Revolutionary organisation

Against the concept of the "brilliant leader"

In politics, there’s nothing new in a group radi­cally changing its way of seeing and acting once it has become a big organisation, a mass party. One could cite several examples of such metamorphoses. One could to some extent apply it to the Bolshevik party after the revolution. But what’s striking about the International Communist Party of Italy is the surprising rapidity with which its main leaders have undergone such a change. And this is all the more surprising in that the Italian Party, both numerically and functionally, is in essence an enlarged fraction.

The international regroupment of revolutionary forces is a precondition for the victory of the proletarian revolution

What do we mean by revolutionary strategy? Fundamentally the question we want to raise in this presentation is to understand how the internationalist groups and organisations that exist around the world today can fulfil their role and function within the working class struggle for the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism.

“International Conference of revolutionary Marxism” in Korea

In October 2006, the Korean group "Socialist Political Alliance" called a conference in the towns of Seoul and Ulsan under the title "International Conference of revolutionary Marxism" , with the explicit purpose of reinforcing the presence of Left Communist positions within the Korean working class and its political minorities.

The conference in Korea was the first of its kind in the history of the workers' movement of that country and indeed in the whole of East Asia. That such a conference should be called today, in a country still divided by the consequences of the imperialist war launched more than 50 years ago, is an event of the greatest importance. It opens a perspective for the development of the international unity of the workers' movement between East and West for the first time since the brief experience of the Third International. However modestly, it heralds the appearance on the historical stage of the proletariat of the East.

The organisation of the proletariat outside periods of open struggle (workers' groups, nuclei, circles, committees)

What is to be done outside times of open struggle? How should we organise when the strike is finished? How to prepare the struggles to come? Faced with this question, faced with the problems posed by the existence of committees, circles, nuc­lei, etc, regrouping small minorities of the work­ing class, we have no recipes to provide. We can­not choose between giving them moral lessons (‘organise yourselves like this or that’, ‘dissolve your­selves’, ‘join us’) and demagogically flattering them. Instead, our concern is this: to understand these minority expressions of the proletariat as a part of the whole class.

Class Consciousness and the Role of the Revolutionary Organization: Comment by Red and Black Notes

The exchange of views below continues a discussion with Red and Black Notes on the vitally important question of class consciousness and the role of the revolutionary organization. As readers will recall, in Internationalism 134 we published a letter to R&BN commenting on a joint public forum they held with the Internationalist Workers Group, the Canadian affiliate of the IBRP, last winter. We publish below R&BN’s response to our letter, followed by some further comments that we offer in an effort to deepen the discussion on consciousness and revolutionary organization.

On Class Consciousness: A Reponse to Red and Black Notes

As readers of Red and Black Notes and Internationalism may have noticed, a discussion has developed on the role of the revolutionary organization and its relationship to the class.  This is a central and difficult, controversial issue that has been hotly and long debated within the workers’ movement.   It is vital that the discussion continues for the benefit of clarification.  This is why we would like to carry the discussion further and approach some points on councilism that Fischer, the editor of Red and Black Notes, raised, as well as other points.

IBRP: An opportunist policy of regroupment that leads to nothing but 'abortions'

One of the aims of this article is to set out some elements of an answer to this question: how is it, and not just once, that elements who have demonstrated their inability to integrate into the communist left should turn towards the IBRP after failing in their 'approach' to the ICC? The answer may be of some use to the IBRP, but will also be helpful for those coming towards the positions of the communist left and who might perhaps be impressed by the IBRP’s presentation of itself as the “only organisation with the heritage of the Italian communist left”. More generally, the article will try to understand why the IBRP has experienced a series of failures in its policy of regroupment of revolutionary forces at the international level.

