In support of the ICC's struggle against parasitism and opportunism

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Visitors to our internet site will be aware that in the recent period the ICC has had to confront a slanderous and shameful campaign mounted by the so-called Internal Fraction of the ICC (IFICC) and the Argentine Círculo de Comunistas Internacionalistas. In fighting these attacks the ICC has drawn on the unique source of clarity and strength for any revolutionary organisation; it has placed itself squarely on the ground of the principles, history and traditions of the workers’ movement.

We can only deplore the fact that the IBRP, which is also a part of the Communist Left, has not done so but has chosen to throw in its lot with the ICC’s detractors and has embraced their sordid and cynical methods. This is a serious betrayal of all that it means to be a part of the proletarian political milieu. Moreover this is in a situation in which the other historic groups of the Communist Left stand by, indifferent to the threat from elements whose sole aim is the destruction of proletarian organisations and, with them, the hope of a classless society.

But although the other historic groups of the proletarian political milieu reveal their inability to defend the revolutionary organisation, there are nevertheless elements who are in contact with the ICC and with the Communist Left generally, who see the importance of this battle and want to take up arms themselves to defend the principles and the future of the revolutionary proletariat. They have written to the ICC to express their solidarity and support and/or they have sent us copies of the letters that they have written to the IBRP to protest at its anti-proletarian behaviour and to try and call it back from the brink.

These letters are grappling with questions that are vital for the unity of the working class and its politicised elements, for this reason we are publishing extracts from them to encourage reflection on the part of other visitors to our internet site. We make little comment on the content because the letters essentially speak for themselves.

The need to defend the proletarian political milieu

The starting point of these letters is a reflection on events that comes out of the experience of the writers, as elements in search of a framework that enables them to understand the world in which we are forced to live and to engage in a process to change it. They have found the reference point that they need in the Communist Left and they feel very keenly that the campaign mounted by the IFICC and the Argentine Circulo against the ICC is also aimed against them and against the whole working class. They are shocked and indignant at these attacks.

Within the limits of our possibilities, we will not tolerate accusations of Stalinism against the ICC or against any proletarian group that has fought for decades against the most bloody counter-revolution in the history of Humanity.

We do not accept that such a slander is made gratuitously with no apparent proof, and even less when it comes from a shadowy group with a very dubious trajectory such as the IFICC.” (letter signed “a group of workers in the Basque country”).

Many of them want to bring their own experience to bear in defending the ICC from the false accusations made against it and defend our method in debate, as well as in dealing with organisational questions.

The public meetings which we have visited, discussions sometimes held with you, concerning so many important questions of the international workers movement, have always been held in an atmosphere of openness and mutual respect. In particular, political divergences have always been discussed with a self-critical attitude of solidarity. New participants, who have hesitated to speak up, or those who have put forward controversial positions concerning given questions, have always been encouraged to fully participate in the discussions.

All of this reveals the accusations being raised against you at the website of the IBRP (International Bureau for the Revolutionary Party) through the Argentine … “Circle of International Communists, that you work and act in a “Stalinist” manner, to be pure denigration with the aim of discrediting a revolutionary organisation working in many countries of the world.

We have esteem for your open manner and welcome your steps to throw light in public on the orchestration of a campaign directed against you, and in the last instance against us too.” (statement adopted by participants at an ICC public meeting in Germany on the initiative of a sympathiser).

I believe (the ICC) to be an honest organisation, that has made an inestimable contribution to clarification within the proletarian political milieu, of which it considers itself – and can be considered - to be a part.

It is a group that has always stimulated debate in a fraternal way, it has been respectful when disagreements have arisen and, a thing unknown previously, it has supplied publications of other organisations of the proletarian political milieu for reading.” (letter from AN, Spain).

