea of the 80s as ‘Years of Truth’.   I personally would stress the  current low level of struggle is a product of enormous impact of nationalist ideologies.  The referendum, the hullabaloo around it and the responses to current migration levels demonstrate clearly how the Bourgeoisie has taken the initiative today and sets the agenda for events.  In this content there is clearly an impact on the abilities of militants to intervene in class struggle but the text leaves me with the uncertain impression that  ICC is saying the working class has now been defeated?

Alf
a response is certainly needed

Thanks Link for your thoughts on this report, and the other report on 40 years of the ICC. I think they merit reflection and a considered response, perhaps in an article rather than on this forum. But we will indeed respond. 

Link
Thanks Alf if thats what

Thanks Alf if thats what you'd prefer thats fine.  I am still interested to see responses to the various points i made. Whilst i didnt try to make a balance sheet myself nor probably put enough emphasis on the strengths achieved by the ICC, I was just putting forward discussion points and remain rather disappointed however that no one has responded either to the original articles or the points i raised from outside the organisation let alone from within.

 

lem_
how to make friends and influence people

Quote:

None of us, and especially the ICC, are in a position to tell the working class and poor farmers what to do or how to do it right now, much less continually promise

what a lot of bullshit IMO. wrapped up with a taoist saying (in translation)?

you don't need to be a genius to work out what's gone wrong with capitalism. and afaik nowhere are the icc claiming to know what really to do about it.

indeed it looks like you mean the exact opposite; that you mean the icc have no right (??) to publish criticism of capitalism, because they're not active enough in your "milieu".

if anything they seem a vanguard against degenration in "the milieu". not that i care why you're here, but it kinda looks like your shrill incoherence is an example of that

lem_
i despise pretty much

i despise pretty much everyone on libcom like nothing else. imo they just have no right to call themselves proletarian, and their "milieu" is the social environment of the morally and intellectually deficient.

i want nothing to do with any of this, screw you all and the sad fucks that bred you

Demogorgon
Abuse

Lem, that sort of blatantly abusive language is not acceptable. Please desist.

baboon
Here's a few words I wrote to

Here's a few words I wrote to the meeting on the subject raised by Link;

 

Contacts meeting, 26.3.16

Sorry I can’t make it. Some scattered thoughts on the texts follow which I’ve only just read properly.

I was a bit surprised first of all that the same old problems were persisting and, according to the texts, had got somewhat worse: “a catastrophic breakdown”, “a lack of reflection and in-depth discussion”, the question of clannism and the circle spirit, etc. Given that the widest discussion possible has been the hallmark of the ICC, in line with the Italian Fraction, then this seemed a clear regression over time. However, it should come as no surprise that similar problems still exist because there are the same fundamental class questions at work with links to both the proletarian perspective and the bourgeoisie’s actions. In this framework even a relatively novel expression of problems such as today’s parasites are expressions of the class struggle that go back very early in the history of the workers’ movement – as the ICC has shown in its much-derided text on the subject. There’s not much new under the Sun as far as the general aspects of the class struggle are concerned but it’s the approach to them that is important.

The weaknesses outlined in the texts in the Review have the potential to be strengths and by the rigour of their overall approach and the trenchant nature of their analyses this looks to be the potential case; it’s a profound defence of revolutionary organisation.
These problems, which also existed during the revolutionary wave of 1917, are continually identified as immediatism and overestimation of the economic crisis and class struggle (along with the potential influence of revolutionaries) and the underestimation of the bourgeoisie and its development of state capitalism. The fact that, in general, these problems were expressed in 1917 shows – as does the experience of the ICC – that high levels of class struggle do not solve problems for revolutionary minorities and any chink in their armour will be pierced given the persistence of those weaknesses and the lack of a firm framework. Immediatism in the ICC, a permanent weight and danger for the struggle, is expressed at different levels; from the integration of new elements into the ICC who were not ready and left to maintain a certain autonomy from it, to the immediatism shown in the distaste for theory, to the immediatism and overestimation applied to the class struggle. I don’t think that this was initially helped with the idea that the proletariat in the early ICC period was “running out of time”. These are not errors or mistakes limited to the ICC but the whole of the workers’ movement as immediatism gives rise to opportunism and the infiltration of bourgeois ideology and the bourgeoisie itself. We saw this clearly in WR and elsewhere with the (Chenier provoked) tendency towards rank-and-file unionism leading to national limited strikes and a loss of internationalist perspectives. But with these texts the ICC in my opinion shows that it is ready and able for the long haul in not quite the circumstances that anyone imagined.

