On Saturday 2nd October the International Bureau for the Revolutionary Party held a public meeting on the theme 'Why the war in Iraq?' The ICC welcomed this initiative by the IBRP, as it did with its public meetings in Berlin, an account of which can be seen on our website. However, this IBRP meeting in Paris had a peculiarity which distinguishes it from the ones in Germany: it was decided upon and organised on the suggestion and with the political and material support of a parasitic group which calls itself the 'Internal Fraction of the ICC'.
It's because of this peculiarity that, before giving an account of the debate between the ICC and the IBRP on the analysis of the war in Iraq, we are devoting the first part of this article to the question of the 'joint work' between the IBRP and the IFICC, which had already been announced in no. 27 of the IFICC's Bulletin ('Account of a discussion between the IBRP and the Fraction').
This question seems all the more important to deal with given the manner in which the IFICC presented this public meeting in its advertisement for it on its website:
"Since the beginning of the crisis that the ICC is currently going through, a crisis which led to our formation as an 'Internal Fraction' of this organisation, we have not stopped underlining a painful reality - the serious weakening of an important proletarian political pole, which has manifested itself in the Paris region by the fact that its so-called 'open' public meetings have been deserted or are forbidden to some people, and above all are not places for debate and the confrontation of points of view within the class.
We have also underlined that, given what's at stake in the present situation, the necessary strengthening and regroupment of revolutionary forces within the proletarian camp can only take place today around the only serious pole that exists: the IBRP
On our suggestion and with our political and material support, the IBRP will be holding a public meeting in Paris (a meeting which, we hope, will be merely the first) in which we call on all our readers to participate" (our emphasis)
We can see that in this advertisement, the IFICC did not judge it useful to write a single phrase of analysis or denunciation of the war in Iraq (unlike the leaflet published by the IBRP). This advert was dedicated to one question only: how to reconstruct in the French capital a pole of regroupment for revolutionaries following the collapse of the ICC. A collapse which has, according to the IFICC, been verified by the fact that its public meetings have been "deserted"" and no longer serve as a place of debate (which is a lie, as all the sympathisers who regularly come to our public meetings can attest - ten of them came to the IBRP meeting).
Is the IBRP the only "serious pole" of the proletarian political milieu"?
Apart from the delegation of the IBRP and four members of the IFICC (only the element Jonas was absent), the following were present at the meeting:
- two supporters of the IFICC (one an ex-member of the IFICC)
- an old hand of the anti-party councilist milieu whom we have known for over 30 years
Three other people breezed through the meeting but left without taking part in the debate.
Thus, this public meeting which was, according to the IFICC, supposed to prove that the IBRP is the "only serious pole" of discussions and reference of the communist left would have been a total fiasco if the ICC had not been present and had not invited its contacts to participate. There was a large delegation of ICC militants and ten sympathisers.
Thus despite the brilliant publicity put out by the IFICC about this meeting, it managed to demonstrate one thing: it has created a void around it. The ICC and its sympathisers made up two thirds of the participants and filled the room. This was so obvious that:
- before the presentation, a militant of the IBRP spoke to one of our comrades and asked "why have so many of you come" ()
- at the end of the meeting, the presidium felt obliged to pose the question: "finally, which comrades are not part of the ICC?" Apart from our sympathisers and the members of the IFICC, only three hands were raised.
The audience at this public meeting was the proof that the IFICC (and perhaps also the IBRP?) takes its desires for reality: the ICC is not yet dead and buried as a "serious pole" of the proletarian camp. It is precisely because its own meetings would be totally deserted that the IFICC does not organise its own public meetings and has no other policy than to feed parasitically off the meetings of the groups of the communist left!
But even more important is the question: why, despite the loud publicity done by the IFICC, was this public meeting, announced as such a scoop, boycotted by the readers of the IFICC Bulletin and by our subscribers?
It's precisely because the latter learned that this meeting of the IBRP had been organised on the "suggestion" and with the "political and material support" of a parasitic group whose main activity is to heap the worst kinds of insults on the ICC! Thus, one of our contacts told us that he would not be taking part at this meeting because he didn't want to "put his feet in the shit"!
The only elements that the IFICC could attract were its own supporters and experience has shown that there are not many of them.
If the IFICC had not yelled from the rooftops that it was with its "political and material support" that the IBRP was organising this public meeting, other searching elements (who are by no means all in agreement with our positions) would surely have come to take part in the debate.
It is a lesson that the IBRP should draw from this slap in the face: you can't be better served than by yourself. It has made an alliance with the IFICC, which has rained tons of slanders on the ICC, which has openly behaved like a group of informers, which has stolen the material and money of the ICC - and all this clearly has had the effect of repelling serious elements close to the communist left.
The IFICC's excess of zeal (as well its flattery towards the IBRP) has only served to make the IBRP look ridiculous.