The Jury of Honour: a weapon for the defence of revolutionary organisations (Part 2)

At its 11th Congress in April 1995, the ICC took the grave decision to exclude one of its militants, the ex-comrade JJ, for destructive behaviour incompatible with member­ship of a communist organisation, notably his attempts to create within the ICC a secret network of adepts of the ideology of freemasonry (see WR 194). JJ rejected the arguments given for his exclusion, claiming that this decision was the result of a “serious deviation” by the ICC, the result of a “col­lective paranoiac delirium”. Faced with this “alternative analysis”, the ICC, in conform­ity with the traditions of the workers’ move-meat, has for two years continually at­tempted to push this ex-militant to defend himself by calling for a Court of Honour composed of representatives of other revo­lutionary organisations in order to allow the proletarian milieu to pronounce on the validity of this exclusion and to shed as much light as possible on JJ’s actions.

The Jury of Honour: a weapon for the defence of revolutionary organisations (Part 1)

Introduction (October, 2004)

At the time of its 15th international congress, in April 2003, the ICC excluded from its ranks several elements who had openly behaved like informers and who, under the name of "Internal Fraction of the ICC", had gathered around the individual Jonas (himself excluded from our organization for "behaviour unworthy of a communist militant", see 'A communique to our readers'). With regards to the attitude of Jonas and the members of the "FICCI", which consistied of refusing to defend oneself in front of the Congress of the ICC, our organisation, in accordance with the tradition of the workers' movement, had applied a policy of the defence of proletarian principles: it had proposed to them to call upon a Jury of Honour (which they refused) composed representatives of other organizations of the Communist Left, in order to make clearn the nature of their behaviour and the causes of their exclusion.

Nucleo Comunista Internacional: an episode in the proletariat's striving for consciousness

The development within the class of a deepened reflection, even if this mainly below the surface today, which can be seen in the appearance of a series of elements and groups, often young, who are turning towards the positions of the Communist Left, is obviously of vital importance, since it is one of the preconditions for the formation of the future world wide revolutionary party.

Report on the structure and functioning of the revolutionary organisation

1. The structure adopted by an organisation of revolutionaries corresponds to the function it takes up within the working class. Since a revolutionary organisation has tasks which apply to all stages of the workers' movement and also has tasks which are more particular to this or that juncture in the movement, there are constant characteristics of the organisation of revolutionaries and characteristics which are more circumstantial, more determined by the historic conditions in which it emerges and develops.


Some of these constant characteristics are:

Report on the function of the revolutionary organisation

The acceleration of events and the gravity of the 'years of truth' compel revolutionaries to deepen their conceptions about the vanguard organisation of the proletariat, about its nature and function, its structure and mode of operation.

This report on the nature and function of the organisation was adopted by the International Conference of the ICC of January 1982. In the next IR we will publish the second report, on the structure and mode of operation of the organisation.

80 years ago - the Communist International


80 years ago, in March 1919, the Communist International held its founding Congress in Moscow. The following article, originally published in WR 122, shows why this event was of immense importance for the international working class: faced with the outbreak of a massive, revolutionary challenge to capitalism all over the world, the CI was at to capitalism all over the world, the CI was at that moment the most advanced expression of the class movement, the crucible for synthesising the political programme needed to lead the movement to victory. Today, faced with the bourgeoisie's pernicious campaigns aimed at identifying communism with Stalinism and "proving" that marxist theory has been refuted by history, revolutionaries have the duty to affirm not only that they are the heirs of the CI, but also that its most central positions remain valid for the revolution of the future. The fact that the CI subsequently degenerated and succumbed to the Stalinist counter-revolution does not alter what it had been during the most heroic phase of the revolutionary wave that made the whole ruling class shake in its shoes.

Marxist and opportunist visions of building the party: debate with the IBRP

A question of method in the discussion

A recent article of ours 1 was devoted "to replying to the thesis of the IBRP that organisations such as ours are 'estranged from the method and perspectives of the work that leads to the formation of the future party'. In order to do so we have taken into consideration the two levels at which the organisational problem is posed: 1) how the future International should be conceived; 2) what policy should be followed for the construction of the organisation and the regroupment of revolutionaries, and in terms of both we have shown that it is the IBRP, not the ICC, that has abandoned the tradition of the Italian and the international Communist Left. In fact the eclecticism that guides the IBRP's policy of regroupment is similar to that of Trotsky when he was taken up with building the IVth International; the vision of the ICC on the other hand is that of the Italian Fraction, which always fought for regroupment with clarity and on a basis that would make it possible to salvage elements of the centre and those with hesitations".

