The Second International Conference of Groups of the Communist Left

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IR 16, 1st Quarter 1979

In the second fortnight of November, the second Conference of communist groups met in Paris, to continue the work of the first, which took place in Milan during May, 1977, at the initiative of the Internationalist Communist Party (Battaglia Comunista). It is not our intention in this article to give a detailed account of the debates at this Conference. These will be the subject of a special pamphlet, to appear shortly in English, French and Italian, in order to allow all revolutionary militants to follow the effort at clarification undertaken through the confrontation of the groups participating at the Conference. More modestly, we propose in this article to outline what in our eyes is the great significance of this Conference, especially in the present situation. At the same time we want to reply to the thoroughly negative attitude that certain groups have decided to adopt towards this Conference.

First of all, we should underline the fact that this Conference was better prepared and better organized than the first, both politically and organizationally. Thus the invitation to the Conference was made on the basis of precise, political criteria: it was addressed to all those groups who:

1. Adhere to and defend the fundamental principles which presided over the proletarian revolution of October 1917 and the constitution of the IIIrd International in 1919, and on the basis of these principles aim to constructively, in the light of experience, criticize the political positions and practices elaborated by the CI;

2. Reject without any reservations the existence in any country of socialist regimes or workers’ governments, even those described as degenerated; make no class distinction between the countries of the Russian bloc or China and the countries of the western bloc and denounce any call to defend these countries as counter-revolutionary;

3. Denounce the Socialist Parties, the Communist Parties and their acolytes as parties of capital;

4. Categorically reject the ideology of ‘anti-fascism’ which establishes a class frontier between fascism and democracy or which calls on the workers to defend or support democracy against fascism;

5. Proclaim the necessity for communists to work for the reconstruction of the party, the indispensable weapon for the victory of the proletarian revolution.

Any worker will understand simply by looking at these criteria that this is not just lumping together all ‘willing souls’, but concerns truly communist groups who distinguish themselves clearly from the flora and fauna of leftism: Maoists, Trotskyists, etc, as well as from modernists and other bleating ‘anti-party’ councilists.

These criteria are certainly not enough to establish a political platform for regroupment, but are perfectly sufficient for knowing whom to discuss with and in what framework, so that the discussion can be really fruitful and constitute a positive step forward.

Furthermore, as an improvement on the first Conference, the agenda for the debates was established long before the Conference itself, thus allowing each group to present its views in texts written in advance, making the debates at the Conference clearer. The agenda was as follows:

1. The evolution of the crisis and the perspectives it opens for the struggle of the working class.

2. The position of communists towards so-called ‘national liberation’ movements.

3. The tasks of revolutionaries in the present period.

This agenda makes it clear that the Conference had nothing in common with the learned gatherings of academic apes, of sociologists and economists gargling with ‘theory’ in the abstract. A militant concern presided over the conference, seeking to draw out a greater understanding of the present world situation, of the worldwide crisis of capitalism, and the perspectives it opens up from the standpoint of the proletariat, as well as the resulting tasks of revolutionary groups within the class.

It was with this framework and spirit that a dozen groups from various countries were invited. Most responded favourably to the initiative, even if some were unable to attend for various reasons at the last moment. This was the case with Arbetarmakt from Sweden, Organization Communiste Revolutionnaire Internationaliste d’Algerie from France and II Leninista from Italy. However, we should note that four groups totally refused to participate. These were Spartacusbond from Holland, Pour Une Intervention Communiste (PIC) from France and the two International Communist Parties (PCI Programma and PCI Il Partito Comunista) from Italy.

It is not without interest to examine more closely the arguments put forward by each of these groups and the real motives behind their refusal. For Spartacus group is against any idea of a party. The very word party makes their hair stand on end. This group, born at the end of World War II, in vain lays claim to the tradition and continuity of the Dutch Left. At most, it can lay claim to Otto Ruhle seasoned with Sneevliet – but certainly not to Gorter or Pannekoek, neither of whom ever denied the necessity for the communist party. Spartacusbond is the self-confessed, senile end of the Council Communist current, turned into a little sect, folded in on itself, extremely isolated and daily isolating itself even further from the international workers’ movement. Its refusal to attend the Conference simply demonstrates the definitive exhaustion of the pure councilist current, as it increasingly mingles and integrates itself with the leftist tide. It is the sad end of an irreversible evolution produced by a long period of counter-revolution.

