Historic Course

A collection of articles on the question of the historic course.

The idea of the historic course in the revolutionary movement

Since the report on the class struggle to the last Congress, there have been no immediate shifts in the overall situation facing the class. The proletariat has demonstrated, through various struggles, that its combativity remains intact and that its discontent is growing (eg transport workers in New York, 'general strike' in Norway, struggles in numerous sectors in France, postal workers in Britain, movements in peripheral countries like Brazil, China, etc). But the situation continues to be much more clearly defined by the difficulties facing the class - difficulties imposed by the conditions of decomposing capitalism but continually reinforced by the bourgeoisie's ideological campaigns about the 'end of the working class', the 'new economy', 'globalisation', and even 'anti-capitalism'. Within the proletarian political milieu, meanwhile, there remain fundamental disagreements about the balance of class forces, with certain groups using the ICC's 'idealist' view of the historic course as a reason for not participating in any joint initiative against the war in Kosovo. This is certainly one reason to focus this report not so much on the struggles of the recent period, but on trying to deepen our understanding of the concept of the historic course as it has developed in the workers' movement: if we are to answer these criticisms effectively, we must obviously go to the historical root of the misunderstandings that infect the proletarian milieu. Another reason is that one of the weaknesses in our own analyses of recent struggles has been a tendency towards immediatism, a tendency to concentrate on particular struggles as 'proof' of our position on the course, or on the difficulties of the struggle as a possible basis for calling our conceptions into question. What follows is very far from an exhaustive survey; it's main aim is to assist the organisation to acquaint itself more closely with the general method through which marxism has approached this question.

The CWO and the Course of History: Accumulation of Contradictions

Inn°5 of Revolutionary Perspectives, the organ of the Communist Workers’Organisation (CWO), we find an article entitled “Sects, Lies, and the LostPerspective of the ICC”, which is intended as a response to our article “ARudderless Policy of Regroupment”, published in the International Reviewn°87 (this text itself being a reply to a letter from the CWO published in thesame issue of the Review). The CWO’s article deals with many questions,notably the method by which communist organisations should be built, to whichwe will return in a later issue of this Review. In this article we willlargely limit ourselves to one aspect of the CWO’s polemic: the idea that theICC is in crisis because of its mistakes in analysing the historic course.

Reply to BC on the Course of History

Since 1968, the revolutionary groups which have come to form the ICC have been arguing that the international wave of workers’ struggles which began in France that year marked a new period in the balance of forces between bourgeoisie and proletariat: the ending of the long period of counter-revolution which followed the reflux of the 1917-23 revolution wave; the opening up of a course towards generalised was class confrontations. While the accelerating collapse of the capitalist economy could not fail to push the bourgeoisie towards another world war, this same economic disintegration was provoking a vigorous resistance by a new and undefeated generation of workers.

Why the alternative is war or revolution

Between 1845 and 1847, the world, and Europe in particular, following on from a series ofbad harvests, went through a grave economic crisis. In France the price of grain doubled, giving rise tohunger riots. The ruined peasants could no longer buy industrial products:unemployment  became general, wages fell,the number of bankruptcies soared. The working class embarked on a struggle forreforms: for the limitation of the working day, for a minimum wage, for jobs,for the right to form associations and to strike, for civil equality and thesuppression of privileges, etc.

The course of history

how is it that the ICC can talk about the intensification of inter-imperialist antagonisms today, while at the same time asserting that, since the end of the 1960s, bourgeois society has been in a period of rising class struggle? Isn’t there a contradiction between warning against the danger of war in Africa and the Middle East, and the analysis which holds that the economic crisis has opened up a new course towards proletarian struggle, towards a decisive confrontation between the classes? Are we living through re-run of the 1930s, with generalized war looming on the horizon, or is there a revolutionary perspective in front of us?
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