What the IFICC has tried to show is that, without its help, an organisation of the communist left which has existed for several decades would have been incapable of taking the initiative of holding this public meeting!
It is regrettable that the IBRP didn't see the trap the IFICC was laying for it when, in its Bulletin no.27, this so-called 'Fraction' claimed that, on the question of building the party, "the Fraction defends positions which are more categorical than those of the IBRP". Which means that, by claiming to defend positions that are much more 'radical' than those of the IBRP, the IFICC is presenting itself as being to the left of the IBRP.
In reality, this parasitic grouplet has used the name of the IBRP to make its own publicity and to gain a certificate of respectability, while at the same time presenting the IBRP as being less advanced than the IFICC! This is what the IBRP has refused to admit (despite repeated warnings from us) before celebrating its nuptials with the IFICC. If it had taken the ICC seriously, it wouldn't have had to go through this experience to understand that every flatterer lives at the expense of those it flatters, as La Fontaine put it in his story.
How did the IBRP fall into the IFICC's trap?
By offering its "political and material support" in organising this meeting, the IFICC is clearly seeking to gain recognition as a group that belongs to the proletarian political milieu. Unfortunately the marriage between the IFICC and the IBRP can only have the effect of making the IBRP look ridiculous. It has helped to throw discredit on an organisation of the communist left which, up till now, has never infringed one of the basic principles of the workers' movement: the rejection of any practice of stealing the material of other communist organisations.
Thus, during the course of this public meeting, the ICC asked to be able to read out a letter which one of our subscribers has sent to the IBRP and has asked us to make public. This comrade (and he's not the only one) received in his name and at his personal address the IBRP leaflet about this meeting. He expressed to us his astonishment about this (again, like other ICC contacts who also received this document in the mail): how did the IBRP obtain his address when he had only given it to the ICC? Following this question posed by several of our contacts, the ICC decided, on the eve of this public meeting, to address a letter of protest to the IBRP (and we hope that this will not simply be ignored, as other letters have been in the past).
As soon as we raised the question of the theft of our list of addresses, the presidium initially tried to stop us speaking with the argument that the IBRP "does not want to take sides between the ICC and the IFICC" because this is an "internal" matter for our organisation. Then, following our protest, the presidium told us twice that the IBRP does not have RI's list of addresses and added: "even if had been offered to us, we would in any case have refused it". We then asked the comrades of the IBRP: "does that mean that you condemn the theft of this address list?" To this question the presidium refused to reply despite our insistence and declared that "we will clarify this between ourselves and the IFICC after the public meeting".
This incident demands several remarks:
- the IBRP takes us for idiots when it has the cheek to assert that it doesn't want to "take sides" in an "internal" affair of the ICC. When this first public meeting of the IBRP in Paris was organised with the "political and material support" of the IFICC, when we learn (in IFICC Bulletin no.27) that the IBRP and the IFICC have begun to "lay the ground for joint work", when the IBRP has for over seven years rejected any joint work with the ICC (on the fallacious pretext that our differences are too important), you would have to be blind and deaf not to see that the IBRP has openly taken the IFICC's side!
- As for the theft of the list of addresses that belongs to the ICC, the IBRP knows very well that this is not an "internal" question for our organisation: we have been denouncing this in our press for over two years now and so have clearly raised this issue in public.
- When the IBRP claims that even if the IFICC had offered it our list of addresses, it would "in any case have refused it", this means quite simply that it recognises and condemns the theft of the ICC's material. In this sense, if the IBRP wants to be coherent, it should draw the conclusions from this: it has laid down the bases for joint work with thugs.
- The IBRP declared that it was going to 'clarify' this affair with the IFICC after the meeting. For our part, we consider that this clarification should not remain an "internal affair" of the IBRP but should be made public since:
- it has been compromised in the theft of material that belongs to the ICC because this material was used to send out the IBRP's leaflet calling for the meeting;
- it has matters to settle with our subscribers who have asked the question: how did the IBRP leaflet arrive in their mailbox?
For our part, we can only take note of the declaration that the IBRP would have refused to accept the IFICC putting this 'war chest' stolen from the ICC into the wedding dowry.
It seems clear (and we believe the comrades of the IBRP when they tell us that they do not have a copy of our address list) that the members of the IFICC have acted behind the IBRP's back (as they did over and over again when these elements were members of the ICC, holding secret meetings with the aim of "destabilising" us ()).
We hope that the IBRP will be able to draw the lessons of this disastrous experience, which we vainly tried to spare it from with our repeated warnings. When you sleep with a woman of easy virtue (), you shouldn't be too surprised about picking up the clap.
The trade between the IBRP and the IFICC is on all evidence a dupes' market. By accepting this so-called Fraction's offers of service, by giving ground to its flatteries and taking its gross lies as the truth, the IBRP has taken the risk not only of losing all credibility but also its honour as a group of the communist left.