The ICC have attempted to classify a whole set of political behaviours under the definition of ‘political parasitism’. As one who has demonstrated many of these aberrant behaviours, I can testify that the ICC’s 'Theses on Parasitism' have been an irreplaceable political tool in understanding the roots and consequences of that behaviour. I can also testify that despite attacking the ICC (although to a far lesser extent than other parasites!) it has never shown the slightest hint of ‘Stalinism’ towards me. Instead, while not abdicating its right to defend itself, it did its level best to help me identify what I was doing and work towards overcoming it even if there is still a long way to go. This is not the behaviour of an organisation that ‘cannot tolerate disagreement’ or that is ‘paranoid’ or ‘delusional’.” (JB, Britain)

The CCI has never withdrawn or censured the texts that have come into my hands. It must also be noted that, however painful it may have been, this organisation has had the courage to publicly bring to light the crisis. This means that it can be aired openly in discussion, so avoiding any temptation to resolve it behind closed doors with tricky machinations, a method that is alien to the proletariat.” (RQ, Spain)

“ When they have had internal problems they have brought them out into the open, brought them to the knowledge of all. It seems to us that this attitude does them honour as an authentic communist organisation. And if today there have been serious steps forward politically and theoretically, we owe it to these revolutionary militants who have resisted against all odds the attempts to denature the communist program from within as well as from the outside.

They have also tried to carry the debate into the international arena when there have been extremely serious conflicts, like the wars that assail the planet. But we all know (or at least those of us who have followed the situation) what has been the response of the other groups in the face of such criminal events. The ICC called for united action against imperialist war, the reply has always been one of complete scorn on the part of those who also call themselves internationalists and are certain that they are the only party.” (Basque workers)

Two of the letters draw attention to the fact that the insidious manoeuvres of the Argentine “Círculo de Comunistas Internacionalista” and the IFICC have taken the NCI into its line of fire in a specific way. Behind their concern for the comrades of the NCI lies the realisation that this is a group - albeit on another continent - that is making the same painstaking effort at clarification as they, their preoccupation is a living expression of the international, unified character of the proletariat and its struggle.

"The ICC has been attacked and not only the ICC. All of us who claim the Communist Left as a political reference point have been attacked with manoeuvres that are by no means new but which are the criminal methods that the bourgeoisie uses to destroy new militants or proletarian groups. And we are sure of this because there is evidence that the IFICC has used the same means that it used to try and destroy the ICC from the inside; manoeuvres, intrigue etc., to attempt to destroy the comrades in Argentina. That is, they have tried to generate all kinds of doubts and suspicions to create discord between these comrades and the ICC." (Basque workers)

I express my solidarity with the comrades of the NCI in Argentina who, in spite of what has happened, have taken a position on the crisis by means of several written statements, that are completely valid, the 27/10/04 declaration and one of 7/11/04.” (RQ, Spain)

Principled action at the heart of the defence of the proletarian political milieu

The life within communist organisations has to reflect what the future communist society will be like” (letter of AN, Spain).

The sympathisers are grappling with an issue that is of immense importance for the whole proletariat; principled action and correctness are a condition for ensuring the trust, solidarity and proletarian dignity of the working class. That is, these aspects are part of the nature of a class that has every interest in destroying the divisions imposed on it and no reason whatever to do down class brothers in order to advance personal or sectoral interests. On the contrary, it can achieve its final goal only by realising its international class unity. Moreover its political organisations can do no other than express the nature of the class that generates them.

In his letter, JB (Britain) takes up this issue within the context of the difficulties in forging a revolutionary organisation:

The construction of the communist organisation is a project fraught with difficulty and contradiction - it can only exist as an alien body within bourgeois society and is consequently under permanent attack at every level of its existence.

To combat this continual onslaught from the ‘antibodies’ of the bourgeois order, revolutionaries must adopt the most rigorous collective understanding of how a communist organisation should function. This is why all organisations adopt rules of functioning and a precise organisational methodology to deal with the inevitable debates and disagreements that arise within organisations.

