Criticism to the article 'India and Pakistan : Capitalism's lethal folly'
(International Review #110)

Our criticism to the present theoretical political developments of the ICC focuses on two aspects :
1 – The speculative and idealist method which is gaining more and more ground in the analysis ;
2 – The results drawn from this analysis which tend always more openly toward opportunist positions.

These two aspects can be seen now, not only in the internal documents but as well in the public statements of the ICC as it is the case with the article on the conflict between India and Pakistan in the International Review #110.
We must notice however that, as well as concerning the method than concerning the analysis, it still exists a kind of "mixture" with the method and the positions that the ICC defended before. A struggle between two methods and two positions. We can see that the new "tendency" in the analysis is gaining more and more ground, so that the revolutionary nature is more and more hollow, just sentences without substance (we need the international revolution of the working class to avoid the apocalypse), while the "fondamental", concrete, position makes more and more concessions to the ruling ideology.
This mixture is the basis on which the present majority of the ICC can assert that the positions of the ICC have not change ; and it is also the basis of the difficulty to make the criticism, because we constantly have to show the coexistence of the two positions and to show that it is a tendency within the analysis.
In such a situation, the conditions for a more open and more radical change of positions in the ICC are created ; a change that could occur with an event of historical importance in front of which the organisation will find itself completely desarmed on the theoretical point of view.

The speculative and idealist method of the present ICC
The speculative method appears explicitly, even if not in a « pure » way, at the beginning of this article :

"On the face of it, these two widely separated and geo-politically totally distinct events have nothing in common. To understand their shared root causes, we must avoid taking a fragmented, photographic view of the world and analysing each event separately, in itself. Only marxism's global, historical and dialectical approach is capable of drawing together these two different expressions of capitalism's mechanisms to give them unity and coherence, integrating both into a common framework.
The threat of nuclear war between India and Pakistan on the one hand, and the rise of the far right on the other, are both part of the same reality. They are both expressions of the impasse that the capitalist mode of production has reached. They demonstrate that capitalism has no future to offer humanity, and, in different forms, they illustrate the present phase of capitalism's decomposition: a social rot that menaces society's very existence"
(International Review #110, page 1).

On the one hand, the article calls not to consider these events in a static way "as a photography", but "historically, dialectically, in a dinamic way and in their various relations". This is the aspect that reflects a marxist effort of analysis. However, in the same paragraph, one can already found the opposite method since, when it comes down to it, the point is about "integrating both [events] into a common framework". That is to say to take them only as a "demonstration", an "illustration" or a "form" of this common framework, of this "same reality", of the "present phase of capitalism's decomposition".

That is to say that the point is not to analyse the history of the events' development – and their interrelations – to point their dynamic but, on the contrary, to start from a "framework" already defined, from a schema, so as to adapt all and each event in this framework or schema. In the first case, the theory is "adapted" to the historical development of the real facts, in the second one the real facts are "carved" to correspond to the theory already elaborated once and for all. It is the same criticism that we had made on the speculative method (see the Bulletin of the Fraction #3 : on the new conceptions of militantism in the ICC, "The speculative method in the ICC", available on our french web pages, and our statements on the international situation, in the other bulletins).

And, once again, the speculation drives to general absolute truths that doesn't carry us closer to the explanation of things. The threat of nuclear war between India and Pakistan and the rise of the far right "are both part of the same reality. They are both expressions of the impasse that the capitalist mode of production has reached". That, of course, cannot be denied. And, moreover, these events "illustrate the present phase of capitalism". Could it be differently ?
In that way, the articles establishes a relation between the events on a particulary general level ; the relation consists in the fact that they are both real, that they occur on the planet Earth at the same time and that they are both part of the present phase of capitalism... For that, no use of rigour is required for the analysis to draw the concrete relations and for the future one'll be allowed to say whatever he wants to adapt the events to the "framework".

Thus, the articles of the present ICC on the international situation tend to substitute to the concrete analysis of the crisis, of the class struggle, of the imperialist relations, the use without distinction of the "general determination" of the "decomposition" as an ideological justification for its drift...

