In April the ICC's section in France held its 16th Congress. This Congress was a very important one for our whole international organisation. Two years ago, the 15th Congress of RI was transformed into an Extraordinary Conference of the ICC owing to the fact that our organisation had gone through the most serious crisis in its history, with the constitution of a parasitic group in its own ranks. This group, which called itself the 'Internal Fraction of the ICC', was formed on the basis of secret meetings held behind the organisation's back and was devoted to destroying the ICC's unitary and centralised principles of functioning.
This Extraordinary Conference allowed all the militants to measure the gravity of the destructive activities carried out by this 'Internal Fraction', in particular the circulation of rumours that the central organs of the ICC were being manipulated by a cop; the theft of money belonging to the ICC and of internal documents susceptible to falling into the hands of the police (especially the addresses of our militants and subscribers). But what really convinced comrades who had doubts about the disturbing and destructive character of the 'IFICC' was its act of kidnapping two delegates of our Mexican section at Roissy airport. Although these delegates had joined the 'Fraction', they had agreed to participate in the Extraordinary Conference in order to defend their disagreements. Even though their trip had been paid for by the ICC, these two delegates were picked up at the airport by two members of the IFICC who prevented them from taking part in our Conference. The IFICC refused to reimburse the ICC for the cost of the two plane tickets. This behaviour, worthy of petty gangsters, as well as the circulation of slanders throughout the ICC with the aim of sowing mistrust and confusion, fully justified the RI Congress being transformed into an Extraordinary Conference whose principal objective was to save the ICC and its organisational principles.
Two years later, the first job of the section in France, on the occasion of its 16th Congress, was to draw up a balance sheet of this organisational struggle. The re-establishment of confidence and solidarity within the organisation
Like all RI Congresses, this one had an international character because all the sections of the ICC were represented there. The section in France, supported by all the international delegations, drew up a very positive balance sheet of its activity over the past two years.
Despite the attacks it has been subjected to by the IFICC, which have obliged the ICC as a whole to mobilise itself for the defence of its main section, RI has been able to carry on its activity within the working class. It has succeeded in closing ranks in the battle against the parasitic manoeuvres of the IFICC, publicly denouncing it for behaving like a bunch of informers (see the article 'The police-like methods of the IFICC' in WR 262). This battle could only be waged thanks to the re-establishment of confidence and solidarity within the organisation, based on a collective re-appropriation of the principles of the workers' movement.
The Congress highlighted the fact that the section in France is today more united and solid than ever. In the last two years it has been tested in its ability to defend the organisational principles of the ICC, especially the principle of centralisation, and it has passed this test.
The RI Congress also drew a positive balance sheet of the work of its new central organ; the preparatory texts for the Congress were proof that it has lived up to its responsibilities.
Today the ICC's largest section has totally rid itself of clans and of divisions based on a purely sentimental loyalty to this or that individual.
Thus the activities resolution adopted by the Congress affirmed that:
"The section in France has emerged strengthened by this crisis, which has enabled it to rediscover the spirit of fraternity and to understand in depth how denigration and slander can poison the organisation's tissue�Divergences and disagreements can be expressed in a climate of mutual confidence without leading to personal attacks and conflicts (point 3) �Centralisation is the organised expression of the unity of the organisation. In this sense, it is tightly bound up with solidarity and confidence, which are the two basic principles of the class which is the bearer of communism�It is equally thanks to the strengthening of centralisation at all levels (international, territorial, local) that the section has been able to mobilise itself to support and defend the Northern Section of RI against the IFICC's attempted encirclement; this has been a definite factor in making confidence and solidarity between comrades a living reality�.This ability of the section to strengthen its centralisation in order to develop solidarity in its own ranks and to respond as a unit to the IFICC (especially by banning informers from coming to our public meetings) has also helped to strengthen our contacts' confidence in the ICC. Far from sowing distrust, doubt and suspicion, this centralised policy of defence of the organisation and of the proletarian political milieu has on the contrary strengthened the credibility of the ICC. Our ability to show clearly what confidence and solidarity in our own ranks really mean has allowed our contacts to assimilate more deeply the elementary principles of the revolutionary class. This is proved today by the fact that a number of sympathisers have become closer and more loyal to the organisation, some of them expressing a desire to join it".
In this context of reinforcing the unity of the organisation, of re-establishing the confidence and solidarity which have to link the militants of a communist organisation, the section in France has been able to integrate new comrades into the organisation and live up to its responsibilities towards new elements coming towards the ICC or asking to join it.
