"A swift kick in the direction of the ICC", here is how the ICC article "Battaglia Comunista abandons the marxist concept of decadence", part 2 (International Review 120, 1st quarter 2005) presents the comparison we have made between the theory of the social decomposition of the present ICC and the Grossman's and others' theory of "capitalism automatic collapse". Something might have hit the present ICC !
Unfortunatly, the whole article (which focuses on the criticism against Battaglia Comunista, the Italian publication of the IBRP, and not only on the "flowery" passages devoted to our fraction) shows that the criticisms we made to the theory of the decomposition, in stead of helping the present ICC to think or at least to be more careful when it expresses, plunges it even more into the "collapse" positions we criticized. Moreover, the article "skilfully" avoids the central core of our criticism by launching itself into a polemic which only exists in its writer's mind according to which our fraction (or BC) would support the idea that the communist revolution is "ineluctable" (1) :
"Let us make it clear that at its 15th Congress the ICC did no more than reaffirm what marxism has always defended since the Communist Manifesto, i.e. that “a revolutionary re-constitution of society at large” (Marx) is not at all inevitable since, as he said, if the classes in struggle are unable to find the strength needed to cut through the socio-economic contradictions, society will sink into a phase of “the mutual ruin of the contending classes”. Marx did not defend a phantasmagoric “third way”: he was simply consistent with historical materialism which refutes the fatalist vision according to which social contradictions will be resolved automatically by the victory of one of the two classes in struggle. According to the IFICC, we refuse to recognise that “the historic impasse can only be momentary” (Bulletin n°26, ‘Comments…’). Indeed, with Marx, we refuse to recognise a merely “momentary” historical impasse; along with him, we think that a blockage in the relations of force between the classes can indeed lead “to the mutual ruin of the contending classes”. To paraphrase the IFICC, we throw the question back at them: the IFICC’s introduction of the idea that “the historic impasse can only be momentary”, is this or is it not a revision of marxism?" (2)
("Battaglia Comunista abandons the marxist concept of decadence", part 2, underlined in the original article, International Review 120, 1st quarter 2005).
One more time, let's see if we can precise the criticism we make to the theory of decomposition. During years, in various articles (and practically in all our theoretical articles on capitalism decadence), we have defended that the present historical alternative carries on being war or revolution. If we would think that revolution was "ineluctable" or "inevitable", then we would not even speak of an "alternative" ( 3).
What we criticize in the theory of decomposition of the present ICC isn't the idea that capitalism could drive the society to its destruction, but the notion that this destruction could be the product of a "third alternative" (notion the very ICC introduced) according to which capitalism would collapse without the intervention of the fundamental social classes, i.e. without classes struggle, without revolution or without generalized war. But only as the product and extension of... the "social Decomposition" : "the process of the destruction of humanity, under the effects of Decomposition [it means without classes struggle, note of our fraction], even though long and disguised, is irreversible" ("Understanding the decomposition of capitalism: Marxism at the roots of the concept of capitalism's decomposition", International Review 117, 2nd quarter 2004).
Such is the notion we compare to the theory of the "automatic collapse" since both concludes that the economical relations of production would in themselves lead to capitalism collapse. This is precisely what we reject as a-historical and antimarxist (and it's this that BC and the IBRP reject too). We denounce the fact that, with the introduction of a "third way", new position adopted at its 15th international congress (4), the ICC objectively gives up not only its own theory of capitalism decadence but also the very foundations of marxism.
This article of International Review 120 even takes a new step. It gives credit to the idea according to which capitalism, by itself, goes to its own collapse, its self-destruction, without any intervention of the antagonistic classes. To this end, it resorts to the tendencious utilization of Marx's, Engels', and others', quotations. If we believe the article, the theory of decomposition would already be formulated in the... 1847 Communist Manifesto !
What does say the Communist Manifesto ?
"The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles. (...) Oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes."
What does offer us the ICC from its part ?
"Today the proletariat faces the more long term, but in the end no less dangerous threat of a 'death by a thousand cuts', in which the working class is increasingly ground down by the whole process to the point where it has lost the ability to affirm itself as a class, while capitalism plunges from catastrophe to catastrophe" ("Understanding the decomposition of capitalism...", International Review 117).
