We've read with great interest Rivoluzione Internazionale 136 of June 2004. In particular, two articles called our attention : "Melfi : the union sabotages the struggle willingness of the workers" and "Italian mission in Iraq : Right and Left united in the defence of the italian imperialist interests" (1). These two articles, as well as your statements in other issues of your publication, lead us to ask you a certain number of questions regarding your political orientations. We hope you'll understand that our intervention wants to be fraternal and militant. It should go without saying but, given the sulphurous reputations ones made us, it's goes better saying it.
Dear comrades, here is what you write regarding the strike at the FIAT factory of the city of Melfi : "Some months after the tramway struggle [it means the city transport struggle of last winter, see our bulletin 23 and the Battaglia Comunista issues of January, February and March 2004], this new center of struggle [the strike at Melfi FIAT factory] comes to confirm a tendency towards the revival of the class struggle which begins to worry the bourgeoisie". We underline in bold
Even though it's not the matter of this letter, you'll understand that it's not indifferent for us to notice that we share the same position of this struggle revival. "For us, all these elements state clearly that the working class is engaged in a new dynamic of a struggles revival and that it is leaving the period of retreat which it knows since nearly 15 years" (bulletin 19, Communique on the social struggles in France, June 2003, in english on our web site). "The present dynamic is to the workers struggles revival" (bulletin 23, February 2004, also available in english). This tendency towards an international revival of the struggles is by the way more or less shared by the IBRP and some of the bordiguist groups.
What position has adopted the ICC on this matter ? It talks (belately and reluctantly) "of a turning point in the class struggle, in which we can see developping the conditions which will enable the proletariat to regain and strenghten its class identity, its feeling of belonging to a class with common interests to defend" (quoted by Révolution internationale 345 of April 2004 from World Revolution 271, translated by us since this article isn't available on the ICC english web pages). You can already pick out with us nuances in the valuation of the dynamic ; at least through the use of the future, "will enable to regain", whereas you use the present and through the presentation of a more than general, abstract to tell the truth, orientation, "regaining its class identity", whereas the orientations you give are much more concrete and "realizable".
Dear comrades, maybe do you think that "Revival" and "Turning Point" express the same thing. Let's concede you it could be so. But it remains to verify it. Let's look together what content our organization gives to the word "Turning Point". What is its concrete understanding by the today ICC ? Rather than having a look to a particular article which can suffer a drift, or a personal vision of the writer, let's get back to the report on the classes struggle which has been adopted last Fall - unanimously adopted as underlines it the article about the 16th congress of the section in France (RI 347 of June 2004, or WR 276) :
" 2003 merely marks the beginning of the end of a phase of reflux within the continuity of a course towards massive class confrontations (...).In this sense, the recent mobilisations by no means signify a spectacular immediate alteration of the situation (...).The metal workers strike in eastern Germany was not at all an expression of immediate workers militancy, but a trap laid (...).In other central countries of the class struggle such as Italy, Britain, Spain or the Benelux countries there have as yet been no recent, more massive mobilisations. (...).Therefore, both internationally and within each country, the level of militancy is still embryonic and very heterogeneous. Its most important manifestation to date – that of the teachers in France – was first and foremost the result of a provocation by the bourgeoisie (...)" (International Review 117, April 2004, we underline in bold)
You'll concede us that there is, for the least, some "nuances" between the vision on the revival of the classes struggle which appears in your articles and the one of the central position of the ICC about the "Turning Point". And you couldn't miss noticing the reserves and the obvious lack of enthusiasm from the - parisian ? - ICC in front of the first manifestations of workers revival up to the point it lasted several months to mention them. Up to the point the french reader still doesn't know anything about the "wildcat" strike of the Bristish Post Office workers of October 2003 and that he has barely heard about the last winter struggles in Italy.
Dear comrades of RZIZ, how do you characterized, for your part, the "tendency towards the revival of the class struggle" ? You claim it "begins to worry the bourgeoisie". Again, you'll concede us that there is a different insistance with the one of the adopted report which focuses on the maneuvers, the traps and the provocations set up by the bourgeoisie. Let's see with you the content you put in this claiming.
