On Organisation

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Pierre
I'm keen on Demogorgon not

I'm keen on Demogorgon not trying to DOX communists on the internet. That is what I'm keen on, Fred. Fuck censorship.

baboon you're right I think Fred is intentionally stirring up trouble. And as someone with no official attachment to any of the organizations in the communist left, as someone whose own political temperature is almost impossible to take, I find his persistence in doing that troubling.

Yes myself and others are stirring up trouble too. But don't you know our motivations? I think you do? Do we know Fred's? Am I wrong to suggest we need to? Given his recurring obfuscations of his own positions I think it's a fair request.

I'm not attempting to sow distrust or anything else. Just want Fred to come out of the dark and take state his positions and intentions. Is he a centralist? Does he agree with the ICC's formulations on function or functioning? It's never straight talk from him so his posts bother me, and not exclusively because I disagree with him. He's been very effective at changing the tone and content of internet discussions but I'm not suggesting he's a "spy". Just someone who is less than open about their own political positions.

Just take it from Fred- "I am an admirer of the ICC and I have been since the 70's. That I've never got any further than admiration is due to various factors I won't go into now. "

I've asked ICC militants years ago if anyone knew him and what his deal is. Never got an answer. I find it odd that nobody does.

Pierre
Re: jaycee

jaycee wrote:

Jamal, what specifically do you think has changed since the 90s that means the ICC has gone 'off the path'?

Hey, man. ICC literature in this period doesn't seem to be geared towards heightening the level of communist class consciousness . It's more about proving their right about their positions to everyone they consider legitimate communists. Defending ideals and basically nothing else.

For example, you would think communist analysis of current events would be the most important thing to discuss. Isn't that the point of broadsheet "news"papers? Yet we're lucky to get a "News" story from the ICC once every two or three months. There's absolutely no writing about things happening at the local level either. No "day-to-day" perspective. Far-sightedness.

I think lem_'s post #207 is very good in that he "questions whether this is a reflection of the alleged failures of the ICC, or a reflection of the state of things (of decay etc.)." I also pose this question.

On that basis, and contrary to popular belief (or maybe just the belief of Demo, Fred and baboon?) I don't see the ICC as counterrevolutionary and therefore am not calling for it's destruction. Stagnant and rigid, the facade of monolithism, but certainly not counterrevolutionary. Yet...

lem_
i do think that something

i do think that something extraordinary would have to happen for them to be "counter-revolutionary". 

perhaps if it became an influence upon the working class - but practically or theoretically failed to help in the struggle. i don't buy PBJ's implicit claim that it has already failed - i do not understand how that can be said.

perhaps some kind of perfectionism.

ernie
post by ICC

This (like the previous ones signed by Ernie and Alf) is a collectively agreed statement from the ICC.

First and foremost, we agree with Baboon that Jamal’s attack on Fred can only sow suspicion about the comrade regardless of Jamal’s later disclaimer. Jamal has even compounded the problem by making unsubstantiated allegations about Demogorgon exposing details about him on the internet.

Such attacks are unacceptable on a communist forum, and any more such outbusts will be removed

We call on Jamal to step back from this discussion, to give himself time to reflect. The comrade clearly has a lot of frustrations arising from his relations with the ICC, many of which are due to the crisis we have been going through, but we would ask him to discuss with us, away from all the pressures and stresses of the forum. There is much that needs to be clarified.

We do not want to enter here into the whole question of psychologizing, However, it is important to recall that the question of psychologizing only began when comrade Slothjabber objected to comrade Fred's response to Devrim's statement about the ICC

Why would I make contact with them? I think they are a totally negative influence. I don't think they have anything to offer at all. 

To be honest the sooner the ICC dies off, the better it will be for the communist left”.

Unfortunately so far Slothjabber has not made any direct statement about his opinion of Devrim's outrageous desire for the ICC to die off. Rather he has been more upset by so-called pyschologing. Devrim says we should disappear, no reaction, Fred calls Devrim a romantic idealist and explains the historical reasons for this -

“Bourgeois romantic idealism which ruled the 19th century is being tumbled off its perch in decomposition and austerity.  But the emotional immaturity associated with it is much more difficult to rid ourselves of. For communists, and for the proletariat however,  emotional immaturity - the bourgeois emotionally immature response to life, where money and cheap success are the main motivating factors at play - is not satisfactory and must be thrown off.” - and

Slothjabber accuses him of Stalinist tactics.

We would like to ask Slothjabber for his response to Devrim's call. His posts 190 and 196 would imply he does not want to see the ICC disappear and the sooner the better for the communist left, but as far as we can see -and we could be mistaken- the comrade has not said what he thinks of Devrim's desire for us to die.

We welcome comrade Slothjabber's concern for what he feels is our negative trajectory and his effort to explain what he thinks are the causes; the failure to engage with the class, not enough meetings, reducing the frequency of publications,,retreating to a mountain top, burning bridges with the rest of the communist left, and in particular the idea that the ICC rejects all criticism of itself as unjustified.

