All ICC congresses are obviously very important moments in the life of our organisation. However, the first thing that has to be said about the one we held in the spring is that it even more important than the ones before it, because it marked a very significant step in over thirty years of existence.
The presence of groups from the proletarian political milieu
The main illustration of this fact is the presence at our congress of three groups from the international proletarian camp: OpOp from Brazil, the SPA from South Korea and the EKS from Turkey. Another group was also invited to the congress, the Internasyonalismo group from the Philippines, but despite its strong wish to send a delegation, this proved impossible. However the group sent greetings to the congress and a took written position on the main reports submitted to it.
The presence of several groups from the proletarian milieu at an ICC congress is not a novelty. In the past, at the very beginnings of its existence, the ICC welcomed delegations from other groups. Thus, at its founding conference in January 1975 there were delegations from the Revolutionary Workers' Group in the USA, Pour Une Intervention Communiste in France and Revolutionary Perspectives in the UK. At its second congress in 1977 there was a delegation from the Partito Comunista Internazionalista (Battaglia Comunista). At its third congress in 1979 there were comrades from the Communist Workers' Organisation (UK), the Nucleo Comunista Internazionalista and Il Leninista (Italy), as well as an individual comrade from Scandinavia. After this, unfortunately, this practice was not continued, for reasons independent of our will: the disappearance of certain groups, the evolution of others towards leftist positions (such as the NCI) and a sectarian approach by the groups (CWO and Battaglia) who had taken it on themselves to sabotage the international conferences of the groups of the communist left which were held at the end of the 70s. As a result, it's been over a quarter of a century since we have been able to welcome other proletarian groups to one of our congresses. Just in itself, the presence of four groups at our congress was therefore a very important event.
The significance of the 17th Congress
But the importance of this congress goes beyond the fact that it was able to renew a practise that had been characteristic of the ICC since its beginnings. What's more fundamental is the significance of the existence and attitude of these groups. They are part of a historical situation which we already identified at our previous congress: "A central concern of the 16th congress was to examine the revival in the struggles of the working class and the responsibilities this confers on our organisation, notably in response to the development of a new generation of elements moving towards a revolutionary political perspective".
At the time of the collapse of the eastern bloc and the Stalinist regimes in 1989,
"The deafening campaigns of the bourgeoisie about the ‘failure of communism', the ‘definitive victory of liberal democratic capitalism', ‘the end of the class struggle' and even of the working class itself, led to an important retreat by the proletariat, both at the level of its consciousness and its militancy. This retreat went deep and lasted more than 10 years. It marked a whole generation of workers, resulting in disarray and even demoralisation.... It was not until 2003, notably in the shape of the big mobilisations against attacks on pensions in France and Austria, that the proletariat really began to emerge from the retreat which had affected it since 1989. Since then, this tendency towards the revival of class struggles and the development of class consciousness has been further verified. Workers' struggles have affected most of the central countries, including the most important of them such as the USA (Boeing and New York transport in 2005) Germany (Daimler and Opel in 2004, hospital doctors in spring 2006, Deutsche Telekom in the spring of 2007), Britain (London Airport in August 2005) France (notably the movement of university and high school students against the CPE in spring 2006) but also a whole series of struggles in the periphery such as Dubai (building workers in spring 2006), Bangladesh (textile workers in spring 2006), Egypt (textile, transport and other workers in the spring of 2007)".
"Today, as in 1968, [at the time of the historic resurgence of workers' struggles which put an end to four decades of counter-revolution] the recovery of class combats is accompanied by a deep reflection, and the appearance of new elements who are turning towards the positions of the communist left is just the tip of the iceberg."
This why the presence of several groups from the proletarian milieu at the congress, the very open attitude towards discussion shown by these groups (which is a real break from the sectarian attitude of the "old" groups of the communist left) is not at all accidental: it is an integral part of the new stage in the development of the combat of the world proletariat against capitalism.