We invite the IBRP to take position on our 'Theses on parasitism' (International Review 94) in which we show that the main activity of parasitic groups is to discredit communist organisations. Using either slander or flattery, these political tics can only live by sucking the blood of the groups of the proletarian camp. It is now clear that the parasitic function of the IFICC goes well beyond the ICC. By using the IBRP for its own ends (as it did with Le Proletaire in 2002 ()), by throwing discredit on this group, this so-called 'Fraction' shows that it is not just a parasite on the ICC, but on the whole of the communist left.
If the IBRP wants to carry on with its joint work with the IFICC, if it wants to continue being the turkey in this farce, obviously we can't stop it. On the other hand, the ICC cannot accept that it uses (even indirectly, via its commerce with the IFICC) theft and slander against our organisation and our militants as part of its policy of regroupment.
Where is the IBRP's opportunism leading it?
The ICC has always stigmatised the opportunism of the IBRP, which has led it, since its foundation, to carry on a policy of regroupment lacking in principles. On numerous occasions, we have warned it against the danger of getting together with groups and elements of the extreme left of capital (such as the Iranian SUCM) or which have made an incomplete break with leftism (such as Los Angeles Workers Voice). Today, the opportunist collaboration of the IBRP with the IFICC reveals the danger that threatens this organisation of the communist left. By allowing itself to use the recruitment methods of the leftists (based not on open and loyal clarification of political divergences but on fishing for new members), the IBRP risks moving further and further away from the methods and traditions of the communist left and closer towards those of Trotskyism (). The IBRP thought it could use the IFICC as bait for catching big fish at this public meeting. Not only has it had to go home without any miracle catch, but it's lost some of its own feathers in the process.
What's most serious about all this is the fact that the opportunist approach of the IBRP has led it to give its approval to practises which are totally alien to the workers' movement, based as they are on theft and slander. If these methods are common coin among bourgeois groups, they have always been rejected and condemned by the organisations of the proletarian camp. ()
Opportunism is "the absence of any principle" (Rosa Luxemburg, Reform or Revolution). By making an alliance with individuals who use the methods of the bourgeoisie (the theft of material belonging to the ICC), the IBPR has totally lost sight of a principle which it was still able to defend when, after being the victim of a fraud perpetrated by a fictitious group in the Ukraine (whose aim was to extort money) it wrote: "When means and ends are separated... the road towards the counter-revolution is open" (IBRP Declaration on the 'Radical Communists of the Ukraine, 9/9/03).
In their combat for the overthrow of capitalism, revolutionaries have always rejected the Jesuitical morality of the bourgeoisie, according to which "the end justifies the means", countering this with a proletarian ethic in conformity with the essence of the class that is the bearer of communism (as Trotsky among others showed, in his pamphlet Their Morals and Ours). This is why revolutionary organisations must firmly reject any policy of regroupment that makes use of the theft of material belonging to other communist organisations.
This pitiful misadventure shows that the IPRB has indeed been taken hostage by a gang of thugs (and we have to ask how the IBRP is going to escape from this situation). We hope that this experience will at least oblige it to take off its dark glasses and finally understand the nature of this so-called 'Fraction'.
What determines the proletarian nature of a political group is not just the programme it defends or claims to defend. It is also its political behaviour, i.e. its practice and the principles it is based upon. This position of ours has nothing to do with 'psychology' (as the IFICC claims). And this is because as Marx says in his Theses on Feuerbach: "Man must prove the truth, i.e., the reality and power of his thinking, in practice.".
Faced with the dangerous attitude that the IBRP is adopting, it is the duty of communist militants to appeal to the sense of responsibility of the comrades of this organisation. They have to see what is really at stake here for the future of revolutionary organisations, to understand the consequences of any opportunist collaboration with parasitic groups, with adventurers, thugs or with phantom groups which only exist upon an Internet site.
In order to defend its principles the ICC will continue to close the door of its public meetings to parasites without any principle who have behaved like informers. But it does not see itself as the only pole of reference of the communist left; its public meetings are always open to the IBRP and we strongly encourage it to participate in them.
1. Furthermore, as we shall see in the second part of this article, the debate on the question of war did not take place around the analyses of the IBRP, but around those of the ICC.
2. According to the terms used by a member of the IFICC, Olivier, in one of these secret meetings (the notes of which we discovered by chance).
3. We admit that this comparison between the IFICC and 'women of easy virtue' is a bit of an insult to the latter.
5. As we already showed four years ago in our article 'The marxist and opportunist vision of the construction of the party' in International Review 103.
6. The methods of the IFICC, typical of those of gangsters, can be seen all the more clearly in the vocabulary it is now borrowing from the lumpen proletariat (see on its website 'No limits to ignomy!). Here we can find a veritable call for a pogrom against our comrades who are now called "salauds" (bastards). When the masks fall, this so-called Fraction shows its true face.