However:

- Where have we ever said that all criticism of the ICC is unjustified? This is an idea that has been expressed a lot, but with not a shred of proof beyond comrades’ subjective feelings and impressions. We clearly defend our political positions vigorously, and expect those criticising us to do so with political arguments based on a critique of our positions, and practice. On the other hand, to base a criticism on subjective feelings, gossip or hearsay, is indeed unjustified: surely everyone would agree with that?

- Slothjabber writes“And it is through debate and discussion that these problems will noted, analysed, dissected, and - I hope - solved. Not just the discussions of ICC militants, nor that plus the discussions of sympathisers, or that plus the rest of the Communist Left; they won't be fully solved until the whole of the class is discussing.” Maybe comrade Slothjabber has not read the report of the 21st congress of our territorial section in France, or the Report of the Extraordinary conference last May. They have been published precisely in order that they can be discussed, criticised and reflected upon by the groups of the Communist Left and the working class. We would be very happy to discuss these reports with you, on this forum, by post, e-mail, in person or even carrier pigeon. Unfortunately until now there has been a very limited response on this forum to these reports from those such as Slothjabber, Jamal, and others who have been making various criticisms of us.

As for the reduction in our meetings, publications etc, this has been an essential part of our effort fully understand the crisis we are going through, one of whose characteristics was a slide into opportunistic activism. As we underline in the report of the 21st RI congress this was an expression of a deeper process of moral and intellectual degeneration and sclerosis which threatened to destroy the ICC. We thus repeat the call to readers and participants of this forum to read these reports, which should fill comrades with deep concern about the terrible state the ICC had fallen into; but they can also be a ,source of confidence because the organisation has begun to overcome this crisis through a profound process of political self-critique. It is only by going to the political roots of a crisis that a revolutionary organisation can defend itself. We thus appeal to readers to respond to these reports with their reflections, criticisms, disagreements.

Slothjabber is correct to say that the problems are not only those of the ICC. Groups and individuals are being put to the test by the increasingly corrosive pressure of decomposing capitalism. The only response is to deepen our understanding of the historical mission of the class and how revolutionary organisations function and defend themselves in such conditions, This means the widest possible discussion about the challenges facing the class and its political minorities.

ernie
post by ICC

Ops!!

lem_
Slothjabber - can you explain

Slothjabber - can you explain this idea of "psychologizing" - it's not a term I ever saw bandied around.

I assume that everyone is always "psychologizing" - in as much as we make assesments of someone's reliability, truthfulness, sincerity, usefulness, and etc.

Obviously there is a deep seated preference to showing how someone is wrong, over noticing that they have been wrong before and generalizing that.

But on a fairly informal forum, I don't see how it is always necessary.

The precise psychologizing (accusing a comrade - with whom some of us have had problems with) was "emotional immaturity" - and while it does have an overly retorical sheen to it, and is quite impolite (hah) it doesn't immediately strike me as the sort of saying which we have a practical imperative to avoid ever using.

e.g. if I were to behave in a very silly way - perhaps get over-excited and claim to be a reincarnation of vladamir lenin, you may want to call me "emotionally immature", or "insane", or troubling in any manner of ways.

FTR I have no personal beef with devrim: I did once get accused by him of lying when I was honestly misremembering something... and yes individuals so much clout make me suspcious (call me "suspicious" if you like!). But aside from that - I had neither a poliitical or apolotical gripe with him. Again, I do not sympathise with statements like "the icc shouldn't exist" - I think people should leave that sort of critcism to after it has ceased to exist, and anarchists. I do not find that statement to be an expression of solidarity, either with the icc's militants, or indeed the worker's movement in general. Of course you are welcome to disagree - and claim that it is said in solidarity with communists and proletarians, but I cannot believe it.

Which would somewhat leave at on some impasse. Some part of the communism left thinks the another part of it should not exist... of course that is sad, but as long as everyone respects each other's efforts (if not existence) - then perhaps it is OK.

lem_
BTW I think accusing a paid

BTW I think accusing a paid up member of the communist left of "stalinism" is a little premature... ovbious some of us may turn out to be hugely counter revolutionary, but I think that in our current miniscular and almost dogamtically "left wing" approach, that it is almost impossible.

slothjabber
A reply to the ICC

ernie wrote:

...

We do not want to enter here into the whole question of psychologizing, However, it is important to recall that the question of psychologizing only began when comrade Slothjabber objected to comrade Fred's response to Devrim's statement about the ICC

Why would I make contact with them? I think they are a totally negative influence. I don't think they have anything to offer at all. 

To be honest the sooner the ICC dies off, the better it will be for the communist left”.

Unfortunately so far Slothjabber has not made any direct statement about his opinion of Devrim's outrageous desire for the ICC to die off. Rather he has been more upset by so-called pyschologing. Devrim says we should disappear, no reaction, Fred calls Devrim a romantic idealist and explains the historical reasons for this -

“Bourgeois romantic idealism which ruled the 19th century is being tumbled off its perch in decomposition and austerity.  But the emotional immaturity associated with it is much more difficult to rid ourselves of. For communists, and for the proletariat however,  emotional immaturity - the bourgeois emotionally immature response to life, where money and cheap success are the main motivating factors at play - is not satisfactory and must be thrown off.” - and

Slothjabber accuses him of Stalinist tactics.