The work of the congress, in particular through the testimonies offered by different sections and by the invited groups, con-firmed the reality of this tendency, from Belgium to India, and from Brazil to Turkey and Korea, in the central countries as well as those in the periphery, both at the level of the immediate struggle and of the development of a process of reflection among elements heading towards the positions of the communist left. A tendency which has also taken the form of the integration of new militants into the organisation, including in countries where there haven't previously been any new integrations for several decades, and in the constitution of an ICC nucleus in Brazil. This is a very important event for us and will contribute significantly to the development of the political presence of our organisation in the most important country in Latin America - a country which has the biggest industrial concentrations in this region and some of the biggest internationally. The creation of our nucleus is the concretisation of work that the ICC began over 15 years ago. This work has intensified in recent years through the contacts we have made with different groups and elements, in particular the OpOp, which sent a delegation to the congress, but also in the state of Sao Paulo, where there is also a group in formation, influenced by the positions of the communist left. We have recently established regular political relations with this group, including joint public meetings. The collaboration with these groups is not at all in contradiction with our aim of developing the specific political presence of the ICC in Brazil. On the contrary, our permanent presence in this country will make it possible to strengthen the collaboration between our organisations, all the more so because between our nucleus and the OpOp there is already a long shared history, based on mutual respect and confidence.
The discussions at the Congress
Given the particular circumstances in which this congress was being held, the first point on the agenda was the question of the class struggle, while the second was the new revolutionary forces appearing or developing in the present period. We can't give an account in this short article of the discussions which took place: the resolution on the international situation (which is published elsewhere in this issue of International Review) provides a synthesis of its main elements. What we want to underline here are the new and particular features of the present development of the class struggle. It was shown in particular that the gravity of the crisis of capitalism, the violence of the attacks now being made on the class, and the dramatic stakes of the world situation in general, characterised by the drift towards military barbarism and the growing threat to the planetary environment, are all elements which will tend to politicise the workers' struggle. The situation is somewhat different from the one we saw in the wake of the historic resurgence of struggles in 1968, when the margin of manoeuvre still available to capital made it possible to maintain illusions that "tomorrow will be better than today". Today such an illusion is no longer possible: the new generations of workers, as well as the older ones, are more and more aware that "tomorrow will be worse than today". Because of this, even if such a perspective can be a factor leading to demoralisation and demobilisation, the struggles which the working class is being forced to wage against the attacks will more and more lead it to become aware that these struggles are a preparation for a much bigger struggle against a dying system. Even now, the struggles we have seen since 2003, "are more and more incorporating the question of solidarity. This is vitally important because it constitutes par excellence the antidote to the ‘every man for himself' attitude typical of social decomposition, and above all because it is at the heart of the world proletariat's capacity not only to develop its present struggles but also to overthrow capitalism".
Even though the principal concern of the congress was the question of the class struggle, other aspects of the international situation were also dealt with. Thus it devoted a lot of time to the question of the economic crisis, examining in particular the present growth of certain "emerging" countries like China and India, which seems to contradict the analyses made by our organisation, and marxists in general, about the definitive bankruptcy of the capitalist mode of production. Following a very detailed report and an in-depth discussion, the congress concluded that:
"The exceptional rates of growth we are currently seeing in countries like India and China in no way prove that there is new life in the world economy, even if they have made a considerable contribution to the high rates of growth in the last period. At the root of this exceptional growth is, paradoxically, once again the crisis of capitalism.... Thus, far from representing a breath of air for the capitalist economy, the 'miracle' in China and a certain number of other third world countries is yet another embodiment of the decadence of capitalism. ...Thus, just as the ‘miracle' of the two figure growth of the Asian tigers and dragons came to a sorry end in 1997, the current Chinese miracle, even if it does not have identical origins and has far greater assets at its disposal, will sooner or later be confronted with the harsh reality of the historic impasse of the capitalist mode of production".
We should note that, on the question of the economic crisis, the Congress echoes the debates currently taking place in our organisation about how to analyse the mechanisms which allowed capitalism to achieve spectacular rates of growth after the Second World War. The different analyses that presently exist within the ICC (all of which however reject the idea, defended by the IBRP or by the "Bordigist" groups, that war represents a "momentary solution" to the contradictions of capitalism) had an impact on the way we understand the present economic dynamism of certain "emerging" countries, notably China. And it is precisely because the congress paid particular attention to this latter phenomenon that the divergences within the organisation needed to be ex-pressed at the congress. Obviously, as we have done in the past, we will publish documents in the International Review that give an account of this debate as soon as it has reached a sufficient level of clarity.