The turning point in the dynamic of the class struggle
While the Extraordinary Conference held two years ago was entirely polarised around the question of the defence of the organisation against the threat posed by the activities of the IFICC, the 16th Congress of RI was able to return to analysing the evolution of the international situation, with the aim of drawing out perspectives for the activities not only of the section in France but of the whole ICC.
Reports had been prepared and discussed in all the sections on the three basic aspects of the international situation: the economic crisis of capitalism, imperialist conflicts and the class struggle. However, the Congress made the decision to concentrate on the latter point, given that the two other aspects had been amply discussed at the last International Congress, and that the preparatory discussions for the Congress had not raised any major new issues. This was not however the case with the evolution of the class struggle. In particular, the Congress ratified the view, adopted by the ICC's central organ last autumn (see the report in International Review 117), that over the past year we have seen a turning point in the class struggle, the most obvious expression of which were the strikes in the spring of 2003 in France against the attack on pensions. The debates at the Congress were particularly rich and animated. They enabled the organisation to go more deeply into the connection between militancy and class consciousness. In particular, the section in France and all the international delegations took a clear position on the need to throw off the schemas of the past in order to understand the real dynamic of the balance of forces between the classes. The Congress thus arrived at a homogeneous recognition that while the current struggles have not in themselves been at the same level as the massive attacks launched by the bourgeoisie through the dismantling of the welfare state, they contain a very significant potential at the level of in-depth reflection about the historic bankruptcy of capitalism and the necessity to build another kind of society. It is precisely this potential, the result of the objective impasse reached by the capitalist system (simultaneous aggravation of the crisis and of military barbarism), which explains why the bourgeoisie, in order to undermine the stirrings of consciousness within the proletariat, is today obliged to get ahead of the game by putting forward a false alternative: the mystification of 'alternative worldism' (not only in France but internationally).
In this sense, the debates which animated the 16th Congress allowed our organisation to grasp what's at stake in this turning point in the class struggle. Although the revival of class militancy has not yet led to the proletariat rediscovering its class identity and regaining its self-confidence, the fundamental questions being raised today (where is society going? What future can this system offer our children? Is another world possible? etc) are harbingers of a much deeper development of class consciousness than was posed in the waves of struggles in the 70s and 80s.
In particular, the Congress clearly showed that the emergence of minorities (often breaking from leftism and anarchism) who are searching for class positions in all countries, and who are making contact with the ICC in order to participate actively in the struggle of the revolutionary organisations, is an especially eloquent illustration of this maturation of consciousness within the working class.
The Congress agreed that one of the organisation's main priorities is to adapt its intervention in line with this analysis of a turning point in the class struggle. In fact it has already begun to do so, for example through the determined intervention against 'alternative worldist' ideology at the most recent carnivals of the bourgeoisie (the European Social forum in France and the World Social Forum in Mumbai, etc). Within the struggles themselves, the task that the ICC has to carry out can't be limited to an immediatist intervention, which brings the risk of falling into workerism and playing the game of the leftists; its major aim is to help develop the reflection taking place within the class, pushing workers to become aware that the present system has nothing to offer humanity expect growing barbarism.
It is with this historical, long-term vision that revolutionaries must examine the changes in the balance of class forces. This requires patience because it is evident that the struggles which the working class has been engaged in since the spring of 2003 (in France, Britain, Austria, etc) are mere skirmishes when you consider the scale of the attacks being launched - and yet they are still important signs of this shift in the general dynamic of the class struggle.
The work of the 16th Congress, the richness of the debates which took place, and in particular the fact that all the militants were able to express themselves in a climate of confidence, including comrades who have only recently joined the ICC, all testify to the vitality of our organisation and the redressing of our section in France. The discussions on the international situation showed a will to go deeply into the historical method which revolutionaries have to use when they examine the class struggle. The Congress was thus able to draw out clear orientations for activity in the current period. The turning point in the class struggle "demands that revolutionaries are at their posts in order to be an active factor in the development of workers' struggles and in stimulating the reflection and evolution of young elements looking for a class perspective. This is a heavy responsibility, but being aware of this is no reason for folding our arms. On the contrary it must be a permanent stimulus for our activity. It must strengthen the conviction and determination of the militants to continue the combat (including the struggle against the slanders of parasitism)�Today what Marx wrote 150 years is as valid as ever: 'I have always noted that well-tempered natures, once they have embarked upon the revolutionary path, constantly draw new strength from defeat and become more and more resolute as the flow of history takes them further forward' (Letter to Philip Becker)", Activities Resolution point 14.