Without these structures and principles, revolutionary organisations do not exist. There is no shame in revolutionaries disagreeing with each other. Nor is there shame for militants, even groups of militants, to leave an organisation where they no longer accept its platform or positions:

But there is great shame in:

  • Hijacking the internal apparatus of an organisation to further personal goals;
  • Spreading lies and defamation about individual comrades in secret in an effort to destroy them;
  • Refusing to follow the most basic elements of communist solidarity required of militants (i.e paying dues);
  • Stealing both funds and materials from the organisation to advance the interests of a particular clique and not the organisation or workers movement as a whole;
  • Making a constant stream of the vilest defamations against another organisation the centrepiece of your political existence;
  • Stealing contact addresses and using them in the most irresponsible manner - comrades who give their personal details to a revolutionary organisation are placing a great deal of trust and solidarity in that organisation and the behaviour of the IFICC in this regard is a heinous betrayal of that trust;
  • Making public the dates of internal meetings of a proletarian organisation, thus putting that organisation at risk of intervention by bourgeois security forces;
  • Making an effort to turn the national sections of an organisation against each other through flattery and lies;
  • Putting the personal safety of militants at risk by attempting to identify their individual contributions to the revolutionary press.

The responsibility of the historic groups of the Communist Left

Just as the contacts are aware that the framework and principles of the workers' movement are the key to their own search for clarity and coherence, they are also aware of the responsibility that resides in those organisations who come from the Communist Left tradition. That is, the historic weight of those groups whose role is to safeguard and disseminate the historic programme and principles secreted by the working class. Their letters to the IBRP are highly critical of the latter's attitude in relation to the attack of the Circulo and the IFICC against the ICC.

"Over the last few months, a slander campaign has been mounted against the ICC by the IFICC and the Circulo. Unfortunately the attitude of the IBRP towards the ICC in this affair is absolutely scandalous. This attitude is incompatible with everything that the proletarian class represents.

To start with, the IBRP has put the 'declaration of the Circulo' on its Internet site without consulting the ICC.

In addition, the IBRP has deliberately lied about the theft of the address list of the ICC subscribers and it used these addresses for its own interests. How come the invitations of the IBRP were sent to ICC subscribers, who had given their addresses only to the ICC?

On the first point: we wonder how an organisation (the IBRP) whose basis is the tradition of the communist left and proletarian principles, who has known the ICC for years and considers the ICC to be a proletarian organisation, can immediately take the side of the Circulo without even contacting the ICC. From the point of view of communist principles, the IBRP should first have contacted the ICC to ask their point of view on the accusations (…).

On the second point, how can a communist organisation, which is based on principles such as confidence, honesty, solidarity, defend this theft and hide the truth from its own militants?

While the IBRP tries to shut up the ICC by saying that 'while so much is going on in the world, the ICC has nothing better to do than write 'position statements' on its disputes', it is fully engaged regrouping with the parasites. This is pure opportunism.

What the IBRP has done in relation to the two points mentioned above and in relation to the other slanders against the ICC, is solely in the interests of the bourgeoisie and against the interests of the international proletariat." (two sympathisers in Amsterdam)

We condemn in the sharpest possible terms that you have put your website at the disposal of such campaigns of filth, and that you have, without any commentary, examination or verification, allowed that the ICC be insulted by the Argentine circle “Circulo de Comunistas Internationalistas”) as a Stalinist organisation employing nauseating methods.

We consider it to be politically perfectly right and highly responsible that the ICC excludes members from the organisation and from meetings, who are guilty of stealing subscription address lists, and who, with the most revolting bourgeois methods, without any proofs, have accused a leading member of the organisation of being a 'cop'.” (Participants at an ICC meeting in Germany)

A comrade from France reminds the IBRP that unity within the proletarian camp and fraternal debate is indispensable for revolutionaries:

Scattered and weak as they are, the few revolutionary organisations who exist today must polemicise, discuss systematically historic questions, as well as current affairs, of course. And, it seems to me that the contributions (regular, argumented, lucid) of the ICC over the last 30 years are far from the 'methodological and political void' that you denounce. Of course, the debate for clarity must be lively, uncompromising but it must, I think, remain fraternal between organisations of the Communist Left. Because if, as you say, there is so much 'work to be done to try and understand what is happening in the world', there is also so much to be done in order to ACT together (and what strength that would bring), to distribute TOGETHER, organise COMMON meetings on essential questions, on what unites us: internationalism, the struggle against war. … Because 'the experience of the past shows that a fraternal bond must exist between the workers of different countries that encourages them to hold fast, shoulder to shoulder, (….) and that if this bond is scorned, the punishment will be the general failure of these dispersed attempts.' (Marx, Inaugural Address, p.467 Pléïade)”