The marxist method developped itself not only in opposition to the idealist speculation and to the "closed" philosophic systems, as we have already presented it (The speculative method of the ICC mentionned above), but in opposition as well to the tendency of the "social sciences" toward arbitrary generalisations as ideological justifications. Marx, for example, criticised the way that the economists, to justify the eternity of the specifically capitalist relations of production, draw the features common for the production of all the historic stages and set out "universal human laws". And Marx answered to that "there are characteristics which all stages of production have in common, and which are established as general ones by the mind; but the so-called general preconditions of all production are nothing more than these abstract moments with which no real historical stage of production can be grasped" (K.Marx, Manuscripts of 1857-1858 [«Grundisse»], Production, Consumption, Distribution, Exchange [Circulation], on the web site :

Are the great imperialist powers factors of peace?
"Since May, the threat of nuclear war has loomed over India and Pakistan. (...) This conflict between the two countries, (...) is not the first, and in particular not the first over Kashmir where previous fighting has already claimed hundreds of thousands of victims. However, the threat of nuclear conflict has never before been so serious. In an inferior position "Pakistan has already made it clear that, in the face of a superior enemy, it would be prepared to initiate a nuclear confrontation" (The Guardian, 23/5/02). On its side, India is deliberately pushing for a military confrontation with Pakistan. Pakistan aims to destabilise the situation in Kashmir in order to draw the latter into its camp thanks to the guerrilla actions of its infiltrated groups, while India has every interest in putting a stop to this process by direct confrontation.
The possibility of a catastrophe which would cause millions of deaths has indeed alarmed the ruling classes of the developed countries, especially the Americans and the British
. (...) the US has had to throw its full weight into the balance to lower the tension, with the despatch of Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to Karachi and Bush's personal intervention towards the Indian and Pakistani leaders"
(I.R. #110, page 1).

The point of view of the article is that of the existence of a "conflict between the two countries" which threats to come out onto a nuclear war and "the possibility of a catastrophe which would cause millions of deaths has indeed alarmed the ruling classes of the developed countries, especially the Americans and the British" and about which they do their best "to lower the tension". Things presented in that way, it seems that the emergence and the development of such a conflict could be on the fringe, that it would be independant of the great powers.
At first, concerning the method, it lets apart the assertion made above and according to which we must try to find "relations" between the different expressions of capitalism. Here, it's a question of the "conflict between two countries" and not a question of relations between all the countries, and specifically of the influence and of the intervention of the great powers in that present conflict. The great powers appear only afterwards, when the conflict is on his top and, moreover only with the good intention of "lower the tension".
Thus, politically there is at first a concession to the ruling ideology expressed through the medias which explain the situation in that way : as a threathening conflict between two irresponsible second rate countries in which the great powers intervene in order to lower the tension, to resolve the conflict ant to avoid a human catastrophe. Then, it's no longer the great powers who stir up the imperialist war but, on the contrary, they make their possible to avoid it.

It is true that, just after that, the article comes back on the history of that conflict and mentions the relation with the confrontation that took place between the américan and russian blocs (and especially how the great powers carried the atomic armament in the area). At that point our criticism can't content itself with showing the coexistence of two different perspectives : up to the fall of the imperialist blocs, the India- Pakistani conflict would have been determined by great powers ; now, it would be determined by the territorials disputes between India and Pakistan. Already there, we can notice the absurdity which consists in abstracting the imperialist relations, the action of the great powers, in order to adapt the regional conflict with the "framework of the decomposition". But, it's actually what the article tries to demonstrate : that in the present stage what is prevailing is the "every man for himself" [the english press of the ICC uses "every man for himself". For our part we could translate into english the french expression "chacun pour soi" by "each one for its own" but we do trust the english language comrades of the ICC and will take up their expression], that the great powers don't "control" any longer the local conflicts and that, for this reason, the world goes to chaos. It's the reason why the criticism has to focus on the question of the "every man for himself". And actually, India gives us some elements of reflexion.

"There is no doubt that the Great Powers, with the US at their head, are indeed extremely alarmed at the possibility of nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan, though not for any humanitarian reasons, far from it (Let's notice, by passing, that the article have to deny the humanitarianism of the bourgeoisie because, a few lines above, it lets see that, actually, the bourgeoisie of the developped countries was concerned by the death of millions of people, resulting of a nuclear war). They are concerned above all to prevent the development of a new escalation in the «every man for himself» which has dominated the planet since the collapse of the Eastern bloc and the disappearance of its Western rival. During the Cold War that followed World War II, inter-state rivalries were controlled by the discipline imposed by the two blocs. Even a country like India, which tried to go it alone and benefit from Eastern military power and Western technology, did not have its hands free to impose its domination over South-East Asia. Today, States give free rein to their ambitions" (idem p. 2).