We would like to ask Slothjabber for his response to Devrim's call. His posts 190 and 196 would imply he does not want to see the ICC disappear and the sooner the better for the communist left, but as far as we can see -and we could be mistaken- the comrade has not said what he thinks of Devrim's desire for us to die...

 

Well; let's start at the beginning, shall we?

Post 121, from April 16th, under the title "To be honest...!", from Fred

Fred wrote:

...

To go off on a tangent now though.  I think that what we are seeing here in Devrim and Jamal and others before them,  is the disappointment and frustration of Romantic Idealism confronted by faults - real or imagined - in "the beloved". The Beloved in this case being the Communist  Left in the form of the ICC. Idealists identify themselves closely with that which they choose to  embrace and commit themselves too,  which can include  politics.  Their self-respect, self-love and self-esteem is closely linked to the beloved object to which  they have committed continuing to behave  in expected ways that support the idealism underpinning the relationship. 

Disappointment, for whatever reason, can result in the rejection, the hatred and even a  longing for the death of the formerly idealised object of love - a love which includes  respect, admiration and devotion -  because it has proven only human, and fallible and  a shattering individualised disappointment.

 There's nothing more tragic than idealism thwarted. It is the basic underpinning for much of the bourgeoisie's artistic outpourings. It is the very subject of endless operas, romantic poetry and novels...

Post 136, from 17th April, under the title "Psycholgising", from Demogorgon:

Demogorgon wrote:

Very briefly. While I think Fred's points about the psychological movitations that drive comrades to defend certain views or behave in certain ways are valid in a general sense, I also share JKs unease about what they offer to the actual debate. This is a particular problem when this degenerates into an "argument from motivation" fallacy.

Let's assume that X hates the ICC and truly wants to see it destroyed and employs a whole series of critiques in order to do so. While the individual's hatred may be entirely irrational and their aims reprehensible this, in itself, speaks absolutely nothing to the validity of the actual arguments they employ. Just because X "hates the ICC" doesn't automatically mean he's wrong when he says the "the ICC are <insert criticism of choice>". The arguments must be dealt with on their own terrain. The question of why comrades make the arguments they do is, in many ways, a separate question.

Leaving the realms of logic for a second and taking in the human element, we should consider that comrades have expressed some very strong views that need to be taken seriously. Whatever we may think about those views and their method of expression, it is an unacceptable method of debate to imply "they're only saying that because they're angry / disappointed / etc.". It only serves to diminish those views. And, after all, they can simply reply "you're only saying that because you have a demented love for the ICC". That gets us nowhere.

Post 148, from 20th April, under the title “Thanks Demogorgon”, from Slothjabber:

slothjabber wrote:

I'm glad you're continuing to post sense of this thread. I think you're right, psychologising the actions of people who criticise the ICC a dangerous game, as it is all too easy to psychologise in the other direction...

So; no, I don’t think the question of ‘psychologising’ was raised by me. I think it was very well dealt with by Demogorgon. It was only when ernie (post 171) later came back to it that things started to get particularly heated, and then again Alf revisited the question in post 199, further muddying the waters

 

I’ll say again – labelling the critics of the organisation as being psychologically disturbed is a method of Stalinism.

 

This is not the same as saying the ICC is a Stalinist organisation or that Fred is a Stalinist. To me, that would mean that either or both of the ICC and Fred upheld the theory of ‘Socialism in One Country’. I do not think that this is the case. What I have said is that it is a method of the Stalinists – one which I find particularly abhorrent.

 

As to Devrim and my opinion of his statement – or indeed, my supposed ‘lack’ of opinion - that the ICC should disappear…

slothjabber wrote:

... I'm for the ICC when it's right, and I'm against it when it's wrong …

slothjabber wrote:

...

My position is that the ICC is in trouble, but is not yet definitively lost to the proletariat. If that weren't my opinion, I probably wouldn't be here, I'd be elsewhere, doing something more important and ignoring the drama as being irrelevant...

slothjabber wrote:

Those of us who think that the ICC is on a negative trajectory but isn't lost and can reform itself. I'm one. There are others, who can speak for themselves if they like.

If these quotes don’t make my position sufficiently clear (though I don’t know why not, it seems clear to me, though as someone who is trying to communicate I have to assume good faith and if people tell me they don’t understand, I don’t assume they’re mad or lying without good reason, and I try again to be understood): I don’t think the ICC has passed a point of no return. I think it has potential to be a contributor – an ‘active factor’ even – in the generalisation of class consciousness. I do not think that the death of the ICC would be a positive thing for the proletariat. In short, I do not agree on this question with Devrim.