I like the idea of the ICC as “a fraction of a certain type”. The ICC has not broken from a degenerating revolutionary organisation and exists/suffers from particularities as do other left communist organisations and, as the texts say, the ICT must be confronted over what appear to be historical regressions (decadence, etc). The ICC is not the new party, not a mini-party nor a break with the Party – we are well past that stage - but I think that “Current” sums up its job, position and dynamic well. I think that the suggestions about morality look very positive and must say that I was shocked when first reading about the attitude of some communists towards Rosa Luxemburg in recent texts. Moral and political decay seems to go hand in hand within Social Democracy. In this sense it is also important to maintain clear, class lines that delineate the Current (or any organised element of the proletariat) as a foreign body within capitalism; and it has to remain so. The ICC, with the living link of MC, reappropriated its history almost from nothing and its militants, even in their over-exuberance, hit the ground running with, frankly, not much of a clue except that history of the class with the help of MC. Not a party but a link between past and future, i.e., preparation at a deeper level. This organisational heritage, even with a physical break, was as important to the ICC as the development of positions (crisis, imperialism, class struggle).

I won’t repeat stuff about the role of a fraction except to say it’s well laid out in the texts in all its historical depth through the RSDLP, the Dutch and German Lefts and particularly the Italian left and GCF. I think that the idea of factory cells, still supported today by the ICT, is an enforced and failed attempt to bridge the gap, the division between revolutionary theory and the class and is an expression of the persistence of one element of immediatism.

The ICC has undoubtedly made theoretical advances even from its position of relative weakness; the collapse of the eastern bloc, the international situation, deepening on decadence (even with the “China syndrome”) and particularly on the analysis of decomposition. But it has shown weaknesses on the Machiavellianism of the bourgeoisie (another greatly mocked text) and the idea economic liberalisation of capitalism afforded by the conditions for the extraction of surplus value and the developments of state capitalism which have continued unabated from the 30’s and 40’s. The ICC altered the course to revolution (linear, mechanical, fated) to class confrontations but, according to the texts, fundamental problems remained in this respect. This is where the widest possible discussion is necessary with nothing being a taboo subject (one doesn’t have to be directly intimidated to feel that one can’t raise certain questions). The expected – or half-expected – crash of capitalism didn’t happen and it’s essential that the ICC address this as it has done quite profoundly with these texts.

The initial rapid growth of the ICC got everyone feeling good but a lot of it was based on the sort of 68 petty-bourgeois euphoria.  Now that’s evaporated things are more serious as the ambience is one of decomposition which can favour a councilist-type approach. The class, its youth, doesn’t look to be in throes of mobilisation for war but there are still great dangers and the texts point a “workerism” or an “economism”. There is also, very much, the factor of the bourgeoisie which responded even to the relatively mild and “classless” “Arab Spring” with “imperialist barbarism” as the text says.

Baboon, 21.3.16
 

Amir1
What current period we are

What current period we are in? or better ask how many period from 1917 till now we passed? I want to know, differences of fraction with the” pole of regroupment” is it true that fraction role mean class has been defeated

Alf
defeated?

  Since more than one comrade has asked the question about whether talking about the ICC being' like a fraction' means that we think the class has been defeated, I refer comrades to the section on the historic course in the report on the last 40 years of class struggle presented to the same 21st congress that adopted the other two reports mentioned by Link. Summed up very rapidly: we don't think that the proletariat has been defeated, although it is certainly facing mounting difficulties, perhaps on a qualitatively higher level than anything since the opening of the post-1968 period. So the task of the revolutionary minority has to adapt to these changing conditions and perhaps should have done so from the outset of the phase of decmposition at the end of the 80s. We don't say the ICC is now a fraction but that its task is 'like' that of a fraction, to indicate that we are not in the same period as in the 1930s, even if there are some important similarities.  

 

***********************************************************************************

 

 The historic course

The situation looks very grave indeed. Does it still make sense to talk about a historic course towards class confrontations? The working class today is as distant from 1968 as 1968 was from the beginnings of the counter-revolution, and in addition its loss of class identity means that its capacity for re-appropriating the lessons of struggles that may have taken place decades ago has diminished. At the same time the dangers inherent in the process of decomposition – of a gradual exhaustion of the proletariat’s ability to resist capitalist barbarism – do not remain static but tend to amplify as the capitalist social system falls deeper into decay.

The historic course has never been fixed in perpetuity and the possibility of massive class confrontations in the key countries of capitalism is not a pre-arranged staging post in the journey into the future.