The attitude of the PIC is somewhat different. After agreeing in principle, it went back on its decision on the eve of the first Conference in Milan, considering that in the present circumstances it would be “a dialogue of the deaf”. For the second Conference, its refusal, on principle, was based on a refusal to participate in ‘Bordigo-Leninist’ conferences. Here again, we are seeing a precise evolution. When, five or six years ago, several comrades left Revolution Internationale to form the PIC group, they based their separation on the reproach that RI didn’t intervene enough. Leaving aside the verbal activism of the PIC, which has led them to all sorts of ‘conferences’ and ‘campaigns’ (sic!) – the latest always more artificial than the one before – it has become obvious today (as we always insisted it would) that the real debate was not intervention or non-intervention but what kind of intervention, on what terrain, and with whom. Thus the PIC, which from time to time gives itself over to ‘conferences’ with all kinds of semi-anarchist groups and elements, or with phantom groups of ‘autonomists’, conferences which end each time in a fiasco, is thoroughly well placed to talk about a ‘dialogue of the deaf’ when it comes to discussions between real communist groups. And this is not all. Returning from its unhappy attempts to set up an anti-ICC current with Revolutionary Perspectives, Workers’ Voice and the Revolutionary Workers’ Group (USA) (the last two of which have since disappeared without trace), the PIC, somewhat cool now towards groups of the communist left, has fallen in with elements of the socialist left and has participated in the group which initiated the reopening of the old left socialist review Spartacus, under the direction of its founder Rene Lefeuvre. In this review – whose pages are stuffed with the glorification of the Republican army of the Spanish war of 1936-39; with the great deeds of ‘anti-fascism’, the active promoter of the second world butchery; with warm praises for Marceau Pivert, for the PSOP (the pre-war PSU) and for the POUM; with the adulation and tender memories of the heroic Trotskyist actions in the war-time Resistance – the PIC finds itself at ease and takes part in editing it. Its delicate nostrils, unable to bear the horrible odour of ‘Bordigo-Leninism’, dilate voluptuously at the perfumed incense of left socialism and anti-authoritarianism. In this farmyard of social democracy [1] they PICk about, entirely at their ease. They even allow themselves, from time to time, the pleasure of making ‘radical’ critiques and playing the role of ultra-revolutionary naughty children. It is true that the review Spartacus is very open, very broadminded. But being broadminded is not always a virtue! The unity that glues together the Spartacus team is a gut reaction against Bolshevism, which they deliberately and cunningly mix up with Stalinism. The ‘left’ socialists never waited for the appearance of Stalinism before denigrating the Bolsheviks, and combating the October revolution and communism in the name of ‘democratic socialism’. In the name of anti-Bolshevism, the left socialists have always been the wretched tail of Social Democracy, of the Scheidemanns and Noskes, the Turatis and the Blums. But it doesn’t worry the PIC to walk hand in hand with them. The PIC doesn’t use the arsenal of the Left Communist tradition to look for a serious critique of the positions of Lenin and the Bolsheviks; but instead they go PICking about in the dustbins of the Tsarist or Kerensky consulates, or in the dung heaps of left socialism. In its anti-Bolshevik frenzy, the PIC forgets that, whatever our differences with the Bolsheviks, they can’t change our judgement of social democracy – either right or left – for there is an impassable gulf separating communists from social democracy. It is a gulf based on allegiance to two world-class enemies, the communists belonging to the proletariat, the social democrats to the bourgeoisie.