"To avoid that could repeat the situation of the tramway workers, and that the workers go out on strike by themselves, with no respect for the rules and the arbitration committee ["compatibilitá" in italian], this time the unions quickly took the lead by imposing their leadership to the struggle in order to drive it towards impasse and to be able to end it without too much difficulties" (RZIZ 136, underlined by us). We have no doubt about your evaluation of the struggle in the FIAT factory of Melfi. But, while underlining the action of the unions to "avoid that could repeat the situation of the tramway workers", you implicitly underline all the strength and all the potentialities of the last winter strikes of "the tramway workers" - these very ones that the translation into french of your article by RI had precisely erased and eliminated as we pointed it out in our bulletin 24.
You rightly carry on by denouncing the division of work between the "moderate" unions and the "hard" ones ; the "formal radicalization of the struggle (...) easing the isolation of the Melfi workers" ; the use of the "rank and file" that makes believe that "the struggle is in the hands of the rank and file" ; the set up of a Day of Action of "solidarity" by the unions in stead of the "going on struggle by the other sectors of workers on the basis of the consciouness that the struggle is one struggle and that only fighting united, we can establish a relation of forces more favourable".
It's quite right and we want to underline that, through your denounciation of the unions tactic and their concrete actions, you also put forwards here again the immediate potentialities, the "going on struggle by the other sectors of workers", which existed too in this strike. It means the immediate stakes which were posed. And thus, one can draw the slogans which go with them. The fact the unions finally succeeded to sabotage the strike, doesn't change anything to the stakes and to the potentialities of this strike.
Comrades, two things appear with the reading of these passages :
- we notice that, globally, you have the same analisis than the comrades of the IBRP on the recent workers struggles, indeed as the bordiguist groups even though we (the ICC's) can find inadequacies in the latest ; and you try, quite correctly, to take back the experience - and not the schemas - of the ICC of the... years 1980. By the way, it's precisely what enables you to grasp the dynamic and the significance of these struggles despite the official positions of the present ICC ;
- and above all, we notice that the content you put to what you call yourselves the "tendency towards the revival of the class struggle which begins to worry the bourgeoisie" (2) has nothing to do with the content of the today ICC sees in its "Turning Point". Here is what says the report already quoted just after its warnings against the traps and provocations of the bourgeoisie in Germany and in France :
"It is important to note that the class as a whole (including the searching groups, much of the proletarian milieu – essentially the groups of the communist left – and even many of our sympathisers) has proven enormously gullible in face of the large scale manoeuvres of the bourgeoisie". [it's worth noting that the english version doesn't repeat the whole quotation of the french version which also speaks of "blindness" after having accusing everybody of being "gullible"]. So everybody except the present ICC has been blind and gullible. Comrades of Rivoluzione, should we rank you too in this category ? As all the other ICC members who expressed "doubts" on this question ? Finally, only a small family coterie and its close followers would have the gift to... see (3). The text continues in the immediate following sentence like this : "For the moment, the ruling class is not only well able to contain and isolate the first manifestations of workers unrest, it can also, with more or less success (more in Germany, less in France) use this still relatively weak will to struggle against the long term development of general militancy". It's worth to recall here that, in "coherency" with this "analisis" of the provocation and of the reversing [as says the french version] of the "will to struggle" against the working class, the ICC called the workers to stop the strike and to come back to work since May 22nd - by the way without having called them beforehand to strike - in the spring 2003 movement in France.
Certainly this report has been written before the winter 2003-2004 strikes in Great-Britain (the "wildcat" strike of the Post Office workers) and in Italy. But the presentation of the report when it's published in April 2004 could have "integrated" and "qualified" these "negative" valuations afterwards on the basis of what had happened this winter and that you've related. Nothing such at all. The ICC maintains its "analisis", its schema, and it still reaffirms them today. Here is the last french "production" on this subject : "Thus in December 1995, in Spring 2003 and still today [June-July 2004], we can see this same general schema (...). This kind of manoeuvers where the bourgeoisie still needs only to keep going a sporadic and limited union unrest to make pass its attacks, yet constitutes a fearsome poison for the future. It's revealing the obstacles that the proletarians will find on their difficult path to the reconquest of their class identity" (Révolution Internationale 348, July 2004, translated by us).
Dear comrades of Rivoluzione, you'll concede us that you don't put today into the "Turning Point" the same thing, the same political content, the same characteristics, the same perspectives, potentialities, stakes, nor thus the same orientations of struggle and tactical slogans than the International Review and Révolution Internationale...
Acknowledge with us that you have difficulties to content yourselves with the "reconquest of the class identity" as a perspective of struggle. And confess, even if it means you'll be rapped over the knuckles for "organizational undiscipline", that you've given up attempting to traduce it into slogans for the immediate struggles, whether in Milano and in the city transportation or in the FIAT Melfi.