A letter addressed to the IBRP by “two young sympathisers of the communist left” also takes up the need for fraternal relations between proletarian organisations. Moreover it points out that the IBRP's support for the Argentine Circulo and the IFICC against the ICC tarnishes its image as a communist organisation in the eyes of those who, like themselves, look to the tradition of the Communist Left for guidance:

“… we are open to all the revolutionary communist organisations and are very much in favour of discussion between these groups, discussion which is very important for our political clarification. This is a necessary and indispensable path for the development of consciousness and the unification of the proletarian camp on the basis of solid agreement. (…)

… we note that on your internet site, supported by the IFICC, you have published a text of the Círculo de Comunistas Internacionalistas of Argentina, which accuses the ICC of systematically refusing any discussion with groups who have opinions different from their own. We can assume that you agree with this accusation as you publish it. Such an accusation, made without appropriate argumentation and without any valid explanation, seems rather unreal to us in view of the ICC's efforts to further discussion and furnish clarification (…).

Your accusation is all the more false given that, to our knowledge, the ICC has often made reference to the proletarian political milieu (…) and has mentioned you as one of its component parts, asking you many times to intervene together with it against imperialist wars. Moreover, on your attitude, in particular at the public meeting in Berlin on 15/05/04 on the causes of imperialist war, (…) in the conclusion to the discussion, the spokesperson for the IBRP defended the position that the discussion showed that debate between the IBRP and the ICC is 'useless'. (…)

So we find that your attitude deviates appreciably from the image that we have of a revolutionary communist organisation, which must perforce disappoint us and we want to point this out to you in this letter.

Moreover, isn't solidarity between communist organisations the engine of the combat which unites us? Hoping that our criticisms will not be taken as animated by ill intentions towards the IBRP but on the contrary will help to encourage a better analysis of an important problem which certainly has not been the object of a profound reflection".

The group of workers from the Basque country also criticises the IBRP's refusal of the debate:

There is a sentence that they have written which shows up all the weakness of the BIPR, "We are fed up with discussing with the ICC”.

In the first place our predecessors were never tired of discussing, on the contrary, it was a duty to search for the greatest possible clarity. That taste for theory has been lost and we must rediscover it. But the IBRP does not want open debate between everyone, it only wants adhesion to its positions without any discussion or questioning. An attitude typical of leftism, you like it or you lump it. A great deal must be done and discussion undertaken to form the future working class party; it will not be the ICC and the IBRP alone who will be involved in this task but many proletarian groups that will arise, at least we hope so.

By avoiding the debate, the IBRP shows clearly its theoretical weakness, as it does when, in uncontrolled anger, it tells us 'we don't have to account to the ICC or anyone else for our political actions'. Here we find the 'divine right' of the LEADER, who has the right to do whatever he likes, because the leaders are above GOOD and BAD. In brief, the reference point for morality and ethics is to be found in the complete works of the JESUITS.”

The opportunism of the IBRP

Many of the letters sent to the IBRP condemn its opportunism as unworthy of a proletarian organisation. That is, they stigmatise a policy characterised by a desertion of principles in favour of using means that are alien to the proletariat in order to 'get ahead' in what it seems to conceive as a race to win the hearts and minds of the new generation. The contacts are also aware how very self-destructive is the Bureau's political promiscuity with the IFICC and the Circulo. These gentlemen aim not only at the destruction of the ICC through sordid manoeuvres, but also at the political annihilation of the IBRP, though in its case through blandishments and siren songs.

As GW from Britain tells the IBRP: “… the creation of the IBRP from the CWO and BC was strongly marked by an anti-ICCism as well as an opportunist leap. I now believe however that recent developments show a qualitative descent in the activity of the IBRP that threatens its very existence as a revolutionary force. It is now apparent what has been implicit for some time: the IBRP sees itself, not as comrades of, but in competition with the ICC. This shopkeeper, basically bourgeois attitude, can, if not dramatically reversed, only spell the doom of the IBRP as an expression of the proletariat.” (…) This is the very opposite of working class solidarity, of confidence in the working class and recent events confirm that you understand and share very little of these fundamental and essential attributes of a revolutionary class. (…) Linking up with and publicising any anti-ICC Tom, Dick or Harry shows a shameless and fundamental betrayal of the tenets of the workers' movement on your part. You blatantly excuse theft from revolutionary organisation because it's done in the name of "leadership rights". You could say it is done in the cut and thrust of business and doing down a rival. At least that would be more honest…"