Finally, the impact on the bourgeoisie of the dead-end reached by capitalist society and the resulting descent into decomposition was the object of two discussions: one on the consequences of this situation inside each country, the other on the evolution of imperialist antagonisms between states. These two aspects being closely connected, particularly to the extent that conflicts within national bourgeoisies can derive from different approaches towards imperialist conflicts (what alliances to make with other states, how to use military force, etc). On the first point, the congress showed how all the official speeches about "less state" simply mask a continual strengthening of the role of the state in society, given that the state is the only organ that can prevent society from succumbing to the tendency towards "every man for himself", which characterises the phase of the decomposition of capital-ism. There was a strong emphasis on the spectacular reinforcement of the police apparatus, including in the most "democratic" countries such as the USA and Britain. The strengthening of the police apparatus is officially motivated by the rise of terrorism (another phenomenon linked to decomposition but in which the most powerful bourgeoisies have also played a considerable role) but permits the ruling class to prepare for future confrontations with the proletariat. Concerning the question of imperialist confrontations, the congress pointed out the failure of the policies of the world's most powerful bourgeoisie, that of the USA, above all since its adventure in Iraq, and the fact that this reveals the general impasse faced by capitalism: "In fact, the arrival of the team of Cheney, Rumsfeld and Co. to the reins of the state was not the simple result of a monumental mistake in casting by the ruling class. While it has considerably worsened the situation of the US on the imperialist level, it was already the expression of the impasse facing the US given the growing weakening of its leadership and more generally given the development of the ‘every man for himself' in international relations which characterises the phase of decomposition".
More generally, the Congress underlined that "the military chaos developing around the world, plunging vast regions into hell-ish desolation, notably in the Middle East but also and above all in Africa, is not the only manifestation of the historic impasse reached by capitalism, nor even the most dangerous for the human species. Today it has become clear that the maintenance of the capitalist system brings with it the threat of the destruction of the environment which made the rise of humanity possible".
This part of the discussion concluded by affirming that "The alternative announced by Engels at the end of the 19th century, socialism or barbarism, has been a sinister reality throughout the 20th century. What the 21st century offers us as a perspective is quite simply socialism or the destruction of humanity. These are the real stakes facing the only force in society capable of over-throwing capitalism: the world working class."
The responsibility of revolutionaries
This perspective underlines all the more the decisive importance of the workers' struggles now developing on a world wide scale. It also emphasises the fundamental role of revolutionary organisations, and notably the ICC, in intervening in these struggles in order to develop an awareness of what's at stake in the world today.
Here the congress drew a very positive balance sheet of the intervention of our organisation in the class struggle and in re-sponse to the questions it raises. It underlined in particular the ICC's ability to mobilise its forces on an international scale (articles in the press, on the internet, public meetings, etc) to disseminate the lessons of one of the major episodes of the class struggle dur-ing the recent period: the combat of the student youth against the CPE in the spring of 2006 in France. It was noted that our web-site had seen a spectacular rise in audience during this period, a proof that revolutionaries not only have the responsibility but also the possibility to counteract the blackout that the bourgeois media systematically organises around proletarian movements.
The congress also drew a very positive balance sheet of our policy towards groups and elements working towards the defence of the positions of the communist left. During the last period, as we said at the beginning of this article, the ICC has integrated a number of new comrades following thorough-going discussions (as is always the case with our organisation which contrary to the practise of the leftists does not seek to recruit new members at any price). The ICC has also had an active participation in various internet forums, especially in the English language, which is the most important language on the world level. Our participation in forums where it is possible to put forward class positions has enabled a number of elements to get a better understanding of our views and our attitude to discussion, and to overcome a certain amount of the distrust that is kept up by the multitude of parasitic sects whose role is not to contribute to the development of consciousness in the working class but to sow suspicion towards the organisations which are indeed carrying out that role. But the most positive aspect of this policy has without doubt been our capacity to establish or strengthen links with other groups based on revolutionary positions, as illustrated by the participation of four of these groups in our congress. This has been the fruit of a considerable effort by the ICC, which has sent delegations to a number of countries (obviously to Brazil, Korea, Turkey and the Philippines but elsewhere as well).