Even if there were no other lessons, this one lesson we owe entirely to Lenin and the Bolsheviks. So it is not by accident, but because they have forgotten this lesson, that the PIC declines to stir from their feathered nest in the depths of the columns of Spartacus and refuses to discuss with ‘Bordigo-Leninists’. One might ask whether it is their visceral ‘anti-Leninism’ that makes the PIC cuddle up to the left socialists, or whether it’s rather their leaning towards left socialism and leftism that makes the PIC so ferociously ‘anti-Bolshevik? Or perhaps both at once? One thing remains sure: that the PIC finds itself located somewhere between Lenin and the left socialists, in other words, it is violently anti-Bolshevik (an example of its verbal radicalism) and it collaborates with the left socialists (an example of its opportunism in practice).

Not the least humorous part of the whole sorry tale is the article published in Jeune Taupe criticizing the group Combat Communiste. In this article the PIC ‘scolds’ Combat Communiste for their less than total break with the Trotskyists, and, on this particular occasion (doing something once is not a mortal sin) reminds them: “As Lenin said at Zimmerwald with regard to the Social Democrats (they are) outside the camp of the proletariat and so inside that of the bourgeoisie. It is impossible, if we are to have a minimum of consistency, to consider them as comrades, and still less to fight beside them[2](our emphasis). So the PIC is not completely amnesic even if it is a bit weak in the head. When it comes to admonishing Combat Communiste they remember quite well that: “for him (Lenin), the Social Democrats were enemies of the class and he called for a break with them. Thus the IIIrd International was to be constituted on the basis of opposition to any attempt to reconstitute the IInd[3]. Excellent memory! But you would think the PIC never looked at itself in the mirror. Unless, the break they consider indispensable with Trotskyism becomes less obvious when it comes to collaborating with the left socialists. We remain in agreement with the conclusion of the quoted article: “The years to come, which must see the resurgence of the proletariat on the stage of history, as the subject of its own future, will not tolerate the slightest theoretical confusion. What is today inconsistent and fanciful will tomorrow become mortally dangerous and counter-revolutionary. Now is the time to be definite and choose your camp[4]. Exactly! Absolutely correct! Should we draw the conclusion that the PIC, in refusing to come to the Conference for fear of contamination by the ‘Bordigo-Leninists’ while remaining calmly in the ranks of Spartacus, has already chosen its camp? The near future will tell us. [5]

As for the two Bordigist PCIs, they did not deign to make their refusal known directly, but contented themselves with publishing an article in each of their respective presses, the one more denigrating and mocking than the other. When one calls oneself ‘International Communist Party’, one stays aloof and one doesn’t lower oneself to reply to others who are merely groups. Hell with it! One has one’s dignity to consider, even if one is only a little group, divided and sub-divided into three or four International Communist Parties, who take no notice of each other!

Originating, after Bordiga’s death, from an obscure split with the Programma organization, the Florentine group, in the strict Bordigist tradition whereby there can only ever be one party existing anywhere in the universe at one time, simply proclaimed itself to be the ‘International Communist Party’. This mighty ‘International Communist Party’ of Florence is clearly in a good position to rundown what they call the “wretched party builders” [6]. How can we reassure these touchy types that no-one at the Conference was after what they consider as their exclusive property? Nobody at the Conference posed the problem of the immediate constitution of the Party, or even of a unified organization, for the simple reason that all the groups were perfectly aware of the immaturity of such a project. To think that the class party is decreed into existence simply by the will of a few militants and in no matter what conditions is to understand nothing of the problem. This voluntarist and idealist conception of the party, decreeing itself no matter when, independently of the conditions and development of the class struggle has nothing to do by the reality of the party as a living organism of the class, which appears and develops only when the conditions are present for it to effectively assume the tasks proper to it. The Bordigists’ juggling with terms like the ‘formal Party’ and the ‘historic Party’ serves only to cover their total ignorance of the difference between fractions or groups and the party, their non-comprehension of how the party is actually formed.