The group of workers from the Basque country also tells the IBRP in no uncertain terms that their methods are against all that the working class stands for and are not to be tolerated:

"NO GENTLEMEN OF THE IBRP, for our class not everything is acceptable. Our proletarian morality is the antithesis of bourgeois morality; everyone must account for himself. That includes you and is even more applicable in your case as you came out in defence of the IFICC and its Mafia methods, or are you perhaps trying do get us to believe the letter and the horrendous things recounted in it?

You published the letter on the Internet to give it the widest possible audience, you owe something to those who have read it. We do not accept that you justify the theft of something as important as the address list and the money of a proletarian organisation. We are appalled at such vulgar arguments as that the perpetrators were the leaders or the old guard. What do you say they want to do? Redirect the ICC towards the right path? That does not mean that they have the right to thieve.

YES GENTLEMEN OF THE IBRP, you do have to give an account and not only to the ICC but also to all of us. What is your morality, what code of conduct and behaviour do you hold to? Are you part of the working class? On this question too there are class lines."

The contacts are appalled that an organisation of the Communist Left should excuse the theft on the part of the IFICC of the ICC's list of contact addresses. They are outraged that they go onto defend it on the grounds that the elements who went on to form the IFICC were supposedly 'leaders' of our organisation (see "Reply to the stupid accusations of an organisation in the process of degenerating", on the Internet site of the IBRP). The "two young sympathisers of the CL" ask the IBRP,do you really think that the 'leaders' of a communist organisation have more rights and power than the militants that compose it, specifically in this case the exclusive ownership of common documents?

A very pertinent question. We hope that the Bureau will deign to answer it because, contrary to their assertion that "we don't have to account to the ICC or anyone else for our political actions", those elements who look to the Left Communist movement for political leadership have every right, nay, a duty even, to demand that revolutionary organisations account for their actions. Equally, these organisations themselves have a responsibility to motivate their political choices before the entire working class that has generated them.

The "group of Basque workers" too has something to say on this point:

"The terms used by the IBRP, such as 'the old guard, the leaders', generates a profound DISGUST in us because it reflects a conception of the party that is typically bourgeois. It is not by chance that the 'leaders' unite to manipulate at will all the honest militants who approach the communist left. The best example of this is what has happened in Argentina and it is unforgivable that such an attitude is tolerated and not denounced to the four corners of the earth. Someone who tries to destroy a proletarian group deserves our scorn, not our respect.”

A comrade in Sweden refers to the IBRP's view that the theft of the address list was not theft on the basis that these "leaders" of the ICC wanted to guide ICC militants back to the right path:

"The logic to defend theft is worse than theft itself. IBRP put forward a religious or leftist position on the leading role of the party. Militant within the ICC are not religious idolizers which can be led to the right path and they are neither foot soldiers that can be guided by a commander. My opinion is that militants within the communist left (not only within the ICC) contrary to the left of capital are able, knowledgeable and analytical, in short real revolutionaries".

As another comrade writing from America asks, “At what point does opportunism cross over the class line? Adopting bourgeois tactics is a first step in the direction of adopting bourgeois ideology, no?” (IO).

Appeal made by the contacts to the IBRP

As GW says, "recent developments show a qualitative descent in the activity of the IBRP that threatens its very existence as a revolutionary force". Aware of the dangerous waters within which the IBRP is floundering, the concern of the sympathisers is to pull it back from the abyss that it seems determined to leap into at the kind invitation of the IFICC.

The two comrades in Amsterdam say, "We condemn this opportunist attitude of the IBRP towards the ICC. We hope that in the interest of the class struggle and proletarian unity, the IBRP will make a self-criticism of its attitude in this affair."