The ICC report on the class struggle of October 2003 and the balance-sheet of the 16th congress of RI call to "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" (WR 276, RI 347).
For your part, you conclude your article on the FIAT strike basing and recalling the experience of the years 1980 : "Just in the turning point in the workers struggle, the consciouness of the true nature of the unions which had already led the workers in the years 1980's to look for organize autonomously (see the base committees in the school [the COBAS] in 1987), must come back (4). Other important lesson in this moment when the class shows a renewal of its militancy, is that the willingness to struggle isn't enough as aren't enough the decisions and the formal radicalism of the struggle forms : the true strength of the struggle is in its autonomous drive by the class (...) and in the searching for unity with the other sectors (...)".
Isn't this precisely what the present ICC calls the "schemas of the past", is it ? Accept to verify this with us, without polemic, but fraternally, for political clarification. What political content is there behind the expression "to throw off the schemas of the past" used by the new ICC ?
What does say the October report on the classes struggle ?
"Although today, the bourgeoisie has virtually no difficulty in the execution of its large-scale manoeuvres against the working class [here it speaks about the present, of what is occurring today according to the ICC, it means it refers to the traps and provocations set up against the working class as during the French Spring 2003], the deteriorating economic situation will tend to cause increasingly frequent, though sporadic, spontaneous and isolated, confrontations between the workers and the unions [it's precisely what had happened in Great-Britain with the postmen and firemen and in Italy and what the ICC refuses to acknowledge and that it sets... in the future]. The return to a classic schema of confrontation with union sabotage [exactly what Rivoluzione stresses on] is henceforth on the agenda, and will make it easier for workers to refer to the lessons of the past [actually we could be in agreement in itself with this general statement if... it wasn't concretly and at once refuted by the sentence which immediatly follows]. But this should not lead us to a schematic application of the framework of the 1980s to the struggles and our intervention today" [Crash ! Everything collapses. The previous statement is liquidated by this last one (5) and implies the rejection of all the past experience. Actually, it allows to justify "theoretically" and afterwards the defeatist behaviour of scab adopted during the Spring 2003 strikes in France].
This open rejection of the experience of the ICC of the years 1980 is still reaffirmed further in the report in a clearer, more definite, absolute, total, radical manner : "The central questions of today – what is the workers’ struggle, what are its goals and methods, who are its opponents, what are the obstacles it must overcome? – appear to be the antithesis of the 1980s" (underlined in bold by us).
Dear comrades of Rivoluzione, obviously, there is an important problem of analisis, of position and above all of method between the revisionnist statements today "majoritarian" within the ICC and your statements - we would qualify them as centrist since they look for remaining faithful to the past ICC's ones... without openly assuming, it seems, the political confrontation within the organization. The quoted report which can superficially appear as a compromise between two opposed tendencies, speaks of "antithesis" between what you defend, the lessons of the 1980's experiences, and what the liquidationnist ICC defends, the explicit rejection, publicly claimed, of these lessons and these experiences. We're sure you will understand that this liquidation undertaking doesn't surprise us since we announced it three years ago. But it remains very dramatic. And these disagreements aren't limited to the single class struggle question. They affect too the question of war and imperialist linings up.
The article Right and Left united for the defence of the italian imperialist interests presents the same kind of contradictions than your articles on the workers struggles, with the general orientations of the "central" press of the ICC. It also tries to remain on the marxist ground, of the classical positions of the workers movement : no trace of "chaos" and of "each one for himself", no trace of the impossibility of generalized war, no opportunist openings up to the rejection of the historical alternative "war or revolution".
"This Left can't denounce the war in Iraq since it is itself acting for the Italian imperialism to impose itself in the international scene. What distinguishes it from the Right, is the alliances and the banner with which it wants to make these aims advance : the United States for Berlusconi and its allies, the UN or even better the European Union for Bertinotti and Cie (...). It's sure that they won't get up to say that the Italian soldiers are in Iraq (as in Afghanistan, in Kosovo, etc) for the defence of the Italian imperialist interests, for avoiding this one is kept away of the world sharing in spheres of influence, and for the defence of the immediate economical interests".