The need for rigour in debate within the proletarian movement

Recent publications of the International Bureau for the Revolutionary Party, and discussions between the ICC and the CWO at the latter’s public meetings, have confirmed that the way debate between proletarian organisations is carried out has btions is carried out has become a political issue in itself.

Understanding Kronstadt

Eighty years ago in March 1921, four years after the successful seizure of power by the working class in the October Revolution in Russia in 1917, the Bolshevik Party forcibly suppressed an insurrection at the Kronstadt garri­son of the Baltic Fleet on the small island of Kotlin in the Gulf of Finland 30 kilometres from Petrograd.

The left fractions and the question of organisational discipline

In a previous article (InternationalReview n°108), we described the emergence of the leftfractions that fought the degeneration of the old workers'parties, in particular the German SPD that supported the wareffort of its national capital in 1914, and the Russian CP and theThird International as they were being transformed intoinstruments of the Russian state with the progressive defeat ofthe October Revolution. In this process, the task of the fractionswas to struggle to re-conquer the organisation for the fundamentalpositions of the proletarian programme, against their abandonmentby the opportunist right and the complete betrayal by theleadership controlling the majority of the organisation. Topreserve the organisation as an instrument of the class struggleand to save as many militants as possible, one of the leftfractions' main concerns was to remain in the party as long aspossible. However, the process of political degeneration wasinevitably accompanied by a profound modification in the partiesthemselves, and in the relationships between the militants and theorganisation as a whole. Inevitably, this situation posed for thefractions the problem of breaking party discipline in order tofulfil their task of preparing the new party of the proletariat.

1903-1904: Trotsky against Lenin

In 1904, the Russian empire was on the verge of revolution. The lumbering Czarist war machine was experiencing a humiliating defeat at the hands of a far more dynamic Japanese imperialism. The military debacle was fuelling the discontent of all strata of the population. In her pamphlet The Mass Strike, The Party and the Trade Unions, Rosa Luxemburg recounts how, already in the summer of 1903, at the very time that the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party was holding its s famous Second Congress, southern Russia had been shaken by “a colossal general strike”. The war brought a temporary halt in the class movement, and for a while the liberal bourgeoisie took centre stage with its “protest banquets” against the autocracy; but by the end of the 1904 the Caucasus was again aflame with massive workers’ strikes around the issue of unemployment. Russia was a tinder box, and the spark that set it aflame was soon to be lit: the Bloody Sunday massacre in January 1905, when workers humbly petitioning the Czar to alleviate their appalling conditions were slaughtered in their hundreds by the Little Father’s Cossacks.

Have we become "Leninists"? - part 2

In the first part of this article, we answered the accusation that we have become “Leninists”, and that we have changed position on the organisational question. We have shown not only that “Leninism” is opposed to our political principles, but also that it aims to destroy the historic unity of the workers’ movement. In particular, it rejects the struggle of the marxist lefts first within, then outside, the 2nd and 3rd Internationals by setting Lenin against Rosa Luxemburg, Pannekoek, etc. “Leninism” is the negation of the communist militant Lenin. It is the expression of the Stalinist counter-revolution of the early 1920s.

Have we become "Leninists"? - part 1

Ever since the end of the 1960s and the formation of the groups which were to create the ICC in 1975, we have been subjected to a dual criticism. For some - generally the various organisations that go under the name of “International Communist Party”, directly descended from the Italian Left - we are idealists on the question of class consciousness and organisational anarchists. For others - usually from anarchism or the councilist current which reject, or at least under-estimate the need for political organisation and a communist party - we are supposed to be “partyists” and “Leninists”. The former base their assertions on our rejection of the “classical” position of the workers’ movement on the seizure of power by the communist party during the dictatorship of the proletariat, and our non-monolithic view of the functioning of a political organisation. The latter reject our rigorous conception of the revolutionary militant, and our constant efforts to build a united, centralised international organisation.


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