We've seen in our text on the struggles revival in this issue what are the analysis and the orientations of intervention the IBRP and the bordiguist groups - at least some, amongt them the main one, the ICP-Il Comunista-Le Prolétaire - have defended in the last struggles. We kept silent about the ICC intervention and analysis because to linger over, to enter into the details of the contradictory positions and into their deplorable political consecuencies, in the framework of that text would have diverted the readers' attention from what we think essential in the present situation : the affirmation of the international revival of the struggles and the political questions that this new situation raises for the working class and its communist minorities. It is already a sign of the deep tendencies which go through the proletarian camp. The ICC isn't any longer at the center, at the political center, of the political questions and contradictory debates within this milieu. Dealing with its position is a separate question and fits in an other dynamic than the political confrontation with the other groups. Before, the analysis and the intervention of the ICC always found themselves at the center of the "debate" on the course of the struggles since it was oftenly the first to recognize the existence and the renewal of the struggles and the first to raise the questions of orientation and intervention. Today, its intervention is marginal and is the laughing stock of most people : workers when they see it, revolutionaries when they attempt to read it. Unfortunately, its last publications which take position on the struggles make it even more ridiculous and place it outside and against the whole proletarian camp.
Before, in the years 1970, 1980, and even 1990 (December 1995), the analysis and the intervention of the ICC whether one did or didn't agreed with them, were clear, comprehensible, oftenly distinct, and affirmed with strength. Everybody knew what was its position and its intervention. Today, it's very difficult to know what is its analysis on the present workers struggles.Since it seems to be as much responses, different, as territorial publications of this organization. Actually, we better wonder what are the analysis and the orientations of the ICC. Here is an organization whose pride, rightly, was to be able to speak with one voice and which knew, well before the computer and Internet, mobilize and difuse in 24 hours the same leaflet, the same statement, to defend the same analysis and the same orientation in more than ten countries on three continents and in different languages. Today, each territorial section seems to be left to itself and to ignore superbly what the others say and defend. And above all, to ignore what is written in the main publication, the International Review, the one whose function is to put forwards the most clearly posible the main orientations for the whole press of the ICC, its sections, its militants, simpathizers, readers...
Since December 2003, in only just two months, the publications of the North-American, English, Italian, German, Spanish and French (they are available on Internet), and the International Review 116 of the first quarter 2004 have been published. All these publications - may be except Internationalism - have been written after the strikes in Great Britain and during, or after, the Italian struggles. What is the ICC position on the workers struggles revival ? What does it say ? Never in all the ICC history such an heterogeneousness, such different orientations, and even partly opposed, had appeared ! In two years of seizure of the ICC, the liquidationists have succeeded to liquidate also this asset and this political, organizational and militant experience, so eliminating three decades of organizational struggle.
The International Review 116, amongst the last publications published, does say nothing on the workers struggles. Not a word. Its editorial, without date, is centered and focuses on... Saddam Hussein's arrest (1) ! Révolution internationale 343, February 2004, doesn't say a word either. Nothing on the strikes in Great Britain. Nothing on the strikes in Italy. How is it posible ? The french militants would try to believe, and try to make believe around them, they weren't wrong on the analysis of the workers struggles course today since they don't say a word. To be taken aback ! The sumary of Acción proletaria 174 of January don't have but just one article related to the situation of the working class, A new avalanche of massive redundancies, which isn't available on Internet which already shows that this question isn't considered as a priority and that, obviously as seems to tell the title, doesn't speak about the workers struggles in Italy and in Great Britain. The sumary of Weltrevolution 122 of February looks to have - we don't read German - only one article on this matter taken back from World Revolution 269 : Turning point in the international class struggle. We get back to this article in the following.
We can say that these publications, whose two first are mainly realized in Paris, are the expression and the concretisation of the ruling tendency within the ICC today, the one of the hard core of the liquidationist faction. Since the beginning of the ICC crisis, this familial clique has shown an incredible, amazing, stunning ability to ignore and, when it was posible, to distort reality. When the latest doesn't please, it does'nt exist, or it's distorted, or even an other one, untrue, is invented. It partly belongs to mental disease, but let's leave them the psychological ground whose they're the champions, and let's stay on the political terrain. The reasoning seems to be the following : since the International Review and RI - the two main publications of the ICC which have always served as reference and orientation for all the ICC press, should we recall it ? - don't touch the workers struggles and even less an international revival, consequently they don't exist. It's exactly the same "method" they used, and carry on using, in the internal organizational crisis of the ICC.