The growing responsibility that falls on the ICC, at the level both of intervention in workers' struggles and of discussion with groups and elements situated on a class terrain, requires a strengthening of its organisational tissue. This was seriously affected at the beginning of 2000 by a crisis which exploded in the wake of our 14th Congress, and which resulted in the convocation of an extraordinary conference a year later, as well as being the subject of a good deal of reflection at our 15th Congress in 2003. As this congress noted, and as the 16th Congress confirmed, the ICC has on the whole overcome the organisational weaknesses which lay behind this crisis. One of the most important elements in the ICC's ability to deal with these weaknesses was its insistence on examining these problems in a deep and attentive manner. In order to do this, in 2001 the ICC set up a special commission, distinct from its central organ, and like the central organ nominated by the congress, with the specific mandate of carrying out this work. This commission reported on its mandate, noting that alongside important signs of progress made by our organisation, a certain number of sections still bore the "scars" of past difficulties. This is the proof that the construction of an organisational tissue is never complete and demands a permanent effort on the part of the whole organisation and all its militants. This is why the congress, on the basis of this necessity and of the key role played by this commission in recent years, decided to give it a permanent character by inscribing it into the ICC's statutes. This is not at all an "innovation" by our organisation. In fact it corresponds to a tradition in the political organisations of the working class. Thus the German Social Democratic Party, which was the reference point of the Second International, formed a "Control Commission" with the same kind of attributes.
This said, one of the major elements in our organisation's capacity to overcome the crisis, and even to come out of it stronger than before, was its ability to look at its organisational difficulties in their historical and theoretical dimension. This process of reflection was in particular carried out around the various orientation texts, significant extracts of which have been published in the International Review. The congress continued in this direction by devoting time to discussing an orientation text on the culture of debate, which had been circulated in the ICC several months previously, and which will eventually be published in the International Review. This question does not only concern the internal life of the organisation. The intervention of revolutionaries implies that they are capable of producing the most pertinent and profound analyses possible and that they can put forward these analyses effectively within the working class in order to contribute to the development of its consciousness. And this means that they have to be able to discuss these analyses in the most thorough way, learn how to present them to the class as a whole and towards elements searching for clarity, always with the concern to take into account the questions and concerns that preoccupy them. In fact, to the degree that the ICC is faced both within its own ranks and in the class as a whole with the emergence of a new generation of militants or elements who want to struggle for the overthrow of capitalism, it has to make all the necessary effort to re-appropriate fully and communicate to this generation one of the most precious elements in the experience of the workers' movement, intimately linked to the critical method of marxism: the culture of debate.
The culture of debate
The presentation and the discussion of this question pointed out that in all the splits we have been through in the history of the ICC, a tendency towards monolithism played a fundamental role. As soon as divergences appeared, certain militants began to say that we could no longer work together, that the ICC had become or was about to become a bourgeois organisation etc, whereas these divergences could, for the most part, have been contained within a non-monolithic organisation. Indeed, the ICC has learned from the Italian communist left that even when divergences concern fundamental principles, the most profound collective clarification is necessary before any organisational separation takes place. In this sense, these splits were for the most part an extreme manifestation of the lack of a culture of debate and even of a monolithic vision. However, these problems were not eliminated by the departure of the militants. They were also the expression of a more general difficulty in the ICC on this question, since there were confusions in our own ranks which could end in a slide towards monolithism, confusions which tend to annihilate debate rather than develop it. And these confusions continue to exist. We should not exaggerate the scale of these problems. They are confusions, slidings which appear from time to time. But as history shows - the history of the ICC but also of the workers' movement - small slidings and confusions can become big and dangerous ones if you don't go to the roots of the problem.
In the history of the communist left, there are currents who have defended and theorised monolithism. The Bordigist current is a caricature of this. The ICC on the contrary is the heir to the tradition of the communist left of Italy and of France who were the most resolute adversaries of monolithism and who put into the practise the culture of debate in a very determined way.
The ICC was founded on this understanding and it is enshrined in its statutes. For this reason, it's clear that while problems still exist in practise on this question, in general no ICC militant is opposed to developing the notion of the culture of debate. Having said this, it is necessary to point to the persistence of a certain number of difficulties. The first of these is a tendency to pose each discussion in terms of a conflict between marxism and opportunism, between Bolshevism and Menshevism, and even between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. Such an approach only makes sense if we have the idea of an immutable communist programme. And here at least Bordigism is consistent: the "invariance" and the monolithism that it advocates go hand in hand. But if we accept that marxism is not a dogma, that truth is relative, that it is not fixed but constitutes a process, and thus that we will never stop learning because reality is permanently changing, then it is evident that the need to deepen, but also confusions and even errors are normal, even necessary steps towards arriving at class consciousness. What is decisive is the collective effort, active participation in the movement towards clarification.