Nevertheless, we continue to think that the proletariat has not spoken the last word, even when those who have spoken have little awareness of speaking for the proletariat.

In our analysis of the class movements of 68-89, we noted the existence of certain high points which provided an inspiration for future struggles and a yardstick to measure their progress. Thus: the importance of 68 in France in raising the question of a new society; of the Polish struggles of 1980 for reaffirming the methods of the mass strike, of the extension and self-organisation of the struggle, and so on. To a large extent these were questions that remained unanswered. But we can also say that the struggles of the last decade or so have also had their high points, above all because they began to raise the key question of politicisation which we have identified as a central weakness of the struggles in the previous cycle. What’s more the most important of these movements – such as the student struggle in France in 2006 and the revolt of the Indignados in Spain - posed many questions which demonstrated that for the proletariat politics is not about whether to keep to dump the governing bourgeois team but about changing social relations, that proletarian politics is about creating a new morality opposed to the dog-eat-dog world of capitalism. In their ‘indignation’ against the waste of human potential and destructiveness of the current system, in their efforts to win over the most alienated sectors of the working class (the appeal of the French students to the ‘banlieu’ youth), in the leading role played by young women, in their approach to the question of violence and police provocation, in the desire for passionate debate in the assemblies, and in the incipient internationalism of so many of the movements’ slogans7, these movements shook a fist at the advancing tide of decomposition and affirmed that passively yielding to this tide is not at all the only possibility, that it is still possible to respond to the no-future of the bourgeoisie, with its incessant attacks on the perspective of the proletariat, with reflection and debate about the possibility of a different kind of social relationship. And in so far as these movements were forced to raise themselves to the general level, to pose questions about every aspect of capitalist society, from the economic and the political to the artistic, scientific and environmental, they provided us with a glimpse of how a new “great cultural movement” could reappear in the fires of revolt against the capitalist system.

There were certainly moments when we tended to get carried away with enthusiasm for these movements and to lose sight of their weaknesses, reinforcing our tendencies towards activism and forms of intervention that were not guided by a clear theoretical starting point. But we were not wrong in 2006, for example, to see elements of the mass strike in the movement against the CPE. No doubt we tended to see this in an immediatist rather than a long term perspective, but there is no question that these revolts did reaffirm the underlying nature of the class struggle in decadence: struggles that are not organised by permanent bodies in advance, that tend to spread rapidly throughout society, that pose the problem of new forms of self-organisation, that tend to integrate the political with the economic dimension.

Of course the great weakness of these struggles was that to a large extent they did not see themselves as proletarian, as expressions of the class war. And if this weakness is not overcome, the strong points of such movements will tend to become weak points: a focus on moral concerns will decline into a vague form of petty bourgeois humanism that falls easily into democratic and ‘citizen’ – i.e. openly bourgeois – politics; assemblies will become mere street parliaments where open debate around the most fundamental issues is replaced by the manipulations of political elites and by demands that fix the movement within the horizon of bourgeois politics. And this of course was essentially the fate of the social revolts of 2011-13.

The necessity to link the revolt in the street with the resistance of the employed workers, with all the various products of the working class movement, and to understand that this synthesis can only be based on a proletarian perspective for the future of society, which in turn implies that the unification of the proletariat must include the restoration of the connection between the working class and the organisations of revolutionaries. This is the unanswered question, the unfulfilled perspective posed by not only by the struggles of the last few years, but by all the expressions of the class struggle since 1968.

Against the common sense of empiricism, which can only see the proletariat when it comes to the surface, Marxists recognise that the proletariat is like Blake’s sleeping giant Albion whose wakening will turn the world upside down. On the basis of the theory of the subterranean maturation of consciousness, which the ICC is more or less alone in defending, we recognise that the vast potential of the working class remains for the most part hidden, and even the clearest revolutionaries can easily forget that this ‘slumbering power’ can have a huge impact on social reality even when it has apparently withdrawn from the scene. Marx was able to discern that the working class was the new revolutionary force in society on what seemed like scanty evidence, such as a few strikes by French weavers who had not yet completely gone past the artisan stage of development. And despite all the immense difficulties facing the proletariat, despite all our overestimations of the struggle and underestimations of the enemy, the ICC can still see enough in the class movements over the past 40 years to conclude that the working class has not lost this capacity to offer humanity a new society, a new culture, and a new communist morality…

Alf
should we kill ourselves?

More to the point, why is it necessary for you to come onto this site (again?) and tell us to commit suicide? 

Demogorgon
Political suicide

I think it's quite clear Alf meant political suicide, i.e. disbanding the organisation.