We have here a new slide toward opportunism (the first one was to say that, while the second order powers tend toward the war, the great powers on the contrary try "to lower the tension", that is the seed for supporting one of them : the more "rational", the one standing for "peace and stability", even if we cannot develop that point already). This second slide consists in thinking that the politics of the great powers is not determined by their imperialist thirst but by their concerning of avoiding that the "every man for himself" got worse.

Is the "every man for himself" specific to the phase of decomposition ?
But the more interesting from the historical analysis' point of view is that the article recognises implicitly (not clearly because it uses, according to the cases, differents terms to refer to the same phenomenon) that the "every man for himself" is not a specific caracteristic of the period of decomposition but existed long before and that it coexists with the tendency to form alliances and blocs. There is countries like India which, during the period of the blocs, tried to "go their own way". As the article says, they "tried to go it alone" (even if the ICC doesn't talk of the "every man for himself"). It's the same for other countries like China. These "lonely knigth" tried to constitute their own bloc to fall, at last and necessarly, on the side of one of the two already existing blocs leaded by the two super powers of that times. Thus what the case of India demonstrates is :
First that the "every man for himself" existed before the phase of decomposition (it's not specific to it) and that it's just an additional aspect of the imperialist interplay ;
Second, that the "every man for himself" doesn't deny the tendency toward blocs but that the two phenomenons are just moments of the same dynamic in the imperialist relations that draws to war(1).

The article of the International Review #110 disregards the question of the intervention "from inside" in the conflict and of the influence of the great powers which continues to exist despite the disparition of the blocs. It completely disregards as well the fact that each country, big or little, by playing its own card has no issue but to look for the support and the alliance with other countries – especially "the greatest ones" – either for geostrategical reasons (for exemple, to match with neighbouring countries to avoid being attacked from behind), or for economical-political reasons (the necessity of supplying with raw material or armaments), or for political reasons (to have the agreement of the godfather for one's own imperialist adventures), ...
All the recent events are explained as a "conflict" or an "antagonism between the two countries" provoked not by the intervention of the great powers, and first of all the United States, but by the difficulties or the impossibility for those powers to intervene and control these countries :

"An indication of the intensity of the antagonism between these two second-rate powers can be found in the difficulty that the US is having in imposing its authority"
(I.R. #110, p.2).

And, once again, we must notice the slope on which that position drives : to justify the intervention of the great powers "to lower the tensions", to "avoid the nuclear war", "to maintain the order in front of the chaos", "to avoid millions of death", etc.
The Fraction, on the contrary, has to remind that, with the end of the blocs, the ICC began to talk about the "every man for himself" as a tendency that emerged in front of this end and that it analysed it in link with a counter-tendency : the tendency toward the formation of a new interplay of imperialits blocs. It constantly made an "evaluation" of the relation between that two tendencies.

The contradiction between two positions inside the ICC
In fact, if we come back on the evolution of the analysis of the international situation since the fall of the Eastern bloc as it has been analysed by the ICC in its publications (especially in the International Review) we find a constant swinging between two positions :
The first one considers that the reconstitution of a new imperialist blocs relation is made impossible by the chaos and the social decomposition. In that scenario, capitalism would go toward the destruction of humanity through all the phenomenons of the decomposition. Included a string of regional wars out of any control. But the perspective of a new world war is rubbed out because the new blocs can't constitute themselves ;
"The aggravation of the economical crisis necesarly leads to the sharpening of the imperialist rivalries between the States. In that sense, the development and the exacerbation of the military confrontations between the latter are down in the present situation. On the other hand, the reconstitution of an economical, political and military structure gathering these different States supposes the existence of a discipline from their part and within them, which the phenomenon of the decomposition will make more and more problematical. That's the reason why this phenomenon (...), while preventing the reconstitution of a new system of blocs, can perfectly lead not only to the putting off (as it is the case now), but to the definitive disparition of any world war perspectives" (International Review #62, 1990, The decomposition, final phase of capitalist decadence, thesis 10, translated today by us for the french version).
The second one, on the contrary, considers constantly the development of the imperialist conflicts as a tendency toward the polarization and recognises in it the permanence of a tendency toward the creation of new blocs : "The aggravation of the world crisis (...) will necesarly provoke a new exacerbation of the internal contradictions of the bourgeois class. These contradictions (...) will reveal at the war antagonism level (...). What does change from the previous period, is that these military antagonisms don't take now the form of a confrontation between two great imperialist blocs (...). the disappearance of the two imperialist constellations (...) entails the tendency to the reconstitution of two new blocs : one bloc dominated by the United-States and the other dominated by a new leader, role for which Germany (...) would be the best capable. But such a perspective is not today on the agenda (...)" (International Review #63, 1990, Resolution on the international situation adopted in June 1990, point 5 and 6, also translated into english by us).