The conception of the nature and function of the party has raised many passionate debates in the marxist movement. It’s enough to recall the divergences between Lenin and Rosa Luxemburg, between the Bolshevik party and the German Left, between Bordiga and the Communist International, between the Italian Fraction from Bilan and the PCI as it was reconstituted at the end of World War II. It remains today a subject for discussion and precision within the left communist movement. Any group from some small provincial town is free to declare itself one fine day ‘the unique world party’ – there’s no law to prevent it. But to go from there to really being the party and believing in it, indicates a mild touch of megalomania. But for the Bordigist current, there can be no question of discussing their conception of the unique and monolithic Party, which takes power and exercises its dictatorship in the name of the proletariat, even against the will of the class. As Il Partito warns us: “Whoever opposes this conception or does not accept this programmatic and organizational discipline is placed outside the camp of the Left”. Useless to tell them that this conception is far from that of Marx and Engels, who didn’t amuse themselves by incessantly proclaiming themselves as ‘the Party’, or of Rosa Luxemburg, or even of Lenin, or of Bilan, or of the Italian Left in general; such a conception belongs lock, stock and barrel to Bordigism. And, let it be said without fear of excommunication, this is not our conception either.

It’s understandable that the Bordigists want to avoid any discussion and confrontation of positions with other communist groups. They don’t even discuss amongst themselves (organic centralism won’t allow it). For no sect dares to put into question the dogma of its invariant Bible. Their only argument is which one of their numerous parties will be the Party, universally recognized as such. These arguments bear a strange resemblance to those in a lunatic asylum, where each of the inmates considers himself the real, the One and Only Napoleon!

The Florentine Party, the last cast-off of the split before last, is not any the less ferocious. Offended that anyone should dare to invite them to the Conference, they hurl their warning like a thunderbolt: “these missionaries of unification, political groups of various traditions, are trying willy-nilly to constitute a political organization objectively against the Left and the Revolution”. Leaving aside the intended ‘missionary’ insult, we repeat once again that the Conference never posed the discussion on unification as an objective. No one is deafer than he who doesn’t want to hear. The hour has not yet struck for the unification in one party of the different communist groups existing today. But we think it’s high time that the communist groups came out of their hibernation, which has lasted only too long. During the last five decades, the counter-revolution has had the upper hand, not only over the class, but inevitably also over the international communist movement, which has severely reduced in size and influence. Few groups of the Communist Left have resisted this avalanche and survived. And those that have been able to survive have been deeply scarred by this whole process, which has developed in them a reflex of sectarian isolation, a defence mechanism of closing in on themselves.

Another reflex was to retreat forwards, putting a good face on a bad state of affairs, which was translated into the artificial construction of Parties. The Trotskyists were past masters of this game before World War II and the Bordigists have taken it up since then, carrying it even further and, as is their custom, pushing it to the absurd. In these conditions, the constitution of the Bordigist Party became a march in the opposite direction to reality, which could only run into defeat after defeat. The development of class struggle is a powerful factor in the process of homogenization in the class, and thus also in the organization of communists – the party; and it’s equally true that a period of reaction and counter-revolution is a factor in the process of the atomization of the class and the dispersion of the organization of the class. The Bordigist Party could not escape from this law – hence the process of incessant splits within its ranks.

We know that Bordiga was more cautious as to whether the immediate constitution of the Party in 1945 was well-timed. It was the same for Vercesi, who, two years later openly challenged the decision to set up the Party, in line with the critique that he himself had developed ten years earlier in Bilan against the initiatives of Trotsky. But at least for Trotsky the constitution of the Party was a correct conclusion based on an incorrect analysis. Trotsky saw in the France of the Popular Front and in the Spanish Civil War “the beginning of a revolutionary upsurge” which implied the necessity to immediately constitute the Party. The Bordigist Party can’t even claim a false analysis. This is why it has developed an aberrant theory that completely detaches the constitution of the party from any link with the real situation of the proletarian struggle. In his pyramidic conception of the Party, even Bordiga (who sat at the top of the pyramid) remained nonetheless based on the class of which he was the direct product. In the dialectic of today’s Bordigists, by contrast, the Party rests suspended in mid-air, as if it had been levitated, completely detached from the real movement of the class: it can be constituted even if the class is undergoing the worst conditions of defeat and demoralization – all it needs is its theoretical understanding and its will. With every little Bordigist group thus turning its back on the experience of the working class, turning up its nose at its lessons, and proclaiming itself as the Unique Reconstituted World Party, it’s not surprising that they understand absolutely nothing of the significance of a period of rising class struggle, of the process that this necessity implies, of the tendency towards the regroupment of revolutionaries. So the Bordigists continue to march against the tide.