The statement of the participants of the ICC meeting in Germany reads:

"We call on you to return to the terrain of the proletarian form and principles of confrontation, meaning:

  • the immediate publication, in your press and your website, of our letter and of the communiqué of the ICC on these developments,
  • the establishment, with your participation, of an independent commission of the camp of the Communist Left, to examine and clarify the accusations against the ICC.
  • the rupture of any collaboration with the former ICC elements, who have grouped themselves in and around the IFICC (the so-called "internal fraction of the ICC").
  • denouncing and publically combating the methods of theft of money and contact addresses, and the hate campaigns against the ICC.

You should at long last assume the collective responsibility you have towards the international proletariat. Sit down at the table with the ICC and other revolutionaries and debate publically the central questions of the workers movement, of capitalism and its overthrow."

JB, Britain declares:

"The question of parasitism is one that involves the entire communist left. I support the ICC's call for other proletarian organisations and their contacts and sympathisers to take position on the ICC's theses on the subject to:

  • explain whether or not they believe the behavioural patterns of 'parasitism' identified by the ICC exist or not and to show why they believe this;
  • provide alternative explanations for this behaviour if they disagree with the ICC's explanation for its existence.

In short, to develop the discussion in the widest and most rigorous possible way, as is incumbent on the workers' movement as a whole."

RQ, Spain underlines the general responsibility of the political elements of the proletarian camp:

"The proletarian political milieu must carry out its responsibilities. The evolution of the situation: the IBRP going into crisis by insisting that it maintains, and will continue to maintain, its collaboration with the FICCI; the last minute intervention of the murky Círculo de Comunistas Internacionalistas in Argentina and the silence of the other organisations, that should have taken position against the behaviour of the elements of the IFICC, because no proletarian organisation alive is safe from them. This makes me think that a sort of plot against a revolutionary organisation such as the ICC has been organised, with some who participate actively and others by default.

The importance of solidarity

IO from America asks us: “I do have to wonder why you pay so much attention to the IFICC (…)I guess talking about them is useful perhaps as a lesson of parasitism in action, otherwise shouldn't they be ignored for the most part?”. If we have spent so much time and effort in our public struggle against the unholy alliance of parasitism and opportunism represented by the IFICC and the IBRP, this is because – however small the numbers involved – we are fighting to defend the very principles of proletarian action and organisation whereon the world wide party of the working class must one day be based. We are firmly convinced that if we do not defend these principles now, then we would both be failing in our duty, and compromising the future development of all revolutionary organisation.

The passion and conviction with which our contacts have entered into the fray in defence of proletarian principles is enough to warm the cockles of any revolutionary's heart. It shows that the ICC's insistence that principled behaviour is a political necessity isn't a voice lost in the wilderness of expediency, cynicism, and opportunism. This simple act of solidarity is all the more important as the ICC has recently received threats, for example, from the UHP-Arde[1], as well as others sent anonymously.

Aware of the gravity of recent events, RQ (Spain) initially saw them as a backward step for the working class. After further reflection however, he/she says: "I don't think that the ICC and the proletariat are confronting a reflux but that, on the contrary, this is a forward step at the level of method because of what has had to be confronted. As was the case in the First International in the fight against the Bakuninists, the Marxist method, and therefore that of revolutionary organisations, lies in bringing out into the open before the militants and the whole proletariat, the problem or the crisis in all of its difficulty. It means discussing it through and going to the root without holding back.

This, like the other letters, shows the unconquerable determination to understand and advance, however hard the battle may prove, that is the hallmark of the proletariat as a revolutionary class. The sympathisers recognise that the fight for communism is so much deeper and all-embracing than the search for a list of correct positions. The Marxist method means a questioning of every aspect of this rotten society and only it can breathe life into the reflections, the questionings, and the hunt for the unclouded truth. This is the gauntlet that the writers of these letters have taken up.

We leave the last word with the participants at the ICC Public Forum in Germany, a sentiment that encapsulates the priceless solidarity that our sympathisers have proffered:

"Don't give up, we support your struggle!"

[1] In an internet article entitled "la ciencia y arte del zoquete" the UHP accuse the ICC of defending the policies of the bourgeoisie, call us imbeciles and then conclude with the words "Against the bourgeois campaigns to falsify and repress our struggle and death to the imbeciles".

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