However, I think the ICC is in grave danger of becoming such a negative force that it does become a barrier to the proletariat developing its consciousness. This thread, should one be necessary, is a perfect example of how what is an attempt at constructive criticism is treated as an all-out attack, whereas pretty heinous behaviour from defenders of the organisation is praised. It is behaviour like this that drives people into a position of antipathy, I'd hazard, not bourgeois idealism. If all criticism (however mild, however well-intentioned) is greeted with hostility, what use is there in not being hostile to the organisation?

 

ernie wrote:
...

We welcome comrade Slothjabber's concern for what he feels is our negative trajectory and his effort to explain what he thinks are the causes; the failure to engage with the class, not enough meetings, reducing the frequency of publications,,retreating to a mountain top, burning bridges with the rest of the communist left, and in particular the idea that the ICC rejects all criticism of itself as unjustified.

However:

- Where have we ever said that all criticism of the ICC is unjustified? This is an idea that has been expressed a lot, but with not a shred of proof beyond comrades’ subjective feelings and impressions. We clearly defend our political positions vigorously, and expect those criticising us to do so with political arguments based on a critique of our positions, and practice. On the other hand, to base a criticism on subjective feelings, gossip or hearsay, is indeed unjustified: surely everyone would agree with that?...

It is Fred and baboon in particular who are conflating all criticism of the organisation; their method leaps from ‘some criticism of the organisation is invalid’ to ‘all criticism is motivated by hatred of the organisation’ to ‘all criticism is invalid’.

ernie wrote:
...

- Slothjabber writes“And it is through debate and discussion that these problems will noted, analysed, dissected, and - I hope - solved. Not just the discussions of ICC militants, nor that plus the discussions of sympathisers, or that plus the rest of the Communist Left; they won't be fully solved until the whole of the class is discussing.” Maybe comrade Slothjabber has not read the report of the 21st congress of our territorial section in France, or the Report of the Extraordinary conference last May. They have been published precisely in order that they can be discussed, criticised and reflected upon by the groups of the Communist Left and the working class. We would be very happy to discuss these reports with you, on this forum, by post, e-mail, in person or even carrier pigeon. Unfortunately until now there has been a very limited response on this forum to these reports from those such as Slothjabber, Jamal, and others who have been making various criticisms of us.

As for the reduction in our meetings, publications etc, this has been an essential part of our effort fully understand the crisis we are going through, one of whose characteristics was a slide into opportunistic activism. As we underline in the report of the 21st RI congress this was an expression of a deeper process of moral and intellectual degeneration and sclerosis which threatened to destroy the ICC. We thus repeat the call to readers and participants of this forum to read these reports, which should fill comrades with deep concern about the terrible state the ICC had fallen into; but they can also be a ,source of confidence because the organisation has begun to overcome this crisis through a profound process of political self-critique. It is only by going to the political roots of a crisis that a revolutionary organisation can defend itself. We thus appeal to readers to respond to these reports with their reflections, criticisms, disagreements…

 

You’re happy to discuss your reports into the working class’s crisis and your specific situation in it even though you’re reducing the opportunities to do so because you need to understand your crisis..?

The method seems obviously flawed to me. If you want to deepen your understanding you do that through discussing more not less, and discussing more widely not more narrowly. The rest of the working class may not agree that discussing your idea of what is wrong on your internet forum is necessarily the best use of its time. It may not agree to the framing of the debate. Perhaps, if the ICC had continued to come to forums like the Midlands Discussion Forum, then it might have already been possible to begin some of these discussions. Perhaps, if it had intervened on the Left Communist Network forum, it might have already been possible to begin some of these discussions. Perhaps, if the ICC hadn’t stopped its own public forums it might have already been possible to begin some of these discussions. Perhaps, if it hadn’t withdrawn from contact with some of its sympathisers having decided that they’d ‘gone over to the ICT’ then it might have already been possible to begin some of these discussions. Perhaps if the ICC had shared some of this before it thought had an answer, things may not have reached this state. The ICC cannot have its cake and eat it; it cannot withdraw from discussion with others and then claim that everyone has to talk to it on its terms.

ernie wrote:
...

Slothjabber is correct to say that the problems are not only those of the ICC. Groups and individuals are being put to the test by the increasingly corrosive pressure of decomposing capitalism. The only response is to deepen our understanding of the historical mission of the class and how revolutionary organisations function and defend themselves in such conditions, This means the widest possible discussion about the challenges facing the class and its political minorities.

Excellent. I hope that you’ll actually start to do that, as opposed to turning increasingly inward and alienating your supporters. I look forward to the renewal of the ICC’s attendance at the MDF, along with more public forums, an increase in the frequency of the press, and a willingness to debate outside these forums. I think that the attendance of 2 members of the ICC at the recent ICT meeting in London was very welcome even if there were points of friction on the day; I still think it was worthwhile (for both organisations). Sadly it’s too late for the Left Communist Network, as that forum has been deleted but if the disparate forces of the Communist Left do make any further attempts at finding common ground (any common ground at all) I hope the ICC will be committed to the process.

lem_
> labelling the critics of

> labelling the critics of the organisation as being psychologically disturbed is a method of Stalinism... and abhorent

Thanks for you detailed reply slothjabber, worth thinking about :)

I am not sure if I agree that complaints about someone's character is a Stalinist method, or not.