For us, it's clear : the work of political and militant destruction of the ICC tradition continues to mainly focuse to its historical center, Paris. They've to deconsider the publications which are realized there and to demoralize the section and the militants responsible of these publications. Once Paris destroyed - and it comes with our fraction even though it's "formally" excluded -, the ICC will be finished and its militants dispersed, demoralized, confused, and lost for good. But this work can't be done in one day above all as long as our fraction carries on existing and struggling as internal fraction, it means with a political and organizational alternative within the framework of the ICC principles.
There is another tendency within the Current, not cristallized, nor affirmed, but nevertheless real which still keeps some political reflexes of the former ICC - unfortunately, it's more by inertia than by militant willingness. Then, it finds itself obliged to try to reconcile (characteristical behaviour of political centrism) its reflexes with the new politic and the new "orientations", in particular those, revisionists (see our bulletin 21), drawned at the March 2003 international congress. The Resolution on the international situation which has been adopted then, prevent, forbid, to acknowledge in a consistent, political and militant way, the international revival of the workers fight. This heterogeneousness of the ICC press says a lot on its internal reality : each section is left to itself and the liquidationist faction carries on worrying firstly of its seizure on the parisian center of the ICC which "controls" the whole organization, and of its personal fight against the "parasitism". But the "centrist" tendency which tends to acknowledge the struggle revival, isn't less dangerous because it can delude the simpathizers, the superficial readers, and even members, which is what the mystical and sectarian militantism, the "integral militantism" (2), of the liquidationists don't get to do any more. And on the other part, it blocks any posible attempt - even though this posibility looks to be very weak, it questions some militants - to affirm internally a resistance, a questionning - we don't even talk of an alternative analysis and orientation - to the defeatist line of the liquidationist in relation to the workers struggles.
Confronted "directly" to the oubreak of workers struggles, the British, North-American and Italian sections dedicate an important part of their publication and mention, carefully, very carefully, a posible international revival of the workers struggles.
WR of November writes in Turning point in the international class struggle that "after 14 years with no large-scale mobilisations (...), these recent struggles are the expression of a change in the social situation" and it even defends in a leaflet on the postmen strike, November 1st 2003, that "the current unofficial strike of around 25,000 workers in the post office in the UK is the latest expression of this world-wide revival of struggles". Internationalism 128, the North-American publication, in Workers' Strikes in the US dated November 25, speaks too of "a turn in class struggle" and says "the struggles that have emerged around this issue are particularly important because they have begun to raise fundamental issues" (we underline). Rivoluzione internazionale, in an article of December 7th on the city transport strike in Italy, Solidarity with the tramway workers, evokes "a revival which begins to be seen almost everywhere in the world" ["Una ripresa che comincia a intravedersi un po’ dappertutto nel mondo"]. Finally, WR 270 of December runs on "the revival of class struggle and the dangers of radical unionism". And all this while the main ICC publication, its international central one, the International Review which is supposed to give the analysis and the general orientation for the whole ICC, its militants and for the whole working class, published after the strikes in Great Britain and in Italy, after the publication of those territorial publications, doesn't say a word !
Unfortunately, the affirmations on the struggle revival are quickly tempered, shaded, in such a manner that it's difficult to know what is the true concrete perspective, and even less what intervention the ICC defends in the present situation and in the immediate struggles. Since it's difficult to consider that "the development of the class identity" can be an effective slogan for confronting the bourgeoisie - "to regain its class identity" is the new formula of the ICC of the liquidationists, we'll deal with it in the following, to conceal that it had became unable to present neither immediat and concret orientations in the struggles, nor more general orientations, but nevertheless as concrete, in the general situation of international revival. The result ? The close reader doesn't understand any more and the more superficial one takes what is convenient for him. But the contradictions, between publications and articles, and within the articles themselves, are tremendous.
Internationalism defends correctly that "these struggles are in stark contrast to other strikes in the 1990s" and that "the strikes we have seen in October are not union manoeuvres but a genuine manifestation of growing working class combativeness". After having underlined that the American workers who have gone on struggle, have done it rejecting the agreements signed by the unions, it means against the unions position, Internationalism points out in an obvious reference to the international struggles - on which is based all the article -, that "powerless to prevent these outbreaks of workers combativeness, the unions role internationally and in the US has been to sabotage these struggles as much as possible".