Quote:

I'm one of the few left on the planet who DOESN'T think you all are psychotic, but even I am starting to question that.

This is a classic rhetorical technique, effectively saying "Look, I support them, and even I think they're crazy - therefore, they're crazy". However, it only has traction if you're actually a supporter and given your belligerent tone, the fact you're a newcomer on the site, and no-one knows who you are, we have no reason to believe you're a supporter at all.

If we do know you, as you seem to imply, why don't you tell us?

Quote:

The ICC people need to stop pretending they are any more significant than say Black Lives Matter, focus on the fact that the organisation failed to achieve any of its goals set forth in the 1970s and stop this awful game of charades

If you mean significant in terms of influence in the class, then you're right. We have none. We know that. But when Marx wrote the Poverty of Philosophy in response to Proudhon, he had zero influence as well. Proudhon didn't even bother replying because Marx was a nobody. But Marx's ideas were significant and came to influence the entire workers' movement. Why can't that one day be the case again with the communist left?

Quote:

I'd put you to shame in a *public* debate, Alf. You know where to find me.

Why would Alf know where to find you? Who are you? If you've posted here before, why the new name? I've spoken to Alf and he doesn't know who you are (although, again, he has suspicions).

You can't get more public than an internet forum. And why would we debate you elsewhere when we have our own site to run? Are your arguments somehow going to be more coherent and logically sound if the debate takes elsewhere?

And where is this place that we can find you? I seriously doubt there are many places who would give two proverbials about a debate between the ICC and someone who (until you explain who you are) is a complete nobody and therefore even more irrelevant than we are.

So, why don't you just say who you are and get on with putting us to shame?

Demogorgon
Who cares? Sam seems to!

And, yet, Sam, you seem to care a great deal. I can't help but wonder why? We may be irrelevant to the wider world, but we seem very relevant to you. You seem to very much want us to give up.  You seem almost desperate for us to give up. The fact we may want to keep going in the face of such absurdity seems incomprehensible to you. Why should you care about us allegedly keeping sympathisers out? Surely, from your point of view, it's better for them to do something more important with their lives than waste time on our "three little letters"?

In any case, until you're honest and open about who you are and have something a bit more substantive to say, I see no reason to continue this conversation.

baboon
I've got a feeling of deja

I've got a feeling of deja daja vu.

Fred
confusion

Sam is confused. He bothers me. Perhaps I'm confused as well. Perhaps Demogorgon is confused too. On this thread he unquestioningly sticks up for the ICC and the revolutionary potential of the working class. On another thread he makes it sound as if the current decomposing material state of capitalism renders revolution out of the question. He might say well I can think two different things at once if I want; or that this seeming dualism is actually part of the dialectic at work. But it all just adds to the confusion of a most confusing moment in humanity's history when everything is collapsing but on the other hand there is at least the feeling of the possibility of a door swinging open out of the chaos. For isn't crisis said to be an opportunity too? World War 1 might be such an example. 

The ICC itself is in crisis - or has it just survived one and emerged? We don't know. It's another confusion. It writes marvellous inspirational paragraphs about proletarian future perspectives in one place,  but then piles the gloom on with a spade somewhere else. Is there not a middle way between these two? I think the ICT tries to find a middle way but suspect the ICC dislikes this or resents it. I don't know. It's another confusion. 

I think Sam is frustrated by the confused messages emanating from the ICC and is angry. He insists he doesn't care about the ICC. Anymore. Anymore has been added by me. Sam doesn't say it, but it's implicit. Rather than worrying about who he is and verifying  his identity  the ICC might  consider seriously what he's trying to say and try to answer that. At heart he resents what he sees as the failure of the communist left to exercise any influence at all, though in a way he knows that's not altogether true.   It's all confusing.

Who would have thought the Silesian workers would have such an effect on history and on Marx?  

As Demogorgon points out - Sam says he doesn't care but appears to care deeply. Like more than  a few of us do. 

Demogorgon
Quote:Perhaps Demogorgon is

Quote:

Perhaps Demogorgon is confused too. On this thread he unquestioningly sticks up for the ICC and the revolutionary potential of the working class. On another thread he makes it sound as if the current decomposing material state of capitalism renders revolution out of the question.