Alf
different conceptions of organisation

This is another “common” post.

Slothjabber is correct in his precision about the origins of the debate about psychologising. However, we don’t think this alters the substance of what we are saying. It was Slothjabber in particular who used the term Stalinism to describe the reference to psychology, which is why our response was aimed mainly at his posts. We take this accusation very seriously because it is precisely that – an accusation which goes well beyond the framework of “constructive criticism”. Furthermore we don’t think it’s in the least relevant that Slothjabber is not accusing us of defending socialism in one country. Throughout the history of the ICC, those who have thrown the accusation of Stalinism at us have never argued that we defend socialism in one country, only that our organisational practices are Stalinist – that we suppress debate, persecute minorities, and so on. We are perfectly willing to answer these accusations as we have always done in the past. But those who make the accusation should take full measure of the gravity of the charge they are levelling against us.

Since we are probably the only proletarian organisation that takes seriously the idea that the revolutionary minority is constantly subject to the pressures of bourgeois ideology, we certainly accept the notion that Stalinist and monolithic ideas and practices can infect our organisational life. We can point to examples of it in the various crises the ICC has been through. However, we also know that the dominant ideology in the proletarian milieu which emerged after 1968 is anti-Stalinism: the diverse forms of anarchism, modernism and councilism, for whom any attempt to construct a centralised organisation is essentially a sad repetition of the past errors of Bolshevism and of its degeneration into Stalinism. In our experience, the starting point of the vast majority of those who accuse us of Stalinism is a very different conception of organisation – a visceral rejection of the struggle for the party spirit which separated the Bolsheviks from the Mensheviks in 1903 and which has been played out in various forms ever since.

What is the main proof for Slothjabber (as well as for Link and others) that the ICC has embarked on a negative trajectory? The fact that, in responding to our internal crisis (which, in our view, was a struggle against some extremely grave manifestations of bourgeois ideology, of opportunism, within our own ranks), we cut down on the quantity of our external interventions: on the frequency of our printed press, on public forums, on attendance at other meetings and so on.

We have tried to explain that an element in this reduction in our external intervention has been the toll that our crisis has taken on our internal militancy. It is evident that we have lost comrades in the course of this crisis. There are many specific elements in this crisis of militant engagement – not only the huge general difficulties posed by the phase of decomposition, but also serious personal factors like bereavement, illness, family problems, which are often made more acute by the pressures of the period. But the key political element in this loss of militant energies is that a number of comrades have been worn out by the organisation’s slide into activism and this demanded that we step back and review our whole understanding of our role in the present period.

It seems that for Slothjabber, Link, Jamal and others it is precisely this stepping back that has been the problem. It has gone on “far too long” as Link put it. We should have immediately opened out this discussion to the milieu around us, maybe talked about it on the Left Communist Network or at MDF meetings and so on. But this is where we get to the kernel of our differences on the question of organisation. Slothjabber said in a previous post that “An organisation without a publication - or one that, in the case of WR has gone from 10 issues to 4 in a couple of years, and IR seems to have gone from quarterly to annually - an organisation that holds one meeting a year, and then delays it for 3 months, is barely an organisation at all”.

Of course a political organisation that has no external intervention is “barely an organisation at all”. We can dispute the details of Slothjabber’s argument here (for example, the website, which is far more widely read than the printed press, has been maintained throughout our internal crisis) but the most essential point is elsewhere. For us, an organisation which does not have an internal life, which does not see the organisation question as a political question in its own right, which is not serious about developing its own internal debates to the point where it can make a lucid intervention towards the outside - that is “barely an organisation at all”. Or at least, that is the difference between a discussion circle and a militant political organisation. We have always, of course, argued that discussion circles are a necessary moment in the development of class consciousness, but a political organisation is more than a discussion circle, and the distinguishing feature is as much its right and indeed duty to develop its own internal life as its capacity to intervene with a unified position towards the outside. 

Pierre
Alf, pervading the idea that

Alf, pervading the idea that the ICC is the only proletarian organization that takes seriously the idea of the revolutionary minority, and the pressures it is constantly subjected to by this society, is completely disingenuous. It’s pure vitriol. It also incompletely explains the ICC’s inability (generous term, that) to do meaningful collective work with other orgs in the CL.

Slothjabber has only said that using psycho-analysis to counter, or attempt to defeat and surpress, the political arguments of other internationalists is an authoritarian tactic and not proletarian. I don’t see anywhere where he/she/they has outright said “the ICC is Stalinist”. Do you? So why do you respond in a manner that seems to imply that?

How in the world does the ICC “know that the dominant ideology in the proletarian milieu” is anti-Stalinism? For an organization that fetishizes quality over quantity that might clearly seem to be the case. But what backing of scientific facts prove this is true? Has the ICC suddenly acquired a method for quantifying and categorizing the consciousness of parts of or even the whole working class? During its withdrawal no less? Last I checked they didn’t have one and there was serious discussion about whether or not this is even possible. The ICC’s “balancing” has always had the scales tipped in favor of it’s own political ideas.

