We publish here a contribution of the IBRP comrades on the question of the Party and Consciousness, Question of consciousness : points of discussion, followed by a summary we made of the discussion between the IBRP and our fraction.
This discussion on the question of the Party doesn't appear from nowhere. From the first contacts our fraction had with the IBRP, even before our final expulsion from the ICC in March 2002, we engaged in a debate on the basis of the confrontation of the respective positions on various subjects (for instance, the reader can refer to the one we had on the decadence 1). On the question of the Party and Consciousness, besides the direct talks during the meetings, we made a collective effort to read, or re-read, the positions of the IBRP and the ICC. It enabled us to make the agreements, disagreements, the misunderstandings, and the real political content which lay behind the use of this or that concept or expression more precise. This is just one moment of a process, still underway, of fraternal political confrontation which we want to present today to the whole proletarian camp. This is because, beyond political clarification of positions, the very way this process of political confrontation takes place is, according to us, an example to be followed and a lesson for all communist forces.
Very quickly, the discussion with the comrades of the IBRP has naturally, inevitably, necessarily, focused on the question of consciousness as a theoretical and political central question as well as "historical" point of disagreement between the IBRP and the ICC. But far from making it an abstract or "philosophical" discussion, we stuck to the history of the workers’ movement and to the theoretical and political lessons on this matter.
In particular, we dealt with and we referred immediately to Lenin's conceptions in his book What is to be Done ? (1902). Still and above all today, What is to be Done ? separates us from all kinds of councilism, in all its forms (from the simple underestimation of the party role to its rejection and its pure and simple liquidation), including the most "modern", the most "hidden" and the most "sophisticated". Our fraction, in direct continuity with "our" ICC despite its lack of precision at its very origin precisely vis-à-vis councilism because of the conditions of its constitution, fully supports this struggle by Lenin.
The text published here follows a statement of our fraction, About the IBRP Text on the Party, responding to a previous text discussed within the IBRP itself (2). Beyond the interest of the political positions presented in the text we publish, this one also marks a moment in the political confrontation of our respective positions since it provides a framework, a basis, from which the political clarification must carry on. Since then, the points of agreement clearly clarified were basically the following :
- a common support for Lenin's struggle, in particular in What is to be Done ?, against economism, which today means against councilism in all its forms ;- a common rejection of Lenin's unfortunate re-use in What is to be done ?, and which he later went back on, of Kautsky's vision according to which communist consciousness was "elaborated by the educated representatives of the propertied classes, by intellectuals" (3) ;- a common agreement with Lenin that communist consciousness isn't the direct product of the immediate struggle. As he wrote "class political consciousness can be brought to the workers only from without, that is, only from outside the economic struggle, from outside the sphere of relations between workers and employers" ; we agree with Lenin when he rejects the view "that it is possible to develop the class political consciousness of the workers from within, so to speak, from their economic struggle, i.e., by making this struggle the exclusive (or, at least, the main) starting-point, by making it the exclusive (or, at least, the main) basis" (What is to be Done ?, our emphasis) ;- the same agreement on the fact that the communist organisation, the party, has the task "of raising the workers to the level of Social-Democratic political consciousness" ;
- and indeed, the permanent need for the party as the organ of political leadership of the proletariat.
We also had a certain number of questions on the IBRP positions which could be linked whether to formulations or real political disagreements such as, for instance, the party-class relation and when building the party. And for its part, the IBRP too had critical questions about some of our formulations, as the reader will notice.
Finally, let's make it clear that the translation of the IBRP comrades' text from Italian to French and Spanish as well as the writing of the arguments and positions put forwards by its delegation during the meeting, are the responsability of the fraction. Of course, if we had made some errors or confusions that the IBRP think necessary to rectify publicly, we will do so in our next bulletin.
The fraction, November 2005
1. See our bulletins 19, 20, 22, 24 et 26.
2. For lack of space, we've made the choice of no publishing here these two texts.
3. "From the point of view of historical materialism we obviously have to reject Lenin's formulation or at least correct it [...]. However the central core of truth in Lenin's views was the idea that communist [...] consciousness was not a direct reflection of the immediate struggle of the working class" (Class consciousness and Working Class Political Organisation, Revolutionary Perspectives 25, IBRP publication in Great-Britain).
Communist Bulletin Nš 33 - Internal Fraction of ICC