The text of WR, already quoted, says exactly the opposite. "On the immediate level the struggles of this year are not that different from those in other periods of struggle since 1989". Who should we believe ? Internationalism ? World Revolution ? The International Review ? Three publications, three different positions. Let's try Rivoluzione : "the uneasiness [our dictionary translates disagio by uneasiness which seems surprising for us] of Monday December 1st is even welcome if it represents the beginning of a revival of the workers struggles" (3). It's an other position, isn't it ? A 4th ! More centrist than this last one, you're dead. Revival or not revival ? This tipical reasoning of centrism leads to the following questionning : if the Italian struggles are the beginning of the revival, then they're welcome. But what if they're not the beginning of the revival ? Are they out of place, it means to be rejected ?
It would make laugh if it didn't have so negative consecuencies for the ICC intervention and finally catastrophic ones for this organization and its militants. The North-American comrades are unable to provide any orientation in the situation. They're obliged to go no further than generalities, or rather banalities, whose interest for the development of the struggles and the workers consciouness won't escape nobody : "the intervention of revolutionaries in these struggles must on the one hand be aimed at exposing the unions' role in sabotaging and isolating the struggles, and on the other hand at helping the class to regain its self identity as a class [!], and its understanding of active solidarity in struggle". Nevertheless the article gives all the elements to advance orientations of concrete intervention adapted to the immediate situation : "despite the fact that in each case, the workers rejected the austerity contract agreed to by the union (...), rather than take the struggle into their own hands, the workers permitted the same union leadership that had been content to sell them out, to lead the strike and continue negotiations" (we underline). Yes, comrades of Internationalism, here was the fight, here were the orientations to provide in the recent struggles. And it is through the political fight for "taking the struggle into their own hands", that the workers are led to dispute to the unions the control and the leadership of the struggles, it means to assume concretly the political fight against the unions and unionism. The fact this question is posed, but not "overcome", isn' t the expression that the revival doesn't exist "yet", or that it's weak, or even then it has to be shaded, contrary to the reserves expressed by Internationalism - the ICC has always known and defended that the class struggle was confronted to and will always be confronted to obstacles, in particular the union question, until the revolution. But it's precisely the expression that the revival does exist. Otherwise the question of "taking into their own hands" won't be raised.
Unfortunately, the Italian comrades of the ICC, even though they wrote beginning of December, December 7th, at the beginning of the movement, don't provide any concrete orientation, nor general. They stress on the necesary solidarity between the youngs and the olds - explanation for the not well informed : the ICC has yet developed another theoretical advance on the division between the young generation of workers and the old one as a product of the decomposition and, thus, as a supposed obstacle to the working class unity. And they defend that "today the working class must confront again the true face of the unions to begin to questionning them, to begin to look for its autonomy for its struggles". We've just underlined the passages which are in contradictions with the reality and which show how the ICC of today is prisoner of ready made and abstract schemas : weren't already the wildcat strikes of the tramway workers the expression of a new confrontation with the true face of the unions ? Weren't they yet the expression of the beginning of their questionning and their looking for autonomy ? It isn't the first time the ICC tries to make us wait for tomorrow a struggle which is already developing in front of our very eyes. It's exactly what it said in regards to Argentina and France.
Is it necesary to underline the huge contrast between the intervention of the ICC section in Italy and the Battaglia Comunista one ? The first one, at best and being kind, calls the workers to realize precisely what they've already realized ! The second calls and pushes the workers to realize what they haven't still realized.
We finally want to end off with the intervention of the ICC-World Revolution in the postmen strike which is a caricature of the contradictions in which the liquidationist faction has driven the whole ICC today. Here are the stupidities that the ICC is led to express - sure, we'll be forgiven for adding a few comentaries.
"The current unofficial strike of around 25,000 workers in the post office in the UK is the latest expression of this world-wide revival of struggles. And there is ample evidence that the ruling class has deliberately provoked the postal workers, with the aim of crushing them and so 'setting an example' to other sectors of the working class" (WR 269, the leaflet on the post office strike).