Yesterday they went up when the escalator was going down, today they step down when the escalator is going up. Twenty years ago, they hurled calls for the regroupment of revolutionaries into the desert. Today, when it appears possible, they don’t cease to denigrate it, shutting themselves up, along with their ‘dignity’ in the isolation of their cocoon. Any idea of discussion amongst revolutionaries is for them pure blasphemy, not to mention regroupment that, it seems, can never be anything but “the constitution of a political organization objectively against the left and the revolution”. Are we really to believe that they are that ignorant of the real, rather than the mythical, history of the revolutionary movement? Weren’t the Communist League, the Ist, IInd, and IIIrd Internationals, and all the workers’ parties, all constituted through a process of encounter and discussion amongst the scattered groups, in a converging movement towards a political and organizational unity? Didn’t Lenin’s Iskra advocate this process so as to leave behind the dispersed ‘circles’ and give birth to the Russian Party? Did the (late) constitution of the Italian Communist Party at Livorno follow any different path? And wasn’t the precipitous reconstruction of the PCI after World War II, also the product of meetings between various groups?

The PCI of Florence ends its article with the complaint: “It is tiresome to have to periodically attend such miseries.” Basically they are right; they have quite enough misery on their own plate without having to look for it elsewhere.

Only slightly different – as regards the basis of its arguments – is the reply from the second PCI (Programma). What makes it especially distinguished is its grossness. The article’s title, ‘The struggle between the Fottenti and Fottuti’ (literally, the struggle between the fuckers and the fucked) indicates already the stature that the Programma PCI gives itself – which really is hardly accessible to anyone else. Are we to believe that Programma is so saturated in Stalinist habits that they can only imagine the confrontation of positions among revolutionaries in terms of ‘rapists’ and ‘raped’? For Programma, no discussion is possible among groups who base themselves on the firm ground of communism; in fact it’s especially impossible among such groups. One may, if it comes to the crunch, march alongside Trotskyists, Maoists and such like in a phantom soldiers’ committee, or sign leaflets with these and other leftists for ‘the defense of immigrant workers’, but never can one consider discussion with other communist groups, or even among the numerous Bordigist Parties. Among these groups there can only be a rapport de force, and if they can’t be destroyed, their very existence must be ignored! Rape or impotence, such is the sole alternative that Programma wants to offer the communist movement, the sole model for relations between its groups. Not having any other conception, they see this vision everywhere and gladly attribute it to others. An international conference of communist groups cannot, in their eyes, have any other objective than splitting off a few members from another group. And if Programma didn’t come, it’s certainly not for lack of desire to ‘rape’, but because they were afraid of being impotent.

In vain does Programma heap a string of sarcasms on the criteria that served as a framework for inviting the groups. Would they have preferred the absence of any criteria? Or would they have preferred other criteria, and if so, which ones if you please? The criteria which have been established aim to set out a framework which would allow a discussion between groups tracing their origins in the Communist Left, while eliminating anarchist, Trotskyist, Maoist and other leftist tendencies. These criteria form an organic whole, and can’t be separated from each other in the way that amuses Programma so much. They don’t claim to be a platform for unification, but – more modestly – a framework to indicate with whom and on what basis to carry on discussions. But for Programma, you can only discuss with yourself, for fear of being impotent in a confrontation of positions with other communist groups. Programma takes refuge in ‘solitary pleasure’. This is the virility of a sect – and its only means of satisfaction.