Comrades of Rivoluzione, go to the end of your statement as you (we) learnt it within the ICC. What does determine the distinction between the imperialist choices of the Italian Right and Left, if not an imperialist bipolarization between the United States for one side and an opposed pole emerging openly at least since the Iraq war, pole whose axis is constituted by Germany and its present alliance with France. According to you, and rightly, the participation to the division in spheres of influence is the "strategic basis for a possible generalized war and for the defence of the immediate economical interests". Acknowledge too that the phenomenon of bipolarization that you mention for the Italian bourgeoisie in its imperialist linings up choices, and which affects the whole national European bourgeoisies and even, at different levels, the world national bourgeoisies, is the condition sine qua non and a moment of the preparation for, one of the first moments of the tendency towards, this generalized imperialist war... that you refer to and continue to consider as the bourgeoisie outcome to the historical crisis of capitalisme.
Comrades of Rivoluzione, but then quid of the Resolution on the international situation of the 15th congress of the ICC ? Quid of the new position adopted unanimously according to which "the new period opens the way to a third possibility : the destruction of humanity not through an apocalyptic war, but through a gradual advance of the decomposition which could at term undermine the capacity of the proletariat to respond as a class" (International Review 113) ?
Weren't you counted in the unanimous votes ? Were you absent ? Or haven't you vote according to your deep convictions ? Or then the articles which are mentionned and quoted here don't reflect your opinion ? Or even worst, have you voted against your opinion ? A "facade" vote ? Superficial ? In order "they" lay off you and you don't have to suffer criticisms on your weakenesses in regards to "clanism" and to "parasitism", nor to assume a political struggle ?
What ever is the answer to these questions, there is a problem. A problem in regards to your attitude within the ICC, in regards to your militant responsabilities within the ICC. A problem in regards to the 16th RI congress claimings about the unanimous vote, about the "very positive balance-sheet", about the regained unity and centralization, about the political strengthening. And a problem as well serious about... the "confidence and solidarity" nevertheless "regained" between the militants, of which we are garanteed in the balance-sheet of the 16th congress of RI (see RI 347-WR 276)... Would it be chattings up ? What confidence and what solidarity are we told about ? Of the confidence and solidarity of the communist and militant organizations which invite, push, even "oblige" the militants to express their political disagreements... in full confidence ? Without distrust ? Or those of the sects where one hides his "deviant" thoughts for fear of suffering personal and psychological accusations ? Should we trust on parole, on its words, by Confidence, the present ICC, its central organs when they talk of "regained unity and confidence" ? Or should we verify again and again its words and its triumphant assertions ? But then what a pain - isn't it, comrades of Rivoluzione ? - is this verification which immediatly comes to contradict - it is enough to read the publications of the ICC itself - the great and dithyrambic official rantings.
Comrades of Rivoluzione, the reading of your two articles, in the midst of the stupidities of all kinds that the political revisionism and the present, absolute and idealist vision of the decomposition impose to the greatest number of the today ICC publications and texts - have you known Revolución Mundial [Mexican publication of the ICC] had eliminated peripherical countries as Haiti of the process of the international revolution ? - is a relief, a hope and... an anxiety.
A relief and a hope, we say, because you're the proof that still exist a life and proletarian, communist and even marxist reflexes within our organization. No doubt that if you're one of the most regular, open and public expression of it, you're not but the visible part of the iceberg. Besides its principles, its program and its political positions that our fraction has taken over and saved from liquidation, there is still today forces and comrades to save within the ICC. The "internal" fight thus isn't over, nor lost. You're a patent proof of it.
An anxiety because will you have the strength, the courage, the belief and the determination for defending openly your positions within the ICC while you know what you'll be confronted with ? How can't we have doubts on the disposal of the liquidationnist faction to accept a "debate" and an open, frontal - position against position - and fraternal political confrontation of the disagreements ? Without going up to refer to our own expulsion, the balance-sheet of the 16th congress is ominous since it brags and insists to satiety on the unanimous votes and on the regained political unity and centralization... whereas the ICC press of the last times has never been so heterogeneous and contradictory. Rivoluzione is the last example of this. You're not but one expression of this.
How not having doubts regarding the disposal of the liquidationists to confront the political questions when their only response to our denounciation of the giving up of the historical perspective "war or revolution" by the 15th international congress, is that we have no right to express such a criticism since we have in the past adopted reports introducing this opportunist vision ? It means that, having voted something before, it would be impossible afterwards to go back over and to discuss its validity ? What a vision of the organization and of the political debate ! And, above all, what warning and what threat to the ICC militants who would be tempted to raise political question within the organization !
Nevertheless it's to this political struggle within the ICC we call you. Present and defend your positions openly within our organization. Let there be an open debate on these questions. Let it be public and in front of the whole proletarian camp and the working class. Let this same proletarian camp be called to participate to it. The political questions you defend in your two articles and which the 16th congress of RI already announced the liquidation, must be debated and clarified in front of the working class. Or if this debate lacks, the ICC will inescapably get out still more impoverished politically and even more moribund at the militant level. You owe this debate to the proletariat. Only the petit-bourgeoisie and opportunism are afraid of the open debate says and doesn't stop repeating Lenin.
Contrary to what can make think the internal situation of the ICC today, contrary to what the liquidationism tries to make believe, the militant of the ICC aren't alone, nor surrounded by an hostile world, it means by a proletarian camp as an ennemy. The conditions for such a struggle within our organization are more favourable than two or three years ago. You're in advance secured of the active and fraternal political sympathy and support of the greatest part of the proletarian camp, groups and isolated militants, who now know and are alerted of the internal political situation of the ICC. The programatical and principle basis for such a struggle are already posed. The militant and material forces, as weak as they are, do exist. The alternative to the liquidationist politics - which isn't but organizational sectarianism, opportunist "regroupment" policy as was Lenin Promotion of the years 1920, dispersal of the militant forces, distrust and demoralization of the militants, liquidation of the principles and the theoretical and political lessons, defeatism in front of the workers struggles, concessions to the bourgeois ideology and campaigns for war - is reinforcing and developing in the proletarian camp. Isn't what is expressing still recently, and amongts other examples, the report of Battaglia Comunista of June 2004 about the regroupment perspectives in Germany ?
Dear comrades of Rivoluzione, it's up to you ! Be consequent with what you write. Impose the open and public debate against the liquidation of the positions and experience of our organization. Don't take refuge again behind the "formal unity" which is at best superficial, and at worse fallacious. Its political unity, the one which really counts, the one which can really establish the greatest possible organizational unity for the height of the historical situations, has exploded since a long time.
Be consequent ! Be bold and dare ! Fight for saving the ICC !
The internal fraction of the ICC.
1. All the RZIZ quotations are translated into english by us.
2. We're sure that you speak of an "international revival" because we can't imagine that you could state about a struggles resumption only at the italian level, nor even that you could think it's only determined by the struggles in Italy as significant and as important they are.
3 But isn't exactly the new vision, individualist and elitist, of the ICC which has been adopted at the 14th international congress of May 2001 with the famous report of the "Investigation Commission", which is expressing here in a particularly caricatural way ?
4. We've difficulties to translate exactly this part. Here is the original version : "Poco alla volta nella lotta dei lavatori,che già durante gli anni ottanta aveva spinto i lavatori a cercare di organizzarsi in maniera autonoma (...)". We hope we didn't betray the political meaning of the text.
5. By the way, let's notice that this justification came afterwards, after the french strikes of Spring 2003. It is after the demobilization and the desertion of the struggle by the great majority of the sections and militants of RI who, for their most part, were not even on strike in their own work - of course we speak of those, workers, whose sectors were in struggle and who could be on strike. It is after their nearly absence of the demonstrations, assemblies and various delegations - except a few who called... to get back to work in the assemblies which they participated in (see RI 337, July 2003, and our bulletin 23). It is also after, and in reaction to, our opposed, active, militant and active factor, statements in the struggle (see our bulletin 19 and 20). It is above all after the positive echo from the proletarian camp in general, from the ICC sympathizers in particular and even, or worst, it depends, within the ICC itself, by our criticism of the RI defeatism and our recall of the ICC experience of the years 1980 (see bulletin 20, August 2003, not available in english), and not schemas. It is after all this that the rejection of the "schematic application of the framework of the 1980s to the struggles and our intervention today" (ICC October 2003 report on class struggle) had to be theorized and adopted. A last point in order to understand the extremely rapid and fatal mechanism of the opportunist dynamic of the present ICC : the liquidationist faction can't admit that "the self-declared fraction" that it desires so much the militants' destruction and disappearance, can express a correct position which it would have to follow and to take back. It has to find a different position in order to justify its struggle to the death against our fraction. If the notion of parasitism had any validity, the present ICC while it states "by principle" against what we say, is one caricatural example.
Bulletin 27 (english version) of the Internal Fraction of the International Communist Current