First absurdity : the bourgeoisie provokes a fraction of the working class into a struggle which is, at the same time, "the latest expression of this world-wide revival of struggles". Does it mean the bourgeoisie is pushing to the "world-wide revival of struggles" ?
After having showed that the workers went on strike in active solidarity, it means when the management was carrying them the overwork that their comrades had refused to do and for what they've been suspended, WR warns us that "this is part of a conscious strategy of provocation [of the Royal Mail management and of the government] (...). Faced with a rising tide of working class anger, and a slow but real development of class consciousness, they hope that by taking on and defeating the postal workers they will be able to nip this renewal of class struggle in the bud" (we underline).
Has the british ruling class, well known for being one of the most "intelligent" bourgeoisie of the world, become stupid ? Faced with a threat of fire - "a rising tide of working class anger" -, has it added fuel to the flames by provoking the struggle ? And has it pushed to the expression of workers solidarity, active and militant - and not the one the ICC had greeted after the attacks on New-York while crying miserably about "our deads" (see Révolution internationale 316, October 2001) - with a class content, of the workers ? Here, is the result of being prisoner of past schemas, in this case of the December 95 french strikes, and to feel obliged to set the events into the framework of the last Resolution on the international situation (15th congress of the ICC) whose content is openly revisionist (see our criticism in the bulletin 21). Here, is the result of the internal "discussions" of the ICC after the May-June 2003 french strikes and after the position adopted then. It isn't the english ruling class which became stupid, but the english section of the ICC. Carrying the incoherency up to the end, here is how follows the text on the basis of the provocation analysis :
"What the ruling class wants is not to liquidate the CWU [the post office union], but to increase its control over the workforce - to make postal workers give up their bad habits and keep to the union rule book. What it wants is for the CWU to ensure that there are no more wildcats - only symbolic, ineffective official strikes. No more direct and immediate appeals for solidarity, only paralysing union ballots and cooling-off periods".
Let's sum up : the bourgeoisie has built up a provocation in order to avoid wildcat and solidarity strikes and to ensure the control and the credibility of the unions. And for that purpose, it has provoked a wildcat and solidarity strike which has weaken the unions. Who can understand ? But within the ridiculous logic of the present ICC, it would rather strongly applaud the postmen struggle which has so brillantly thwarted the manouver and it should draw particularly optimist lessons for the evolution of the workers consciousness and for the degree reached by the workers struggles which go much beyond the return of the class identity.
How could they write such idiocy ? How could the ICC militants read that without realizing what was written ? We already questionned on this phenomenon - we have a political response - on other occasion. Isn't what had occurred for the famous Resolution of the international situation adopted by the 15th congress ? Whether the militants don't read any more, whether they don't think any more.
Obviously, this brillant analysis might have provoked some internal questionnings which WR tries to answer to in its following issue, the 270, with an article, The revival of class struggle and the dangers of radical unionism. "At first sight it may seem insane [the writer of this text can't stop a laugh while copying this passage] for the government and employers to provoke wildcat strikes at a time when we are seeing a new development of militancy, but they have a clear strategy (...). The ruling class is provoking workers to struggle to teach the whole class a lesson" (we underline). We can say today this has been particularly successful as proves it the beginning of the strike amongst the firemen who refered explicitly to the postmen (see our text on the international revival of the struggles in this issue).
In these conditions, with this vision, what could be the ICC intervention in the british postmen's strike ? After the call for "that workers in the post and elsewhere must draw from this is not that they should rally to defend the union", that "they should instead defend everything that expresses their independence and their ability to organise themselves [what does it mean, above all in the middle of a struggle, the "defence of their ability to organise themselves" ?], WR calls for that "mass meetings must be real centres of discussion and decision-making, not answerable to any union apparatus. Delegations to other workers, or to negotiate with the bosses, must be directly controlled by the mass meetings" (Postal workers’ strike: Against the attacks of capitalism, the only answer is class solidarity, WR 269). Formally, this orientation appears to be correct at the general level. And it implies to precisely take up again the slogan of take in their own hands which had been already posed in the strikes in France, and after in Italy, and to "decline" it in relation with the local situations and with the particular moments. This slogan, let's recall it, and under the condition it corresponds to the potentialities of the moment, inevitably contains the political confrontation with the bourgeoisie and the unions. But concretly, WR couldn't adapt, "decline", that general orientation to the concrete situations and moments of this mobilisation into immediate and feasible slogans since the presupposition, the "analysis", of the movement was that it was a provocation whose goal was to inflict a defeat to the whole working class. And, other dimension, how the militants could mobilize with conviction and enthusiasm in front of such a contradiction ?