I didn't say revolution was out of the question. Nonetheless, decadence has always contained the threat that capitalism in decay can destroy the potential for revolution. These threats can take many forms. During WW1, Luxemburg wrote: "But to push ahead to the victory of socialism we need a strong, activist, educated proletariat, and masses whose power lies in intellectual culture as well as numbers. These masses are being decimated by the world war. The flower of our mature and youthful strength, hundreds of thousands of whom were socialistically schooled in England, France, Belgium, Germany, and Russia, the product of decades of educational and agitational training, and other hundreds of thousands who could be won for socialism tomorrow, fall and molder on the miserable battlefields. The fruits of decades of sacrifice and the efforts of generations are destroyed in a few weeks. The key troops of the international proletariat are torn up by the roots."

Today, it isn't war that is cutting down the international proletariat of the central countries (although war ravages many other parts of the world) but the slow, insidious advance of social decomposition. Decomposition isn't just a etheric angel of doom floating somewhere out there but has material bases, some of which I tried to identify on the other thread.

We said in the theses on decomposition, "time is no longer on the side of the working class ..." We also said "Today, the historical perspective remains completely open." That was written twenty seven years ago. If we were in any way right about decomposition, then simple logic demands that we acknowledge that the historical perspective cannnot possibly be quite as "open" as it was back then. Thing have got harder for the working class and will continue to get harder.

In the Theses, we looked to the economic crisis to provide the stimulus for a recovery in the class struggle. Now, with hindsight, we can see that even the most dramatic crisis since the Great Depression was not sufficient to impulse a dramatic turn in the situation. That's not to say there was no response from the class, but the response was weak and dispersed, and quickly absorbed. History knocked on capitalism's door in 2007, but it was the bourgeoisie that answered, not the working class, which has come out of the last decade weaker than it was before.

I'm sorry you find this "gloomy" but those are the simple facts of it. We're not priests, patting people on the head, telling them everything will work out in the end. We want to understand the reality of the historical situation so we can put our meagre resources where they will have best effect.

Nowhere do we say, however, that all hope is lost. On the contrary, we maintain that the working class still retains revolutionary potential. The positive side of the events over the last few years is that class did attempt to respond to the financial crisis. This indicates a latent potential that can still be actualised if conditions allow. As long as that potential remains, revolutionaries have both the motivation and responsibility to work towards that actualisation.

Quote:

It writes marvellous inspirational paragraphs about proletarian future perspectives in one place,  but then piles the gloom on with a spade somewhere else. Is there not a middle way between these two?

There’s an irony that while calling for a middle way, you exhibit black and white thinking yourself. The perspective is either inspirational or gloomy. As I’ve tried to demonstrate, identifying positive and negative trends in the class struggle is neither new for Marxism or the ICC, and nor is it necessarily theoretically contradictory or incoherent. It is to do with a dialectical and contradictory processes in society.

Quote:

Rather than worrying about who he is and verifying his identity,  the ICC might  consider seriously what he's trying to say and try to answer that.

Which we would have done, had “Sam” approached the discussion with any modicum of good faith. Instead, he’s played games – he hides his identity on the one hand, while claiming we know him the next. He’s used weasel words to call us all psychotic, while claiming to support us. This is fundamentally dishonest and not the actions of someone who really wants to debate the issues. If “Sam” is serious, the conditions for him to pursue discussion have been set out and they're hardly unreasonable. Of course, if “Sam” turns out to be someone who – for sake of argument – has spent the last year slinging mud at the ICC at every opportunity, has a history of using false names, of being abusive, and of making very serious false allegations against the ICC and individual comrades both in and outside the ICC, then I think we are well within our rights to tell him he’s burned his bridges with us. At the very least, such a person would need to demonstrate a profound reversal and re-evaluation of their behaviour before we would ever consider investing any time in them.

After all, don’t we have enough on our hands, trying to understand and answer the very serious critiques made by comrades like Link, jk1917 and others?

baboon
Let's not mix up Sam -AKA,

Let's not mix up Sam -AKA, AKA, with serious political discussion. He's an unrequited lover turned into a stalker (there must be a word for it in internetese). Feeling turned down and rejected by the thing that he thinks he loves, he wants to destroy it, he wants it to die. This is a feature of some stalkers who are driven in this way. Let's not imagine that there's any political discussion to be had here. This man is dangerous.

Fred
Thank you for your detailed

Thank you for your detailed reply  Demogorgon.  And thanks baboon for your refinement of Oscar's "Each man kills the thing he loves." Your elaborated version cuts to the bone.  "Each man kills the thing he thinks he loves." 

petey
i recognize that dog by the

i recognize that dog by the wag of his tail. baboon's take in post 25 is closest to the truth, as i have experienced myself on another board. there is political discussion to be had there but it is buried under other issues. you're well rid of him.