That means that, at the beginning, the analysis considered the existence of these two tendencies as 'opened' perspectives that only the very development of the events could settle. However, in the present ICC, in the "new" ICC, the vision according to which these two tendencies expel each other, the vision that vanishes by magic, on the altar of the schema, the second tendency toward the reconstitution of blocs, that vision is now prevailing.
Behind that novelty is hiding the development of an opportunist position. This one is breaking into, little by little. At first, we considered that the "natural" or "historical" tendency was toward the formation of new blocs (we even had discussions on the "candidates" for leading them ; especially on the potential of an alliance between Germany and some other great powers as a mean to confront the US super-power). Afterwards, that concern was given up and began to develop the idea that the tendency toward the "every man for himself" was beginning to prevail on the tendency toward the alliances and blocs, postponing the formation of blocs to a doubtful and nebulous futur in which the basic positions of the ICC are lost more and more. At last, only the "every man for himself" has remained up to the point reached today in the article of the International Review in which it seems that the tendency (previously considered as "natural" and "obliged") toward the formation of alliances and a new relation of blocs between the great powers no longer exists :

"Whether it be Great Powers like Germany, France or Britain, or regional powers such as Russia, China, India or Pakistan, all are being pushed to tear each other apart in ever more destructive struggles. The present conflict between India and Pakistan, like that in Afghanistan, is a flagrant demonstration.
In this situation of general chaos and "every man for himself", provoked first and foremost by the growing tensions between the Great Powers themselves, the latter's hypocrisy has been striking"
(I.R. #110, on the conflict India-Pakistan, page 2).

There is, here, a changing of position, even if at first sight it looks the same as the ICC is saying since a while.
It charges the great powers of provoking the "chaos and the every man for himself". But let's notice that : to avoid falling in a contradiction with what was said above about the US trying "to lower the tension", it names Germany, France, Britain, Russia, China and even India and Pakistan as responsible. But not the USA ! The USA look like the only power standing against the chaos and the "every man for himself". We must keep up in mind this premise to make the link with what comes at the end of the article. The novelty is now that the tendency toward the formation of alliances and to create new blocs has disappeared too from the politics of the main imperialist powers. Now, these powers launch in the whirl of chaos and every man for himself. Thus, we are moving toward a vision which considers that the different bouregoisies – even the great powers' ones – launch more and more in irrational and insane adventures, without any objective, without any alliance, without weighing up the consequences ... and in which the only counter tendency, in front of this insanity and irrationality, is ... the US bourgeoisie.

But, it's not yet over with the "responsability of the bourgeoisie of the developped countries".

"Expressing the alarm of the "civilised" ruling classes at the prospect of nuclear war, their media point the finger of blame at the irresponsibility of the Pakistani president Musharaf and the Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee,(...)
This is really the pot calling the kettle black ! What of the "responsibility" of the Great Powers ? They are indeed responsible : responsible for the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II ; responsible for the mind-boggling proliferation of nuclear weapons during the Cold War ; responsible for this accumulation under the pretext that "dissuasion" and the "balance of terror" (sic!) were the best guarantee for world peace. And it is still the developed countries which hold the most enormous stocks of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons !"
(I.R. #110).

And nothing else ! The article reminds that the "great powers" (wasn't it rather and firstly the USA ?) used the atomic weapons and that these powers, during the cold war period, carried the proliferation and the accumulation of atomic weapons (shouldn't we say that the imperialist politics of the great powers allowed or drived directly the minor powers to arm themselves to the teeth with all kind of arms – atomic, biological or conventional - ?). And let's recall too that these great powers hold "till now" the biggest stocks of armaments. Nevertheless, the article stops here without trying to go further on what is the present responsability of the great powers bourgeoisie in the present conflict between India and Pakistan. As if this responsibility doesn't exist.
As the article establishes a priori that the question is of "every man for himself", then it's just a matter of "a conflict between two uncontrolable countries" in which the great powers do not interfere (except for trying "to lower the tension"). If it was the contrary, it would not be a matter of every man for himself but of an other episode of the imperialist conflicts which could drive to a realignment of the countries into alliances and blocs ! It's the reason why the responsability of the great powers cannot be attributed to them but for their past actions (the second world war, the accumulation of armaments during the cold war). Therefore, the denunciation of these powers cannot be but from a moral point of view.