It's precisely in there that lies the danger of centrism on this matter. Contrary to the declared opportunism of the liquidationists of the International Review and Révolution internationale who openly spits out its contempt, its "indifferentism" and its defeatism in regards to the workers struggle, centrism formally claims its recognition of the struggles revival and formally advances orientations and slogans which can be correct in themselves, but which are empty of their real content. "We must liberate the class essence of the thing from its equivocal soviet form" says Trotski in his History of the Rusian Revolution (www.marxism.org, chap. 36, The bolsheviks and the soviets) warning against a formal understanding of the form of organization. "We must liberate the class essence of the thing from its equivocal [self-organization] form". The orientation provided by the WR centrists, empty of its class content, transforms itself in the concrete, in the daily struggles, and if there is an intervention of course, and will inevitably transform itself into a defence of the organization of the struggles, of the "self-organization", conceived and defended in itself, as an absolute garanty for the development of the struggles. "The fetishism of organizational forms-strange as it may seem at a first glance-is an especially common disease among revolutionary circles" (idem). We get back to this question in this bulletin with the preceding text The question of the organization form [not translated into english, at least for the moment]
Finally, let's go back to the new recipe of the ICC : the support the revolutionaries should give today "at helping the class to regain its self identity as a class" (Internationalism 128). It's one of the orientations the American comrades give to the present struggles in the article quoted above. What does this mean ? Here is how the text - of reference ? Of orientation ? - published in WR 269 on the Turning point in the international class struggle explains us what meaning have that slogan : "Central to this perspective [of development of the workers struggles towards the decisive classes confrontations] will be the ability of the proletariat to regain and strengthen its class identity. By «class identity» we mean the understanding of being part of a class, one with common interests to defend". This orientation is stupid like were the "great theoretical advances" that the liquidationism honoured us on The Confidence, on The Solidarity and on The Revolutionary Indignation and which have already fallen into oblivion. It's empty of any sense in the concrete situation. Here is the ICC calling the workers to "regain their class identity", it means to become conscious they are part of a same class, "one with common interests to defend", as a precondition, as a condition for the development of the workers struggle - "this sense of class will be the basis for eventually taking struggles onto another level through their extension and self-organisation" -... at the very moment when thousands of workers are in struggle and are defending common and unitarian demands. Indeed, the ICC isn't any more at the vanguard of the workers struggle but, in the best case as for Internationalism or World Revolution, at the backside of the struggles and of the workers dynamic.
In brief, the ICC opportunist drift carries on deepening and spreading, like a true cancer, to the whole body and the whole functions of our organization. The international resumption of the struggles, it's also one of its "worth", comes to reveal and to speed up even more this process.
Finally, and we hope the reader will forgive us to come back on it through this message directed to the liquidationist faction. Following the Paris Public Meeting of June about the May-June 2003 strikes in France, we had pointed out in our bulletin 19 the aberrations and the contradictory and opposed interventions of the ICC militants on the analysis of that struggle. It was intolerable for the liquidationists. That is the real "political" reason for our banning of attending these meetings in which we were already banned of speaking. While we're now stressing even more the contradictions and the real political oppositions of the present ICC, are they going to ban us for reading the press ? And how are they going to do ? This would explain why the militants now refuse to sell it to us when we meet them, or why they refuse to honour our subscription to Revolución Mundial, the mexican publication, keeping so the money with the pretext we would be so-called thiefs.
Even in its more miserable aspects, inevitably, inescapably, as we already said in May 2001, their policy turns against the ICC at all level.
February 2nd, 2004.
1. See our statement on this publication in this issue.
2. On the "integral militantism", see our bulletins, in particular in n°16 our Activities Report of the fraction of the ICC congress and n°11 Explanation elements of the ICC crisis (both articles aren't available in english).
3. "Il disagio di lunedi 1 dicembre è addirittura benvenuto se esso rappresenta l'inizio di una ripresa delle lotte operaie". We hope we've well translated.
Communist Bulletin 23 – Internal Fraction of the ICC