Programma severely remonstrates against those who call into question “the method used by the Bolshevik party to pose the relationship between the communist party and the working class”. But whatever Programma thinks, this ‘method’ isn’t an untouchable taboo and is something that can be discussed. This is how it’s always been in the communist movement, and, besides, this ‘method’ hasn’t gained anything by being turned into the outlandish caricature that the Bordigists have made of it. And when Programma cries “Yes, the International broke with Social Democracy, but even before that it had broken with all childish, spontaneist, anti-party, illuminist, and, from the ideological point of view, bourgeois versions”, it is rewriting history to suit itself. The groups invited to the first, founding Congress of the IIIrd International were infinitely more heterogeneous than Programma pretends. At this Congress you could find anyone from anarcho-syndicalists to thinly-veneered left socialists. The only precise points in all this confusion and lack of cohesion were: 1. the break with Social Democracy and 2. support for the October Revolution. It was only after this that the breaks began, and it’s also the case that they were directed essentially against the Left (though not always in a coherent way), while the door was left wide open for the left Social Democrats and other opportunists. Since when have the Bordigists exalted and applauded the opportunist degeneration of the Communist International? The theses of the Second Congress on revolutionary parliamentarism, on the conquest of the unions, on the national and colonial question; the policy of holding conferences with the IInd and 2½ Internationals – all of these were so many signposts in the decay of the Communist International. This is the orientation that the Bordigists glorify now that they’ve declared themselves to be a new International Communist Party. Isn’t this “making a real mockery of your own adherents” as Programma’s article points out so well?

Programma violently accuses us of being ‘anti-party’. This is a pure Bordigist invention, which contains as much truth as the PIC’s accusation that we are ‘Bordigo-Leninists’. None of the groups at the Conference called into questions the necessity for the party. What is open to question is what kind of party – what is its function and what must be the relationship between party and class. It’s absolutely untrue that either the First Congress of the CI or the 21 Conditions have provided a complete and definitive answer to these problems. The history of the CI, the experience of the Russian Revolution, the degeneration of the Communist Parties – all of this confronts revolutionaries in today’s period of rising class struggle with the urgent task of giving a more precise response to these questions. The Bordigist conception of an infallible, omniscient, all-powerful Party seems to us to be closer to a religious viewpoint than a marxist one.  With the Bordigists, as with the monotheist religion of the Hebrews, everything is turned on its head. God (the Party) is not a product of human consciousness: it’s Jehovah (the Party) who chooses His people (the class). The Party is no longer the expression of the historic movement of the class; it’s the Party that brings the class into existence. It’s not God in the image of man, but man in the image of God. We can understand, therefore, that in the Bible (Programma) such a unique God (Party) doesn’t speak to His people, but “orders and commands” at every moment. He is a jealous God. He can, if he wants, accord everything to His people – paradise and immortality. But He will never admit that man can eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Consciousness, all consciousness, is the exclusive monopoly of the Party. That’s why this God, the Party, demands full confidence, absolute recognition, total submission to His all-powerful will. When the slightest doubt or question is raised, He becomes the severe God of retribution, punishment and revenge (“unto the tenth generation”) – the God of the Kronstadt massacre, which the Bordigists defend today and for the future. The terrifying God of the Red Terror – this is the Bordigist model of the Party and it’s this model that we reject.

Bordigism has not built the international party. What it has done is to have invented a mythology of the party, in which the myth is much more consistent than the party. What above all characterizes this party-myth is its profound contempt for the class, which is denied any consciousness and any capacity for becoming conscious. This mythological conception of the party, this phantom party has today become a real obstacle to the effort to construct the world party of tomorrow. We are saying quite sincerely and without any polemical spirit that the Bordigist groups now find themselves at a crossroads: either they will commit themselves honestly, without any spirit of ‘fottenti et fottuti’, without ostracism, to the task of confrontation and discussion in the re-emerging communist movement, or they will condemn themselves to isolation and irrevocably transform themselves into a small, sclerotic, and impotent sect.