It has to be said that this approach of seeing the presence of opportunism - i.e. the tendency towards bourgeois positions - in every debate can lead to a sort of banalisation of the danger of opportunism and to putting all debates at the same level. Experience shows us precisely that in the rare discussions where basic principles are put into question, it has often proved hard to see that this was the case: if everything is opportunism then in the end nothing is opportunism.
Another consequence of this approach of seeing opportunism and bourgeois ideology everywhere and in all debates is that it inhibits debate. Militants "no longer have the right" to have confusions, to express them, or to make mistakes because they are immediately seen, or see themselves, as potential traitors. Certain debates do indeed have the character of confrontations between bourgeois positions and proletarian positions. This is the expression of a crisis and of the danger of degeneration. But in the life of the proletariat this is not the general rule. If all debates are put at this level, you can end up with the idea that debate itself is the expression of a crisis.
Another problem which, again, exists more at the level of practice than in a theorised way, consists in the idea that the discussion has to convince others of the correct position as quickly as possible. It's an attitude which leads to impatience, to a tendency to monopolise discussion, and to seek to "crush the opposition" to some extent. Such an approach makes it difficult to listen to what others are saying. It's true that in general, in a society marked by individualism and competition, it is difficult to listen to others. But not listening leads to an attitude of closing off to the world, which is the very opposite of a revolutionary attitude. In this sense, it is necessary to understand that the most important thing about a debate is that it takes place, that it develops, that there is the widest possible participation and that a real clarification can emerge. In the end, the collective life of the proletariat, when it is capable of developing, will bring the clarification. The will to clarify is a characteristic of the proletariat as a class. Above all it demands truth and not falsification. This is why Rosa Luxemburg said that the first task of a revolutionary is to tell it like it is. Confused attitudes on these issues are not the rule in the ICC, but they do exist and can be dangerous, so they need to be overcome. In particular it is necessary to de-dramatise debates. Most of the discussions within the organisation, and many of the discussions we hold outside, are not confrontations between bourgeois and proletarian positions. They are discussions where, on the basis of shared positions and a common goal, we are aiming to deepen collectively, to move from confusion to clarity.
The capacity of revolutionary organisations to develop a real culture of debate is one of the major signs that they belong to the working class, of their capacity to remain alive and attuned to its needs. And such an approach is not limited to communist organisations: it belongs to the proletariat as a whole. It's through its own discussions, especially in its general assemblies, that the class develops the ability to draw lessons from its experience and to take its consciousness forward. Sectarianism and the refusal to discuss, which unfortunately characterise a certain number of organisations in the proletarian camp, are in no way a proof of their "intransigence" towards bourgeois ideology or confusion. On the contrary it is an expression of their fear of defending their own positions and in the final analysis of a lack of conviction in their validity.
The intervention of the invited groups
This culture of debate informed all the work of the congress. And this was welcomed by the delegations of the invited groups, who also gave us the benefit of their own experience and thoughts.
Thus one of the comrades of the delegation from Korea expressed, "the striking impression made by the spirit of fraternity, of debate, of the relations of camaraderie which he had not been used to in his pervious experience and which he envied". Another comrade from this delegation expressed his conviction that, "the discussion on the culture of debate will be fruitful for the development of their own activity and that it was important that the ICC, as well as their own group, don't see themselves as being ‘alone in the world'."
For its part, the OpOp delegation, "expressed a very fraternal salute to the congress" and "its satisfaction in participating in such an important event". For the delegation, "this congress is not only an important event for the ICC but for the working class as a whole. We are learning a lot from the ICC. We have learned a lot over the past three years through the contacts we have had with it and the debates we have held together in Brazil. We already took part in a previous congress (of the French section, last year) and we saw how serious the ICC is about debate, its will to be open to debate, not to be afraid of debate and not to be afraid of confronting positions different from its own. On the contrary its aim is to stimulate debate and we want to thank the ICC for having shown us this approach. We also salute the way the ICC is looking at the question of the new generations, present and future. We are learning from this heritage that the ICC refers to and which has been transmitted to us by the workers' movement since its beginnings." At the same time the delegation expressed its conviction that, "the ICC has also learned alongside the OpOp", notably when its delegation participated alongside the OpOp in an intervention in a workers' assembly dominated by the unions.