The problem here is what constitutes the “proletarian milieu”. Without question it’s constitution is a lot less limited than what the ICC implies. Basically that the “proletarian milieu” is the ICC, very limited elements of the CWO and/or ICC splinter groups and no one else.

There is also the question of did Bolshevism really just simply degenerate into Stalinism, as Alf poses, even if cynically? I don’t think so. To quote the American CL group the Communist League of Tampa:

"For these types the Russian question is simply answered with the platitude “absolute power corrupts absolutely”. The fate of the revolution is sealed in Lenin’s What Is To Be Done or even in the ideas of Marx himself. Neither of these will suffice, as such a serious topic requires a more nuanced and historically conscious approach.”

Neither the federalist nor the centralist nor any other models have won us an international communist society. So what the hell is the point of never acknowledging, or outright rejecting, the positive gains and victories made by internationalist anarchists and federalists and others? It’s a method of monolithic, authoritarian, conservative right-wing communism.

The bit about “the toll” life takes on militants is so pedantic I can barely even start on it. We are all poor workers. I’ve dealt with three deaths of immediately family members in the past 18 months. I’ve also been diagnosed with a progressive neuromuscular disease which has already completely atrophied all the major muscle groups in my upper body and is beginning on my abdomen and leg muscles. I’ve literally watched my body evaporate, I’ve lost around 35 pounds in the past year and was already thin to start out with. My commitment to PUBLIC and OPEN discussion, debate and even writing has remained unwavered, and possibly even intensified. If the pains of life in addition to simple political discussion with other LC stresses ICC militants to the point of inaction and withdrawal, you are not militants.

The common vs. official post thing is also worth some consideration. Voices like Alf’s tend to shine through the veil of anonymity the ICC employs from time to time. For example, during my time as a close sympathizer I noticed comrades often use pen names for discussion, and then will employ a different pen name in the ICC press. I find this obfuscates trust, understanding and the plain ability to maintain political thought and discussion in a collective manner. Many of the comrades here I’ve known for years without actually knowing. What is that quote from Lenin about demarcating the lines of march or whatever? If the ICC considers the conservative vs. opportunist/activist dichotomy totally untrue, where are the sources of actual disagreement, then? Which comrades support what?

slothjabber
Waiting for Stalin. And jam.

Alf wrote:

...

Slothjabber is correct in his precision about the origins of the debate about psychologising. However, we don’t think this alters the substance of what we are saying. It was Slothjabber in particular who used the term Stalinism to describe the reference to psychology, which is why our response was aimed mainly at his posts. We take this accusation very seriously because it is precisely that – an accusation which goes well beyond the framework of “constructive criticism”. Furthermore we don’t think it’s in the least relevant that Slothjabber is not accusing us of defending socialism in one country. Throughout the history of the ICC, those who have thrown the accusation of Stalinism at us have never argued that we defend socialism in one country, only that our organisational practices are Stalinist – that we suppress debate, persecute minorities, and so on. We are perfectly willing to answer these accusations as we have always done in the past. But those who make the accusation should take full measure of the gravity of the charge they are levelling against us...

 

And as Jamal says in the post above, if you can point to where I've said that the ICC is Stalinist, meaning either supporting SiOC (which is what 'Stalinist' means) or 'acting in a manner similar to the Stalinist parties' (which isn't what it means, but never mind) then perhaps we can get to the bottom of this. But I haven't. I've accused Fred of acting in the manner of the Stalinists. Because he was. I've accused you and ernie of muddying the waters (after Demogorgon did so much to calm them) by not responding to what was said, but instead what you think or assume was said. And now you've done it again.

 

Alf wrote:

...

 

What is the main proof for Slothjabber (as well as for Link and others) that the ICC has embarked on a negative trajectory? The fact that, in responding to our internal crisis (which, in our view, was a struggle against some extremely grave manifestations of bourgeois ideology, of opportunism, within our own ranks), we cut down on the quantity of our external interventions: on the frequency of our printed press, on public forums, on attendance at other meetings and so on.

We have tried to explain that an element in this reduction in our external intervention has been the toll that our crisis has taken on our internal militancy. It is evident that we have lost comrades in the course of this crisis. There are many specific elements in this crisis of militant engagement – not only the huge general difficulties posed by the phase of decomposition, but also serious personal factors like bereavement, illness, family problems, which are often made more acute by the pressures of the period. But the key political element in this loss of militant energies is that a number of comrades have been worn out by the organisation’s slide into activism and this demanded that we step back and review our whole understanding of our role in the present period.

It seems that for Slothjabber, Link, Jamal and others it is precisely this stepping back that has been the problem. It has gone on “far too long” as Link put it. We should have immediately opened out this discussion to the milieu around us, maybe talked about it on the Left Communist Network or at MDF meetings and so on. But this is where we get to the kernel of our differences on the question of organisation. Slothjabber said in a previous post that “An organisation without a publication - or one that, in the case of WR has gone from 10 issues to 4 in a couple of years, and IR seems to have gone from quarterly to annually - an organisation that holds one meeting a year, and then delays it for 3 months, is barely an organisation at all”.

Of course a political organisation that has no external intervention is “barely an organisation at all”. We can dispute the details of Slothjabber’s argument here (for example, the website, which is far more widely read than the printed press, has been maintained throughout our internal crisis) but the most essential point is elsewhere. For us, an organisation which does not have an internal life, which does not see the organisation question as a political question in its own right, which is not serious about developing its own internal debates to the point where it can make a lucid intervention towards the outside - that is “barely an organisation at all”. Or at least, that is the difference between a discussion circle and a militant political organisation. We have always, of course, argued that discussion circles are a necessary moment in the development of class consciousness, but a political organisation is more than a discussion circle, and the distinguishing feature is as much its right and indeed duty to develop its own internal life as its capacity to intervene with a unified position towards the outside. 

 

Yes, I think the stepping back has been a problem; I think that it's the wrong answer to the right question. I think the ICC is right to question its earlier orientation that class struggle was increasing (which I think was what lead to the 'activist/opportunist' malaise); the events of 2013 I think confirmed to me that the 'peak' of struggle had passed, and the wave (if one can call it that, 'ripple' maybe) of struggle from 2003-2011 was over. Or at least the bourgeoisie was in better control of the anger after 2011. I think it was right that the ICC began to look at its analysis, which by 2013 I thought was over-optimistic. It is always right that any organisation that considers itself to be serious should examine its own functioning, how well its analysis matches reality. And if an organisation decides it does have an over-optimistic take on the situation, then it should take steps to counter that.

 

But; if an organisation seeks to strengthen itself - in order to effectively make interventions in the class - by withdrawing from intervention in the class, then I cannot for the life of me understand how that organisation thinks it's going to emerge stronger and more fitted to the task. There is an old Taoist bit of gnomic wisdom which is something like 'you don't learn about health by studying disease'. It's the working class that is going to save the ICC, not introspection. I don't think you'll crack the secret of how to get the organisation to work well, if you only have a model of an organisation that keeps working badly. That doesn't mean that the ICC shoudn't discuss and try to understand its crises. But it could be more open about them. It needs to discuss them, I think, with the class, not in secret. Withdrawing from discussion (and that includes cutting down on the press and attendance at other groups' meetings and your own forums) doesn't make you more fitted to discuss.

 

The webforum, I think, is on the whole very good. Streets ahead of anyone else's in terms of visitors, posts and content. But even the webforum has suffered in the last few years with various language forums being closed. So it isn't all peachy.

 

As for the differences between a discussion circle and an organisation, well, we've only been trying to keep the MDF active for 15 years and the ICC is 40, so you've got a lot of years on us there. But the difference is not that the MDF is not serious about discussing its own functioning while the ICC is, it's that the MDF isn't an organisation that needs to communicate outwards particularly. We've been very involved in discussing our functioning and lack of it and we've also gone through internal crises in the last 15 years. But what we haven't done is claimed to be a political organisation so we've felt no great need to (for example) publish very much - often (in 2003 and 2006, if I recall correctly) the crises we did go through were directly connected to attempts to publish things. The ICC's political positions include the commitment to be 'an active factor in the generalisation of class consciousness'. If it gives up on that (by postponing it to a 'jam tomorrow' while you try to understand what went wrong) then I really can't see what the difference is between it and a discussion circle.

 

 

Fred
the pains of life

Hi Jamal. I am so sorry to hear about your health situation. You are young to be so attacked. I hope there is some way you can resist the disease and fight it back. It isn't worth much perhaps  but I do offer all my sympathy and affection to you. Love from Fred. 

Pierre
We need a communist party not

We need a communist party not a pity party.

Fred
You're right Jamal. But

You're right Jamal. But perhaps a communist party will also be capable of pity - your word -  or at least sympathy for those people not having an easy time health wise. 

slothjabber
Clarification of muddied waters

As I accuse the ICC of muddying waters, I should also point out where I have muddied them.

 

In posts 196 and 219 I refer to a discussion last year, when I (and Link) had a discussion with an as-yet not named 3rd party, who was also an ICC sympathiser, but must currently reside under the umbrella term of a 'Shadowy and Aethereal Other', without any implication that any political positions ascribed to anyone else also described as a 'Shadowy and Aethereal Other' necessarily also apply to this individual.

 

I am not entirely certain of where communication broke down, but the 'Shadowy and Aethereal Other' that I'm referring to has contacted me to say that it that I have misinterpreted what that individual said - the idea that the ICC had decided that Link and I had moved away from the ICC and towards the ICT was not the position of the organisation at the time, according to this individual.

 

I'm sorry that's a bit mysterious, but I'm trying to be careful not to inadvertantly 'out' anyone, while also put the record as straight as I can.

baboon
I think that the first

I think that the first reaction demanded when a proletarian expression is attacked by elements intent on its destruction is unequivocal solidarity but it would be strange indeed if there were no criticisms or suggestions to be made regarding the ICC's functioning.

 

A couple of years ago, at a public meeting, a member of the ICC said that there had been serious divisions within the group over the question of China. Whether these were on the question of the economy or relating to decadence, I don't know. I was reminded of this by a post from Alf recently on libcom, where he talked about this discussion not getting out. This is a real weakness and I think that it's been a continual weakness in the ICC that differences of opinion, especially on something as important as this, are kept "in-house". I think that after initial positive expressions, the history of the ICC on the question of bringing differences to the outside has not been good and the economic differences expressed in an issue of the International Review was, in opinion, problemmatic. I realise the work involved but it should be relatively easy to bring a discussion (not all) to the "outside" involving different opinions. This could contribute to the health of the organisation.

 

I think that some integrations into the ICC have been bad. Whatever the motives of individuals, it is a weakness of the organisation to integrate people that don't agree with fundamental positions. Further, the wholesale quitting of the Turkish section, not even leaving a rump of one or two to defend the ICC's postion, shows another weakness in integration here.

MH
Second that baboon

I have to agree with you on the issue of discussions 'not getting out'. In the discussion about decadence on libcom (which on the whole is quite a stimulating and civilised debate), it’s frustrating and disarming for sympathisers of the communist left not to know what the ICC’s current understanding of decadence is now, in the light of the development of China, the (un-concluded) discussion on the post-war boom, the significance of the 2007 financial crisis….  

 

jk1921
Develop?

baboon wrote:

I think that some integrations into the ICC have been bad. Whatever the motives of individuals, it is a weakness of the organisation to integrate people that don't agree with fundamental positions. Further, the wholesale quitting of the Turkish section, not even leaving a rump of one or two to defend the ICC's postion, shows another weakness in integration here.

Could you develop that last part a bit Baboon? Is it because the Turkish section never accepted the theses on parasitism or is it something else? The rub here seems to be agreeing on what positions are fundamental and on which ones a reasonable degree of difference is healthy.

I wonder if the Turkish section came to see the issue of parasitism as something like a "fundamental position" in the sense that they ultimately decided they could not co-exist in an organization that defended the idea. But I agree that is somewhat odd that the entire section would come to such a conclusion more or less simultaneously. This didn't appear to be a feature of previous splits/crisis, which seemed to occur within sections.

Pierre
*former Turkish

*former Turkish section

baboon, you realize the ICC's "detractors" have been pointing this out for a long time? and it's not limited to the discussions you mention. what doesn't the ICC keep in house?

baboon
On an integration of someoone

On an integration of someoone who disagrees with your position, I was thinking specifically about Devrim. I met Devrim and found him a nice chap, his personal experience with the unions gave him a relatively clear perspective on the role of the unions and the needs of the class struggle, and he also defended clearly internationalist positions. But Devrim was an individualist and something of a contestationist. He not only disagreed with the ICC on the question of parasitism but, it seemed to me, from what I read publicly, on other issues as well. I assume that the ICC saw his integration as a challenge, some sort of opening, but it was a mistake that only harboured trouble ahead and now Devrim wants the ICC dead. Well, all things must past but it is important to learn from mistakes particularly in the short time we have on earth. One can question Devrim's motives for joining an organisation whose political positions he disagreed with but the responsibility here lies with the organisation. I think it's paradoxican that the ICC could integrate an element like Devrim (i.e., taking a chance) and keep a disagreement on China under wraps.

I've no doubt that the ICC took a great deal of time, resources and energy to integrate the comrades in Turkey into the organisation. I've no doubt that it was mindful of its previous experiences. But as the quitting of the whole section under circumstances of a barely coherent political difference shows, there were clearly fundamental problems involved in this process.

shug
The word 'contestationist'

The word 'contestationist' doesn't appear in the OED. Perhaps you could explain what you mean.

baboon
Someone who would have to

Someone who would have to have a different opinion and ill-suited to the necessary discipline of a revolutionary organisation.

Link
Strewth Baboon I think that

Strewth Baboon I think that you could apply that to all left communists given the miniscule number of them let alone ICC members and ex-members 

Pierre
Re:

baboon wrote:

ill-suited to the necessary discipline of a revolutionary organisation.

...perhaps you mean your conception of the revolutionary organization?

Pierre
derp

derp

Pierre
Hi guys, this is Jamal coming

Hi guys, this is Jamal coming to you live! once again from the inside of the ICC. It's been a slow and uneventful few weeks here, there's been some discussion of rambunctious youth but besides that not much. This image more or less sums up the current situation inside the organization quite well:
 

baboon
Link, even many anarchist

Link, even many anarchist groups have statutes, rules of conduct, internal life and internal discussion. The organisations of the workers' movement have long since seen the need for some sort of discipline, depending on the circumstances, in order to maintain or further organisational cohesion and functioning.  Why not the ICC?

Link
I quite agree Baboon.  My

I quite agree Baboon.  My response was actually to comments that appeared rather a pointless/gratuitious pop at someone

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