Is not the radical difference between the two positions clear enough ? The Manifesto tells us that the motor of history is the classes struggle (which can lead to the revolutionary transformation or to the collapse to these classes in this struggle). The ICC of the liquidators, to the contrary, tells us that society can collapse because these classes lose their capacity to affirm themselves as such ! It means because they cease to act as classes, they cease to struggle ! The proletariat is crushed not by the bourgeoisie but by the "Decomposition". Capitalism collapses not through classes struggle but through the catastrophes of... "Decomposition". It means that now on "Decomposition" has become the motor of history. It's what says today the ICC after having underlined during decades the especially revolutionary nature of the proletariat in relation to the other classes of the past.
On the other part, despite the profusion of quotations, despite all the roundabouts around the subject, the article avoids to clearly state on the quotations and the nonsenses we underlined in our article about the theories of the collapse, between the statements of the today ICC according to which "Decomposition signifies a slow process of destruction of the productive forces up to the point at which communism would no longer be possible" (idem) and the fundamental contradiction of capitalism such as it has been expressed it in numerous occasions by Marx and Engels for whom "the capitalist mode of production involves a tendency towards absolute development of the productive forces" (Marx, The Capital, Volume 3, chapter 15, Conflict between expansion of production and production of surplus-value, marxist.org, we underline).
According to Marx, the tendency towards an unconditional development of the productive forces is in the very essence of capitalism. But, according to the ICC, capitalism has entered into a process of annihilation of the productive forces which leads to the destruction of the society. Then who is right ? In any case, the ICC is in front of a dilemma, in front of a real choice between two diametrally opposed positions to which it has to give a response. We wait for this response.
To conclude, let's see the "stunnning" question of the last part to the quotation we've reproduced above - "the IFICC’s introduction of the idea that “the historic impasse can only be momentary”, is this or is it not a revision of marxism?". The author of the article will have to forgive us if, in our turn, we turn him back his question. Because it's not our fraction which "has introduced the idea that the historic impasse was momentary" as he claims. But the ICC itself, the true ICC, the one we claim and with whom the present one has broken and that it wants to liquidate, when it has formulated at the origin the theory of decomposition : "This phase of decomposition is fundamentally determined by unprecedented and unexpected historical conditions: a situation of temporary “social stalemate” due to the mutual “neutralisation” of the two fundamental classes, each preventing the other from providing a definitive response to the capitalist crisis" ("Theses on decomposition", International Review 62, 1990, we underline).
If the ICC considers now that the historic impasse which occured at the end of the 1980's because the mutual "neutralisation" of the two fundamental classes - which is exactly what we're talking about and not the muddle ["revoltijo" in spanish - note of the translator] which the article is serving us ! - doesn't belong to the past (see the concrete expressions of classes struggle and the tendency towards war we can observe the last years), but even if it considers that this stalemate isn't any more temporary as the ICC presented it at the beginning (and if our memory is correct at least up to our final exclusion of the organization in March 2002), and if it considers that it tends to become (or has it yet become ?) a permanent phenomenon, then the ICC must clearly answer in stead of beating about the bush. If it has "discover" that the historic stalemate has become permanent, it must declare it clearly and frankly to the working class.
And they get indignant when we qualify them as "supporters of the automatic collapse of capitalisme", of "fatalists" and of... "liquidationists" !
1. Anyway, we "thank" the today ICC for this criticism since, at least for once, it doesn't limit to the usual accusations of being thiefs, cops, snitches and murderers. At least, we're now raised up to the category of servile, opportunist and revisionist sycophants !
2. This "precision" is repeated in many occasions in the article : "Marxism does not say that the revolution is inevitable. It does not deny will as a factor in history: it demonstrates that will is not enough; that it is realised in a material framework which is the product of an evolution, a historical dynamic, which it has to take into account in order to be effective. (...) What marxism affirms is not that the communist revolution is the inevitable result of the mortal contradictions".
3. "Alternative = Choice between two or more exclusive possibilities" (English dictionary).
4. "But contrary to the 1968 to 1989 period when the outcome of the class contradictions couldn't be but war or revolution, the new period [of "Decomposition] opens the way to a third possibility : the destruction of humanity not through an apocalyptic war, but through a gradual advance of the decomposition" (Resolution on the international situation, point 17, underlined and translated from french by us since still it's not available in the english ICC internet pages).