The delegate from the EKS also underlined the importance of debate in the development of revolutionary positions in the class, notably for the new generations:
"To begin with I would like to underline the importance of the debates for the new generation. We have some young elements in our group and we have been politicised through debate. We have really learned through debate, especially among the young elements with whom we have come into contact.... I think that for the young generation debate will in the future be a very important aspect of its political development. We met a comrade who came from a very poor workers' neighbourhood in Istanbul and who was older than us. He told us that in the neighbourhood he came from workers always want to discuss. But the leftists who do political work in the workers' neighbourhoods always try to liquidate debate very quickly and get onto ‘practical things'. I think that the proletarian culture we are discussing here and which I have experienced in this congress is a negation of the leftist method of discussion seen as a competition. I would like to make a few comments on the debates between internationalist groups. First I think that it is evident that such debates have to be as constructive and fraternal as possible and that we always have to bear in mind that debates are a collective effort to arrive at political clarification among revolutionaries. It is absolutely not a competition or something which should create hostility or rivalry. This is the total negation of the collective effort to arrive at new conclusions, to reach the truth. It is also important that the debate between internationalist groups be as regular as possible be-cause this is a great aid to clarification for all those who are involved at the international level. I think that it is necessary for debate to be open to all the proletarian elements who are interested. I also think that it is significant for debates to be public for the revolutionary elements who are interested. Debate is not limited to those who are directly implicated. The debate itself, what is discussed, is a great aid for someone who simply reads. For example I remember that a while back I was very afraid of debating but very interested in reading. This idea of reading debates and their results is enormously helpful and it is very important for the debates that have taken place to be public for all those interested. This is a very effective way of developing theoretically and politically".
The very warm interventions made by the delegations of the invited groups had nothing to do with an attitude of flattery to-wards the ICC. Thus the comrades from Korea made a certain number of criticisms of the congress, in particular regretting that it didn't go back over the experience of our intervention in the movement against the CPE in France or that the analysis of the economic situation of China didn't take into account the social situation and the struggles of the working class there. All the ICC delegations paid particular attention to these criticisms, which will enable the organisation to be more aware of the concerns and expectations of other groups of the proletarian camp and stimulate our effort to deepen our analyses of a question as important as the situation in China. Obviously the elements and analyses which the other groups can bring to this question, especially the groups in the Far East, will be precious for our own work.
During the course of the congress the interventions of the invited groups were also important for our understanding of the world situation, notably when they provided precise elements with regard to the situation in their own countries. We can't in the context of this article reproduce in full the interventions by the delegations, elements of which will eventually figure in articles in our press. We will limit ourselves to bringing out their most striking elements. With regard to the class struggle, the EKS delegate insisted on the fact that after the defeat of the massive struggles of 1989, there is a today a revival of workers' struggles in Turkey, a wave of strikes with factory occupations, in response to an economic situation which is highly dramatic for the workers. Faced with this situation, the unions are not just sabotaging struggles as they do everywhere, but they are also trying to develop national-ism among the workers by waging a campaign about "secularist Turkey". The OpOp delegation pointed out that, given the link between the unions and the present government (since president Lula was the main union leader of the country), there is a tendency for struggles to go outside the official union framework, a "rebellion at the base" as the movement in the banks called itself in 2003. The new economic attacks that the Lula government is preparing will obviously push the working class to continue its struggles, even if the unions adopt a much more "critical" attitude towards Lula.
Another important contribution from the delegations from OpOp and the EKS concerned the imperialist policies of Turkey and Brazil. Thus OpOp provided elements enabling us to get a better understanding of the position taken up by the latter, which on the one hand is showing itself to be a loyal ally of US policy and its role of world cop (notably through its military presence in Timor and Haiti, where Brazil has command of the foreign forces), but which, on the other hand, is developing its own diplomacy, with bilateral agreements with Russia (from whom it has bought planes) India, and China (whose industrial products are in competition with Brazil's). Brazil is also developing regional imperialist policies, in which it is trying to impose conditions on countries like Bolivia and Paraguay. The EKS comrade made a very interesting intervention on the political life of the Turkish bourgeoisie (in particular the current struggle between the "Islamist" and "secularist" factions) and its imperialist ambitions. Again we can't re-produce this intervention in this article. We simply want to underline the essential idea in the conclusion to this intervention: the risk that, in a region bordering zones where imperialist conflicts are violently raging, notably Iraq, the Turkish bourgeoisie will get involved in a dramatic military spiral, making the working class pay even more for the contradictions of capitalism.
