Tribute to our comrade Jean-Pierre

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With the death of Jean-Pierre, the ICC has lost a seasoned comrade, a great fighter, and a remarkable character.

Jean-Pierre left us during the night of 13 September, following a long and incurable illness whose fatal outcome was recognised by everyone, including himself. For more than two years our comrade, who had greatly enjoyed playing sport, little by little lost the use of his limbs, his breathing and finally his speech. During this process, Jean-Pierre was always perfectly conscious of every moment in the evolution of his illness and its consequences. This lucidity obviously affected him profoundly because he knew he would have to give up so much of what he loved: physical activity, a direct contact with nature, in particular the mountains where he used to go on long rambles (he lived in the Alps), cooking....But he didn’t accept this fatalistically. He wanted to stay at home for as long as possible and no one could make him change his mind about this. He firmly insisted on staying in this familiar, human space to maintain the closest possible links with his family, friends and comrades. This space was his access to the world, the place where he had his books, the place where he could talk about politics and current events until the last moment, the place where he could watch a film and talk about it, the place where he could read the poetry he liked. His strongest wish was to put limits on the medical procedures aimed at keeping him alive. He struggled to the end for these wishes to be respected. A few weeks before his death Jean-Pierre agreed to go to hospital for palliative care. He knew that he wouldn’t be coming back home. Our comrade didn’t submit to this, he chose it and assumed it. But always his concern was to give the maximum space to those close to him, to his children and his comrades, and to continue the political struggle. The hospital staff and the militants who shared his last moments testified that our comrade departed “with great serenity” despite the considerable suffering which gripped him to the end. We, his comrades, know that developing this serenity was the last work in his life. He was one of those personalities who demand admiration because of their tenacity and the courage with which they face the end. We were all happy to be able to enter the personal and political space he so generously set aside for us. It gave us great pleasure and provided us with major lessons for our lives and our militancy. For all that, Jean-Pierre, we are infinitely grateful.

An exemplary fighter

Jean-Pierre joined the ICC relatively late in his life. After being mobilised for the war in Algeria, which he experienced as a moment of unacceptable and unspeakable barbarism, he never stopped working for the perspective of constructing another society where these kinds of horrors would be banished forever. Holding on to this notion, he went through May 68 with all his hopes and all his confusions, in particular his communitarian ideas. He didn’t discover the ICC until the 1990s. There he found the theoretical and practical coherence of marxism, which enabled him to make a real political break with the confused ideologies he had maintained up until then. This encounter rooted him firmly in the “passion for communism” (according to his own terms). His indignation towards a world full of barbarism had finally found the meaning he had been looking for, the combat for the world proletarian revolution.

After that our comrade situated the political struggle at the forefront of his life until his last moments. He was animated by a deep conviction and despite the fatal advance of his illness, every visit to him included a political discussion. As long as he could he participated in the regular meetings of the ICC and carried out his responsibilities as a militant. At the end, from his bed, he did it via the internet. He was especially insistent on paying his financial contributions so that he could still be part of the functioning of the organisation as much as his means allowed.

But above all, his concern to be rigorous was shown by his determination to defend organisational principles and their spirit by taking position on this difficult political question throughout the last few years. The comrade was convinced that the construction of an organisation of the proletariat is a difficult art which has to be learned and transmitted thanks to a theoretical effort. Convinced as he was of the necessity for revolution, he sought to fight against all the obstacles that stand in the way of our class carrying out its task of emancipating humanity. He was always aware of the titanic, planetary dimension of this battle. A daily defensive battle, of course, but above all one that required a conscious approach, with a cultural element which can strengthen us for the offensive needed to overthrow the capitalist system. He was also profoundly aware of the weight of the dominant ideology pressing on the organisation and on the individuals within it, and of the perverse effects of social decomposition on relations between human beings. He knew that the real way to resist this pressure is to be found in the collective strength of debate in the organisation, based on moral principles and an intellectual depth. This concern never left him: how to struggle effectively, how to live up to your responsibilities, both as an individual militant and as an organisation, as a collective and associated body. It is because he had these concerns that he was so consistent at the level of the functioning of the organisation, always fighting against what as early as 1903 Lenin called the ‘circle spirit’, the vision of the organisation as a sum of individuals who come together purely on the basis of affinity. Such a vision was for him clearly and diametrically opposed to the real needs of a revolutionary organisation which can serve as a bridge to a real proletarian party in the future. The work of building the organisation thus has to be carried out in the ‘party sprit’. He always took a position against the temptation to get together on an affinity basis. For him the organisation could not be reduced to a ‘band of mates’, a circle of friends, even if he maintained warm and fraternal relations with all his comrades and had strong ties of personal friendship with some of them. To use his expression, he contributed to this combat “with just a little thread of a voice” to his final breath.

His devotion, his tenacity, his commitment remains alive in all his comrades. He was an example for us of what a convinced militant can be.

A remarkable and engaging personality

Jean-Pierre’s personality was so engaging that you can’t pass over it in silence. He was always curious, his mind was always developing and he had a lot of empathy not only for those closest to him but for others he met on the way. His company always testified to these qualities. He knew that everybody evolves, that everybody is in constant movement and goes through crises which can be moments for going forward. He recognised this in himself and often gave the evidence for it. He was happy to talk about his long, complex and chaotic journey towards marxism and class positions. It was by no means a tranquil river and no doubt this is what sustained his interest in others, his respect for their contradictions, which he always saw in a positive light as a potential for advance. He always had this vision of the future which went beyond any easy criticisms.

Jean-Pierre was a great admirer of Rabelais. He loved the frankness that his work exudes, his sensual, crude and even brutal love for life. A good meal, generously shared, was something sacred for him, as a precious moment of conviviality. He often opened up his universe through reading out the texts and poems he admired. Those who knew him were privileged to share his great pleasure in this. The silences which sometimes followed also had an active content, the sense of mutual communication through listening. Jean-Pierre was an example of a fighter devoted to the organisation and the perspective of the revolution, and his temperament was that of a person animated by the love of freedom. He has left us his passion, his tastes, and in doing so has drawn us a sketch of what it is like to be a human being who sees the other as an integral part of his own happiness, who participates in the artistic and scientific dance of humanity.

The militants of the ICC share deeply the pain of his children, of his family, of his friends. We have lost our comrade Jean-Pierre, but his memory is ever-present for those who have had the good fortune to know him and work by his side.

The ICC salutes you, comrade, as an exemplary militant for the cause of communism, to which you gave the best of yourself.

ICC  15.10.2013