In the last part, the article comes back on the conflict "in itself" (the indian and pakistani ideological campaigns). From that point, it glides over the use of nationalism by the bourgeoisie in general, it returns to the way the bourgeoisies have stirred up there nationalist, racist, etc. campaigns during the past wars and periodes. Then it finished saying that :

"since 1989 the "humanitarian" leaders of the great powers have manipulated and stirred up the growth of the ethnic cleansing, religious and racial hatred that has penetrated so many areas of the planet in a cycle of wars and massacres"
(I.R. #110, p.3).

Once again, the langage seems to be the same as the one the ICC used previously. But it tends now to a changing of position. The powers have not provoked the ethnic cleansings. They just "stirred up (their) growth". They "have stirred up the hates that drive to wars" but have not triggered these wars. Instead of revealing the imperialist interests, not only of the minor countries but of the great powers too, wich stand behind those "ethnic cleansings" and "racial hates", the article just carries a moral condemnation for having "allowed and stirred up" these wars.

And the proletariat ?
'At the local level in South-East Asia, the working class has not proved itself sufficiently combative to stop a war. Internationally, the working class finds itself impotent in the face of a capitalism that is tearing itself apart, threatening us with massive death and destruction over a whole region of the planet.' (Idem). Recently, the to-day's ICC had already told us that the working class had nothing to do in Argentina.

What is the natural, logical conclusion that follows the whole argumentation of the article of the International Review ?
That exists a risk of nuclear war between two second order countries, India and Pakistan who have decided "to go their own way".
That the working class is today impotent on the local level as well as on the international one.
That only the great powers, and first of all the US, make efforts, even if not enough, "to lower the tension" and to avoid the war.

Then, all that on a natural, logical way, opens the door for – when the opportunity'll present – the call to the bourgeoisie of the great powers that, instead of "allowing" and "stirring up" the hates and the massacres, it acts resolutly "to lower the tension" and to stop the chaos...
The sentence that ends the article is nothing but a vine leaft to mask the dangerous slope on wich the ICC engages itself today.

"Nonetheless, the only historic force capable of stopping the destructive juggernaut of decomposing capitalism remains the international proletariat, above all in the heartlands of capitalism. Through the development of its struggles to defend its own interests it could show the workers on the sub-continent that there is a class alternative to nationalism, religious and ethnic hatred. This places a huge responsibility on the working class of the metropolitan heartlands. It has to see that while it must defend its interests as a class, it also has the future of humanity in its hands" (Idem).

It's the same trick we had already denounced in our article on the international situation (see our Bulletins #9 and #11). Once the article declares that today the proletariat is impotent and that the only social force doing something today to stop the nuclear war is the bourgeoisie of the developped countries, then it ends with the "consolation" according to wich, "historically", the proletariat is still the only force able to react, that it has a very heavy responsability, etc....There is not any concrete appeal, neither to the class, nor to the revolutionaries. That reminds us the nice resolutions of the Second International on the eve of the war.

September 02

(1) We said already in the bulletin #9 of our Fraction that "there has been in the ICC a reversal of meaning (...) (which we weren't clearly conscious of). While the phenomenons of "every man for himself" are only the expression of the lack of the blocs at a given moment, [the new orientation] made it a cause and even THE cause ! In fact, the concept of «disappearance of the blocs» on the one hand, and the «every man for himself» on the other hand, used to caracterize the 1990's on the other hand, don't refer but to the same objective reality : the noting that every imperialist power, great or small, plays its own cards (...). When (...) the fall of the stalinist empire took place, we were right to say that this one was going to bring about the break-up of the western bloc and to renew the whole conflicts which divided already the various imperialist States (...). But we were also right then to say that it was in the development of these conflicts, «free» of the old structures [the two former imperialist blocs], that will develop the process - belonging to the war nature of the decadent capitalism - towards new imperialist alliances and towards a new bipolarisation of the world (...)' (First statement of the international situation resolution.... chapter 2, point 1, only in french and spanish language on our web site.