The interventions of the delegations of the invited groups, alongside those of the delegations from the ICC sections, were an important contribution to the work of the whole congress, to its reflection on all the questions on the agenda, enabling it to, "synthesise the world situation" as the delegation from the SPA of Korea remarked. In fact, as we pointed out at the beginning of this article, one of the key things about this congress was the participation of the invited groups. This was one of the major elements in the success of the congress and was enthusiastically welcomed by all the delegations during the concluding session.
Two international meetings were held a few days apart in May: the G8 summit and the ICC Congress. The contrast between these two meetings is striking from the point of view of their circumstances, their goals and their way of functioning. On the one hand you had a meeting behind barbed wire, with an unprecedented employment of police and police repression, and where a series of declarations about the "sincerity of the debates", "peace" and the "future of humanity" were just a smokescreen to cover antagonisms between capitalist states, prepare new wars and preserve a system which has nothing to offer humanity. On the other hand you had a meeting of revolutionaries from 15 countries, combating all the smokescreens, all the false appearances, engaged in really fraternal debates in order to contribute to the only perspective that can save humanity: the united and international struggle of the working class aimed at overthrowing capitalism and installing communism.
We know that the road that leads to that goal is long and difficult, but the ICC is convinced that its 17th Congress was an important step along the way.
ICC, July 2007.
 On the history of the ICC, see International Review no. 123, "30 years of the ICC" .
 OpOp: Oposicao Operaria, Workers Opposition. This is a group implanted in several cities in Brazil, formed at the beginning of the 1990s, in particular by elements breaking from the CUT union federation and the Workers' Party of Lula (the current President of the country) to take up proletarian positions, notably on the essential question of internationalism, but also on the union question (denunciation of these organs as instruments of the bourgeoisie) and parliament (denunciation of the "democratic" masquerade). It's a group which is active in workers' struggles (notably in the banking sector), and the ICC has been holding fraternal discussions with it for several years (our Portuguese language site has published an account of our debate on historical materialism). Our two organisations have also organised several joint public meetings in Brazil (see in particular "ICC Public Meetings in Brazil: A strengthening of revolutionary positions in Latin America ", World Revolution no. 292) and published a common statement on the social situation in this country. A delegation from OpOp previously took part in the 17th Congress of our section in France in spring 2006. See World Revolution no. 297 ).
 SPA: Socialist Political Alliance. This is a group which has given itself the task of making the positions of the communist left known in Korea (in particular by translating some of its basic texts) and of animating discussions between groups and elements around these positions. The SPA organised an international conference to which the ICC, which has been discussing with this group for about a year, sent a delegation: see "Report on the conference in Korea, October 2006" in International Review no. 129. It should be noted that the participants at this conference, which took place just after the nuclear weapons tests by North Korea, adopted an "Internationalist declaration from Korea against the threat of war ", World Revolution no. 299.
 EKS: Enternasyonalist Komunist Sol, Internationalist Communist Left, a group recently formed in Turkey, which situates itself resolutely on the positions of the communist left. We have published some statements by the EKS on our website here and here .
 On the international conferences see our article "International Conferences of the Communist Left (1976-80): lessons of an experience for the proletarian milieu " in International Review no. 122. The sabotage of these conferences by the groups who were to form the International Bureau for the Revolutionary Party (IBRP) didn't however prevent the ICC from inviting the International Bureau for the Revolutionary Party (IBRP) to its 13th Congress in 1999. We felt that the gravity of imperialist conflicts at the heart of Europe (it was the moment when NATO was bombing Serbia) meant that revolutionary groups should set aside their squabbles and come together in the same place to examine the implications of the conflict and perhaps produce a common declaration. Unfortunately the IBRP turned down this invitation.
 Since Internasyonalismo was present politically even if its delegation could not be there in person.