The Conference also had to witness a theatrical performance by the group FOR (Fomento Obrero Revolucionario, Spain and France). After giving its full support to the first Conference in Milan, and agreeing to come to the second and contribute by a text and in the discussions, the FOR retracted its position at the beginning of the Conference, on the pretext that it disagreed with the first point on the agenda, i.e. the evolution of the crisis and its perspectives. The FOR defends the idea that capitalism is not in an economic crisis. The present crisis, they say, is simply a conjunctural crisis of the kind capitalism has known and overcome throughout its history. Because of this it doesn’t open up any new perspectives, above all it doesn’t pave the way to any resurgence of proletarian struggle. Rather the opposite is the case. On the one hand the FOR defends the thesis of a ‘crisis of civilization’ totally independent of the economic situation. We can see in this thesis the vestiges of modernism and situationism. This isn’t the place to demonstrate that, for marxists, it’s absurd to talk about decadence and the collapse of an historical mode of production and simply base this on its super-structural and cultural manifestations, without any reference to the economic infrastructure, even going so far as to assert that this infrastructure, fundamental to any society, is flourishing and growing stronger than ever. This is an idea closer to the vagaries of Marcuse than to the thought of Marx. Thus the FOR bases its revolutionary activity not on objective economic determinism but on subjective voluntarism, a trait common to all the contestationist groups. But we must ask ourselves: were those aberrations the fundamental reason for the FOR’s withdrawal from the Conference? Not at all. Its refusal to participate at the Conference, its withdrawal from the debate, is above all an expression of the spirit of the little chapel, the spirit of ‘everyone for themselves’ that still strongly impregnates the groups of the communist left. It is a spirit which only be overcome by the development of the class struggle and the development of consciousness in the revolutionary groups themselves.

Breaking with this spirit of isolation, of turning in on oneself – the heritage of fifty years of counter-revolution; showing the possibility and the necessity of establishing contacts and discussion between revolutionary groups – this was the most positive thing in the work of the Conference.

In Milan there were only two groups; at this second Conference in Paris there were five groups from several countries [7]. We think that this is a very important step and one that must be followed up. The Conference didn’t give birth to a hypothetical unification, or an ephemeral Party, because this wasn’t the immediate objective of the Conference. The Conference didn’t even adopt any joint resolutions. It confirmed the existence of a number of real divergences, and even more of the incomprehension and misunderstandings that exist in the revolutionary milieu. This should in no way discourage us because we have never sown the illusion that there already exists a unity of positions and points of view. This unity cannot fall from the sky. It can only be the fruit of a long period of discussions and confrontations between revolutionary groups within a context of rising class struggle. It thus depends equally on the willingness and capacity of these groups to break with the spirit of the sect, to know how to persevere in this difficult task and work towards the regroupment of revolutionaries.

The debates at the Conference – which can be read in the forthcoming pamphlet on the proceedings – showed many inadequacies, gaps and confusions, both in the analyses and the perspectives put forward by the various groups. But it also showed that meetings and discussions can lead to positive, even if very limited, results. It demonstrated something that Engels was always saying – that he and Marx saw the further development of the workers’ movement coming about through discussion.

The Conference showed a unanimous desire to continue this effort, to prepare and prepare more effectively new conferences, and to enlarge them to other groups coming from the left communist tradition and conforming to the criteria established. This is an extremely limited project and we are well aware that it offers no guarantees of success. In any case, history tells us that there are no absolute guarantees. But what we are sure of is that there is no other road to the regroupment of revolutionaries, to the constitution of the world communist party, that indispensable weapon for the victory of the proletarian revolution. The ICC is determined to follow this road without any reservations, with all its conviction and all its will.


[1] “For there is no organizational or programmatic continuity for a non-fossilized revolutionary to lay claim to” (Jeune Taupe, no.23, p.10). ‘No continuity’ declares the PIC: that’s why it’s fallen so passionately into the welcoming arms of the socialist left.

[2] The article ‘Combat Communiste’, in Jeune Taupe, no. 23.

[3] ibid

[4] ibid

[5] On this point, the Spartacus group of Holland shows so little interest in the movement outside its own country, that it thought that the invitation to the PC International (Bordigist) was addressed to the PC of Italy (Stalinist). A small error, but one which was used as an additional ‘reason’ for abstaining from the Conference!

[6] Title of an article in II Partito Comunista, no. 48, August 1978.


[7] The five groups participating in the Conference were the ICC, PCI – Battaglia Comunista (Italy), Communist Workers’ Organization (UK), Nucleo Comunista Internazionalista (Italy) and Fur Kommunismen (Sweden).


Political currents and reference: 

Development of proletarian consciousness and organisation: