Mouvement Communiste

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Mouvement Communiste
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I noticed in your review of 'When Insurrections Die' you state in a footnote that Dauve's journal 'Le Mouvement Communiste' is not be confused with the modern group calling itself Mouvement Communiste and call the latter a 'parasitic group'. The 'Theses on Parasitism' also states:

Theses on Parasitism wrote:
In this sense, “Mouvement Communiste”, which clearly says that the left communist milieu has to be destroyed, is both a caricature of parasitism and a mouthpiece for its real underlying aims.

The footnote claims that MC formed out of elements which split from the Groupe Communiste Internationaliste, which goes some way to explaining the hostility. However, I am curious if you could elaborate more your problems with MC as it exists currently. I have read through some of their texts and they don't seem all that bad. Granted I have only read what has been translated into English. I would also be interested what evidence there is to support the allegation that MC called for the destruction of the Left Communist milieu.

Mouvement Communiste

As you note, the group originally came out of the Groupe Communiste Internationaliste and seemed initially to take on the GCI's extremely violent rhetoric against groups of the communist left. Soon after they began, they certainly did write a text calling for the destruction of the proletarian milieu, and I will find the reference when I have some more time. However they have changed quite a bit since then. They have moved more towards adopting 'autonomist' or 'workerist' ideas as well as some coming from left communism, and don't spend much or any time denigrating other political groups. I personally don't think the description parasitic applies to them now, although other comrades in the ICC may disagree.  We have been to some of their meetings and have discussed with their members. We have also co-operated with a Czech group which is close to them. However, given their 'workerist' framework, focusing their attention almost entirely on workers' struggles, I would be surprised if MC considered that debate between proletarian political groups is a very important part of their activity. 

Red Hughs
I am in irregular contact

I am in irregular contact with some mouvement communiste folks and they have more regular contact with other people my area (the San Francisco Bay Area). They're quite charming people.

If anything, they are the opposite of sectarian, not putting their positions forward on general questions but rather focusing on the details of struggles and ways to help the working class "mature" or become organized. This is approach appeals to quite a number of workers but  I still disagree with it.

So I'd tend to agree with ALF.


MC and 'workerism'

I also get the impression that a good deal of their output is on particular struggles, but I don't think they ignore 'general' questions as you say they do. For example, they produced a critical review of Bukharin and Preobrazhensky's ABC of Communism and a general text on the nature of the trade unions. Then there's the presentation on their sites homepage which lays the crisis of communist theory existing at present directly on the shoulders of "class collaboration; nationalism; parliamentarism; pacifism; [and] trade unionism".and talks about "maintaining the study and application of Marxist concepts to the analysis of reality in the years which have followed".

I assuming that the Czech group Alf talks about is the 'Kolektivne proti Kapitalu'? It also seems they have links to the Wildcat group in Germany.

Red Hughes says:"I am in

Red Hughes says:"I am in irregular contact with some mouvement communiste folks and they have more regular contact with other people my area (the San Francisco Bay Area). They're quite charming people. If anything, they are the opposite of sectarian, not putting their positions forward on general questions but rather focusing on the details of struggles and ways to help the working class "mature" or become organized. This is approach appeals to quite a number of workers but  I still disagree with it."

Why do you disagree with it? What's wrong with helping the working class realize what has to be done, and organize to do it?Somebody has to do this. I would think it should be one of the major tasks of left communists. That they don't spend vast amounts of time in denigration is an advantage too. It leaves time for them to help the class mature - much needed now when understandings of communism as the only alternative to capitalism are at a low ebb. And thank god Alf no linger feels they are parasites! Perhaps Red Hughes should explain to them what he sees as the limitations of their activity.

Red Hughs
OK, I think

OK, I think I misspoke/mis-wrote before.

It is a little difficult for me to express exactly how I feel perhaps "unsatisfied" with their approach.

For example, their text on unions (linked to above) does an excellent job of laying out the particular functions of unions on the workplace-level and how that's changed in the last 100+ years. What I feel a lack of is a sketch of the entire sweep of history that accompanied the changes they describe in union apparatuses. That might seem like quibbling. It might well be but I'll follow my logic anyway. IE, it seems like an understanding of the whole of the 100 years' state-capitalist-concentration, revolution and counter-revolution is important in general for the proletariat and actually makes the description of the position of unions more comprehensible (naturally that's a big topic, varying per country. The role of the CPUSA in the US is just one small piece of the puzzle but still would serve as a fabulous illustration of the transformation of unions and the left).

Let me quote a passage from their passage that might tie things together: "What we are after is the end of wage labour, while today the best one can obtain is less work for more money. The passage from defensive struggle to the beginning of a revolutionary process depends in no way on the satisfaction of a particular demand, but, as Karl Marx would say, on “the everexpanding union of the workers”. The satisfaction of workers’ demands is always ephemeral, because the concessions made by capital can at any instant be taken back again, exclusively according to its imperatives of valorisation. If the defensive everyday struggles remain the school of communism, on a historical scale, they have to go beyond the narrow horizon of category, of enterprise, of nation, of prices and value."

I agree with most of this and in the part I'll say I'd disagree, I'll admit that I might be accused of reading things in that aren't necessarily there. Still, here goes... It seem like this sketch is essentially describing a slowly growing and self-educating defensive workers movement. And given this perspective, it seems to justify MC having "laser-like-focus" on the situation of the workplace and avoiding "sweeping trajectories" because they distract and confuse an everexpanding (workplace-based) organization of the workers.  (And my impression is they operate just that way)

And certainly, when such a defensive organization can have an impact, it is a fine thing. When I can, I do join the small and desperate defensive movements that come into existence in my area. However, I think history has shown that overall proletarian movements don't slowly grow till they are sufficient to take power. They grow slowly at one point maybe, then explode, then fall-back, etc, etc (insert the standard 18th Brumaire quote). Given this chaotic process, it seems incumbent on militants to describe the "big picture", the world balance of power, the "historical sweep" of events on a world scale, etc, - a "framing approach" which I think the ICC certainly attempts (whether I agree exactly with their framing or not).

Another quote: The necessity for a profound critique of trade unionism must not however end up in an obsessional repetition of endless exhortations to revolution or, even worse, by the denial of any particular demand. A related detail: the unions leaflet in no way uses the concept of "the left" in discussing unions. Some might see this "minimalism" as focused and elegant - I tend believe there's "reactive reasoning" driving this. To mix a common metaphor, many revolutionaries only see the "forest" of capitalist while missing the "trees" of particular workplace struggle. MC sees to being going to something of the opposite extreme in not wanting to talk about the forest but only describe the trees.

The question of "The Left" isn't just whether a counter-revolutionary left exists or not but also whether revolutionaries should focusing the proletariat's attention on this left or whether we should focusing on more specific struggles and questions within the workplace. And this question, itself, should be openly discussed.

Again, I freely admit I'm trying to extrapolate MC's overall method from particular quotes and approaches. Implying a position through someone's ommissions is a tricky business. I could well be stumbling in doing so and folks are welcome to correct me. I don't think I'm ascribing a position to them that's despicable even if it is one disagree with.

But still, this my impression of MC's approach and how I disagree with that. And I would certainly hope this is seen as "comradely debate", not attacks.





Perhaps I should say sorry

Perhaps I should say sorry Red Hughes for being quick to snap at you. Following your explanatory post above I have looked at a couple of articles by Mouvement Communiste on libcom. (Should have done this before!) what strikes me is their slightly odd English. It is of course translated from French, but comes across as very 'moderniste', and a bit old fashioned like reading stuff by the Situationists. For example. Their article "Anti-globalization - the socialism of the imbeciles" starts with a quote by Marx and Engels which says "Communists despise hiding their ideas and aims" yet it can be seen that this is precisely what Mouvement Communiste do a lot. Perhaps this comes from their desire to be seen as modern, rather than chained to traditional Marxist terminology. In another article: "Against crusade and jihad for class struggle" there's little about class struggle. And the article ends ambiguously as follows: " Only the fight for the unity of proletarians, whatever their origins, can stop anti-proletarian terror, whether it is disguised as a crusade or as a jihad. Political Islam and Democracy are two banners which aim to recruit workers. We must reject them both without hesitation."

But the question arises as to whether stopping anti-proletarian terror (commendable) is the same as wanting a proletarian revolution! This is not touched upon however. What do we make of this odd omission? As Red Hughes points out MC's inclination appears to be to talk about the trees but never notice the forest. I wonder why?

To continue thinking about

To continue thinking about Communist Movement and why they are so keen on the proletariat and it's protection, but don't discuss it's emancipation: could it be they are not actually interested in it's emancipation only in it's preservation as the producer of surplus value? An outrageous suggestion perhaps? In their republished article on libcom about the Twin Towers attack, they present this as a deliberate attack on the working class - including workers who aren't white collared! - which of course it wasn't. Though many workers were killed. They are angry at Islam for supposedly targeting workers, and raise a wider question as follows. "What is there in common between the young unemployed in Gaza or Algiers and the billionaires from the Gulf or ruling classes from the area’s states, except religious belonging? Obviously nothing. Islam is used here only to create a fake community between “muslim” oppressors and oppressed which the area’s proletariat never cease to pay for."

I doubt many people would expect to find much in common between the unemployed and billionaires! There is however a lot in common between the unemployed in both Gaza and Algiers, and elsewhere internationally, and what they have in common ie exploitation by capitalism, transcends national boundaries and religion. But none of this is mentioned by MC., who said elsewhere, quoting Marx, that "communists despise hiding their ideas and aims." Mouvement Communiste seem to have no difficulty in hiding their Marxism however, which appears confined to quotations alone, and is not related to proletarian struggle as it actually happens. They do mention the "fake community between 'muslim' oppressors and oppressed"- there's nothing fake about oppression whether Muslim or otherwise - and draw the wacky conclusion that the proletariat never cease paying for this. The proletariat in it's oppressed condition pays for everything of course.

All of this leaves me feeling suspicious of MC's intentions in expressing love of the proletariat but failing to call for it's emancipation. If I'm wrong about this, then I can only say that I despise hiding my ideas and feelings, and that anything that sounds to me like it may be trying to derail proletarian clarity, needs confronting.