The following text is the first part of a critical article on the question of the "irrationality of war" which the "new" ICC defends since some years now. Our text is based on an article of Revolutionary Perspectives 37, publication of the IBRP in Great-Britain, which denounces the abandon by the ICC at its last international congress (see the adopted Resolution on the International Situation) of the imperialist generalised war as "solution" of capitalism for its historical crisis and of one of the theoretical foundations of the concept of decadence, it means the cycle "crisis-war-reconstruction-new crisis". We support the participation of the IBRP comrades to this political battle.
Opening this polemic, the IBRP shows that the debate is going on and deepening within the proletarian camp.
In continuity with the discussions on the Party question, it's on the question of decadence, of the cycles of capitalism crisis since the beginning of the 20th Century, that the debate is developing between the groups of the proletarian camp, in particular between the IBRP and our fraction since some times now. We refer the reader to our bulletins and to the IBRP texts. On the question of war, of its causes and its economical foundations, our fraction aims at defending the basic positions, the "foundation principles" of the ICC. That is why, if the present ICC, stuck in its sectarianism, has ignored up until today the political critic of the IBRP comrades, it belongs to us to come back to the true positions of the ICC, to their history and to critically examine them in the real process in which they developed.
On this subject as on many others, the fraternal debate and the discussion with the IBRP make appear that the disagreements are real – there is no question to hide them, nor to minimize them, for our fraction and for the IBRP. But above all, it appears that the commune theoretical and political basis are much more important and that the debate enables each one to precise his analysis, to remove the misunderstandings, to better understand the statements of the "other", and oftenly to agree on the essential.
Finally, the debate is also the mean to fight back the opportunist and "revisionist" drifts and expressions which develops today in particular (but not only, far from it !) in the ICC.
The Communist Workers Organisation (CWO) has recently published an article in which it makes a polemic with the International Communist Current (ICC) about the question of imperialist war and its economical function in capitalism's decadence (1). It's true that the debate between the ICC and other groups of the proletarian camp (and in particular the IBRP to which belongs the CWO)) about decadence, the crisis and imperialist war is not new ; it was already at the core of the discussions of the international conferences at the end of the 1970's and it carried on in various articles all along the following decades. Nevertheless, in this last article of the CWO, there is a new and particularly important aspect in the criticism to the ICC :
"... the cycle of crisis/war/reconstruction has been recognised as the life cycle of capitalism in the period which opened with the 20th century. The ICC has now decided that the period in which this cycle sustained the capitalist system has ended. At their 16th congress they announced, without any explanation, that: « The cycle of crisis/war/reconstruction is over ».
This assertion is, in fact, derived from the earlier assertion that capitalism is in a period of « decomposition and chaos ». (...) Instead of explaining the basis of their assertions, the ICC has treated them as proven fact and proceeded to draw out conclusions implicit in them. These conclusions show the ICC moving from the political ground of left communism and of Marxism itself (Revolutionary Perspectives37, we underline).
Thus, for the first time, a group of the proletarian camp (apart from our fraction) aknowledges that the ICC is in a process of giving up its own fundamental basic positions. It means that, in the debate with the ICC, the comrades don't deal with a theoretical or political divergence, more or less old, between two organisations within the proletarian camp, but the manner through which this revolutionary organisation is giving up the positions it has defended and, thus, the commune positions of the Communist Left and up to the basic principles of marxism. So the CWO recalls that :
"At this time, the forces of left communism were broadly agreed that periods of generalised war, such as the First and Second World Wars, in some way laid the basis for periods of renewed accumulation of capital. The arguments at that time were between those who saw the war as leading to a period of higher profitability by devaluing constant capital, and those who saw war as creating new markets for the realisation of surplus value. Despite these differences, there was broad agreement that the reproduction of capitalism in the period from the start of the 20th century was characterised by a life cycle of crisis followed by world war followed by reconstruction leading to crisis once more. This cycle, which was seen as rooted in the economic contradictions of capitalism, characterised what was called the phase of capitalist decadence or the imperialist period. Wars were thus seen to have a key economic function in capitalism's life cycle, that is to say, in the survival of the system.
With the collapse of the Russian bloc at the end of the 1980's, this understanding has been challenged. Instead of seeing war as serving an economic function for the survival of the capitalist system, it has been argued by some left communist groups, notably the Internationalist Communist Current (ICC), that wars serve no function for capitalism. Instead, wars are characterised as "irrational", without either short or long-term function in capitalist accumulation. These views echo in a confused way the views of the theoreticians of the Second International, such as Kautsky, who saw war as nothing but an obstacle in the path of capitalist accumulation" (Revolutionary Perspectives 37, we underline).
after having noticed the present theoretical drift of the ICC, the RP
article limits itself to oppose it to the already known position of
the CWO and the IBRP on war, without entering in the internal
theoretical process which drove the ICC to such a point. Of course,
it was very difficult it would be otherwise. The task of explaining
how, through which debates (if they have existed), the ICC got to the
point of adopting resolutions at its last international congress
which are in obvious contradiction with its own platform, belongs
firstly to our fraction. The present ICC is unable to frankly and
openly acknowkedge how has been opened the way to the modification of
its positions of principle ; thus it's our fraction, the
internal fraction of the ICC,
which one more time have to get back critically to this process.
Also, in this article, it appears necessary to examine the following
points to deal with this evolution of the ICC position on the
imperialist war :
- the ICC position of origin on imperialist war ;
- the appearance of the notion of "irrationality of war" ;
- the ICC analysis on imperialist war from its theory of decomposition ;
- the spreading of the notion of "irrationality" to all levels of the present ICC analysis.
We agree on the fact that, at the origin, and despite the disagreeements on the analysis of the capitalist crisis, the IBRP and the ICC shared a commune position on what characterizes capitalism decadence, in particular the cycle crisis-war-reconstruction-new crisis. As we know, for the ICC the cycle is determined by the fact capitalism has reached its historical limit which was revealed by the end of the geographical expansion of the system to the world and by the sharing out of the markets between the great imperialist powers. Since its origins and in the continuity of the revolutionaries of the begining of the 20th century as Lenin and R. Luxemburg, the ICC - basing itself on the fundamental economical contradictions of capitalism which had led to chronical economical crisis - always defended the idea according to which imperialist politics were inescapable in decadent capitalism which means a struggle of all countries, and in first place the great powers, for the "world sharing out" :
"The second stage of the historical process of capitalism expansion : the period of increased and generalised world competition of the capitalist States around the last rests of no capitalist territories of the globe" (Rosa Luxemburg, The Accumulation of Capital, An anti-critique, translated by us from french).
"For the first time the world is completely divided up, so that in the future only redivision is possible, i.e., territories can only pass from one “owner” to another, instead of passing as ownerless territory to an owner" (Lenin, Imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism, marxism.org, we underline).
Up to recently, the ICC also defended the idea according to which, with the sharpening of these imperialist struggles, the only outcome of capitalism to its crisis was precisely and inescapably world war. From this, ensues the cycle of capitalism decadence :
"Competition between capitalist nations has become more and more implacable. Since 1914 imperialism, which has become the means of survival for every nation no matter how large or small, has plunged humanity into a hellish cycle of crisis - war - reconstruction - new crisis… " (Platform of the ICC, we underline).
On the other hand, it's quite true, as RP notices it, that the ICC attributed a certain economical function to imperialist war :
world and imperialist war (...) has two powers to momentarily resolve
capitalism crisis : on
one part, it eliminates the destroyed capitalist countries from the
world competition for markets ; on the other part, it
momentarily transforms the destroyed countries into markets for the
winners' commodities which contribute to their reconstruction.
It's so that, since 1914, declining capitalism survives according to a cycle of crisis, war, reconstruction. It's in this cycle of permament and generalised barbarism that we must put back the present crisis" (ICC, The Decadence of Capitalism, The Immediate Causes for the Present Crisis, translated by us from french since this part of the pamphlet isn't available on the english web pages of the ICC – at the origin this text has been written for the 3rd International Conference of the Left Communist groups, Nov. 1978).
Nevetheless, in regards to this matter, it's important to clearly note that, behind the understandings of the theory of the crisis (overproduction and lack of markets or decline of the rate of profit), there wasn't only a problem of "economical" theory but also an important political disagreement for the different consequences which ensued of each one. Thus, the concern of the ICC has always been to mark the historical limit of capitalism, the possibility this one drives to the destruction of humanity because its contradictions - and particularly through a "definitive" imperialist world war -, essentially in opposition to the political positions which tend to attribute to capitalism the ability of an unlimited development, eternal so to speak. This disagreement which openly appeared when the defeat of the revolutionary wave of the beginning of the 20th century became obvious, has a much more ancient origin, in particular in the debates on imperialism and decadence at the turning point of the 19th and 20th centuries, and in the struggle against opportunism ; but , at the theoretical level, it expresses the real contradiction of capitalism itself in the fact that, actually, on one side capitalism can't survive without developing the productive forces and, on the other side and at the same time, as long it carries on surviving, it tends non only to hinder always more this development but also to destroy it at every new "cycle" an increasing mass of productive forces.
The ICC has always underlined the qualitative change that capitalism has lived between the ascending and the decadent epochs : while the periodic economical crisis of the ascending period - if they provoked the depreciation and the destruction of a part of capital - drove to an economical and geographical expansion of this same capitalism. On the contrary, in the decadent period, beside becoming "chronical", the crisis doesn't find an outcome apart from "a generalised settling of scores", in an imperialist world war in the course of which every time the destruction of production means and the death of millions of human beings are proportionally more important. This gives rise to a "withdrawal" of production and trade from which we have a period not of expanson but of reconstruction of what has been destroyed. And it's only in the framework of "reconstruction" that the productive forces will develop at a greater scale than the previous one (and this always more tends to militaristic production)... up to fall again in a chronical crisis even wider and deeper and so on, in a tendency which ends up at the end in an imperialist world war which can be "definitive" at the level of humanity survival.
In that sense, it's interesting to underline how the article of RP presents this growing destruction as unique mean of capitalism survival, almost in the same terms as the ICC did during decades :
is estimated that during the First World War 35% of the
accumulated wealth of mankind was destroyed or squandered in four
years. (...) During the Second World War, half of all
production was diverted into state consumption for the war. (...)
Both in the US and in Europe, capital failed to accumulate for the
entire period of the war. (...) Throughout Europe
railroad lines, marshalling yards and port facilities lay in ruins.
Machinery had been worn out through constant use and under
maintenance. (...) Although the US did not suffer the physical
destruction of constant capital by enemy action which occurred
throughout Europe, the devaluation of constant capital values by
suspension of accumulation was similarly dramatic.
The organic composition of US capital was reduced by 35% during the war and only regained the level of 1940 at the start of the 1960's. This was largely achieved by devaluation of constant capital. However, in addition, the war brought about a devaluation of labour power (...) by massively reduced living standards and restriction of working class consumption via rationing (...). This represents an increase in the rate of exploitation (...).
The general recovery was based on the increased profit rates brought about by the economic effects of the war. We argue that world wars have become essential for capitalism's survival since the start of the 20th century and that they have replaced decennial crises of the 19th century. The life cycle of capitalism has accordingly become one of crisis followed by world war followed by reconstruction, crisis, etc. (...).
The fact that the economic effect of war is to devalue capital and increase profit rates does not, of course, mean that the capitalist class starts world wars with the objective of devaluing global capital. The objectives of global wars are imperialist objectives, namely complete destruction of the capital of the rival nation or bloc of nations" (RP 37).
We should seriously wonder if don't already exist the conditions (and the historical necessity) for the historical currents of the Communist Left to clarify and to finally overcome this theoretical and political disagreement on the crisis and the contradiction between the development of the productive forces and the obstacle set up by the survival of the capitalist relations of production ; and to work to the "reunification" of the theory in the sense Marx himself presented it. Unfortunately, instead of supporting this kind of statements made by the IBRP to make advance the debate and the clarification in the proletarian camp, the ICC aims at increasingly deepening the theoretical disagreements by depreciating the statements or by being ironical at them or, even worst, by resorting to "new" arguments which are clearly antimarxists.
The notion of "irrationality of war" didn't appear in the ICC directly from the theory of decomposition, as RP says, even though it's from this so-called theory that the question of "irrationality" has taken its delirious dimension and significance we have seen afterwards. Before the adoption of this theory, we could already read in the International Review of the ICC that :
the 1870 war, by permitting the reunification of Germany, was for
this country a major precondition for the formidable development it
went through at the end of the 19th century, while even for the
defeated country France, it didn’t really have negative
consequences (...) : it was during the last three decades of the
19th century that France went though its most important
industrial development (...). In contrast to this, the two
great wars of this century which, at the beginning, involved the same
two antagonists, had as their main consequence not a new step
forward in the development of the productive forces, but an
unprecedented devastation of the productive forces, and in
particular of the most important of them — the working
In the previous century the destruction caused by and the cost of wars were simply the ‘expenses’ of capitalist expansion, expenses which in general were amply recovered by subsequent returns. Since the beginning of this century, they have been a bloodletting which has ruined all the belligerents, the ‘victors’ as well as the ‘vanquished’. The fact that capitalist relations of production have ceased to be the condition for the development of the productive forces, that they have in fact become heavy fetters on this development, is clearly expressed in the level of the ravages suffered by the economies of both countries which have been at the heart of the historic development of these relations of production (...).
The two world wars, and particularly the last one (...) have already shown that the total absurdity of the capitalist mode of production is expressed not only by the increasingly crushing weight of militarism on the economy, nor by the fact that war has lost any real economic rationality, but also by the incapacity of the ruling class to control the juggernaut hurtling towards total war" (International Review 52, 1988, article firmed by FM, we underline).
As we can see, at the origin, the notion of "irrationality of war" was precisely looking for underlining the historical limit of capitalism, it means how the capitalist relations of production were transformed in an "obstacle to the development of the productive forces", how capitalism had already stopped to be historically necessary. Nevertheless, we must aknowledge that the concept of "irrationality of war" is actually a drift in relation with the historical materialist method which can lead to theoretical and political mistakes and on which we have to explain in detail.
1 – Firstly, the attribution of "rationality" or "irrationality" to any historical fact has already been criticised and rejected by the founders of the historical materialist method as an expression of idealist method and, in particular, as an expression of bourgeois ideology. While historical materialism reveals the tendencies, the historical perspectives through the analysis of the facts themselves, through the study of the concrete historical process, on the contrary idealism determines - or prejudges - the rationality, it means the "reason for living" [the "raison d'être"] of these facts, from any "ideal" preconceived principle towards which these facts "must" tend, otherwise they are considered as "irrational".
Engels, for instance, indicated how the bourgeois criticism of feodalism as "irrational" represented the idealization of bourgeois society itself as final and definitive "rational" society : "Every form of society and government then existing, every old traditional notion was flung into the lumber room as irrational (...). We know today that this kingdom of reason was nothing more than the idealised kingdom of the bourgeoisie" (Engels, Antidühring, Introduction, General, marxist.org).
Even more explicitly, Antonio Labriola indicates that the historical materialism method "is the explicit negation of every form of rationalism, understanding by this word this concept, that things in their existence and their development answer to a norm, an ideal, a measure, an end, in an implicit or explicit fashion" (Antonio Labriola, Essays on the Materialist Conception of History, Chapter 4).
2 – The defect of this method which consists in judging things as "rational" or "irrational" can be already perceived in the passage we've just quoted above. On one side, when one judges as "total absurdity" the capitalist mode of production from the point of view of "society" taken abstractly, one precisely judges as if a rationality existed above the classes ; and not from the point of view of concrete society which is divided into classes and for which, for one of them, imperialist world war has actually a good "reason for living" : the one which has been brought out since always by the revolutionaries, it means "the sharing of the markets". In addition, if we begin to consider the wars of decadence as "irrational" and the ones of ascendancy as "rational", then we fall into speculations such as : were the extermination or the enslaving of millions of human beings, or the famines provoked by the crisis of the ascendant capitalism epoch, "rational" or "irrational" historical facts for "society" ?
On the other side, if we affirm that, in capitalism decadence, imperialist world war "loses even any least true economical rationality", we affirm at the same time that war is thus only the product of political, ideological, factors or of any other kind of "subjectivity" ; and that it isn't a necesity from the point of view of the economical foundations of society. It means it isn't "objectively" necessary, nor thus inevitable. So we get up to the conclusion according to which decadent capitalism could exist without world imperialist wars which is exactly the contrary of what we wanted to initially underline.
3 – Finally, let's see the arguments which are presented to establish the "economical irrationality" of imperialist war. The first one is that it is "not a new step forward in the development of the productive forces, but an unprecedented devastation of the productive forces" (International Review 52) Actually, world imperialist war represents a without precedent destruction of productive forces, every time more important and which, tendencially, gets to complete barbarism, to the ruin of humanity itself ; this is precisely the decadent characteristic of the capitalist system. And, nevertheless, such a destruction not only doesn't cease of having an economical "reason" from the decadent capitalism point of view, but also it constitutes an essential condition of its survival, as the marxist revolutionaries have developed it since the end of the 19th Century. And it is in this apparent paradox that we have too the decadent character of the system.
Actually, the development and the destruction of productive forces are two phases of the same process of capitalist production, and since its ascendant period. The commercial crisis of the "classical" cycle already led also to physical destruction of productive forces (machinery, raw materials, commodities, and indeed unemployment and starvation amongst the working population), and not only a depreciation of capital (as the present ICC gives to understand in one of its latest debates with the IBRP (2) : "Commerce is at a standstill, the markets are glutted, products accumulate, as multitudinous as they are unsaleable, hard cash disappears, credit vanishes, factories are closed, the mass of the workers are in want of the means of subsistence (...) productive forces and products are wasted and destroyed wholesale, until the accumulated mass of commodities finally filters off, more or less depreciated in value, until production and exchange gradually begin to move again" (Engels, Antidühring, Socialism, theoretical, marxist.org, we underline).
The qualitative change of the ascendancy to decadence consists precisely , not in the appearance of destruction of productive forces and in the disappearance of development, but in the fact that, with the appearance of imperialist world war, the "phase of destruction" of the process of capitalist production itself becomes predominant over its "phase of development", that it determines it always more.
Contrary to various revolutionaries as Trotski or of the Left Communist of France itself who, looking at the ruins left by the Second World War, got to think that the productive forces had ceased to increase in absolute manner, the ICC could give precision in its initial formulation of the theory of crisis according to which the capitalist decadence didn't mean such a destruction of productive forces, nor an absolute brake to its development, but that this destruction had become the dominant "tendency" :
"For the understanding of the world economical crisis, Schwab, KAPD militant, stressed on the fundamental differences which existed between the ascendant period of capitalism and its period of decline and that we could find an understanding from the fact that this decline didn't mean a complete stagnation of productive forces but an evolution of capitalism on a more and more destructive basis. « Capital rebuilds, saves its profits but at the expense of productivity. Capital restores its power by destroying the economy ». we already find here the understanding of the improductive spendings, of the under-utilisation of capital, and above all of the cycle of crisis-war-reconstruction which are the fundamental characteristics of the decadente phase of capitalism" (ICC, The Decadence of Capitalism, The Theory of Decadence in the Workers Movement History, 1975, translated from us from french).(3)
The second argument put forwards to defend the "irrationality" of imperialist world war is the ruin that it causes to the defeated as well as to the winners. This argument forgets that ruin comes from the economical crisis. It means that it simply passes over the fact that the countries which embark into the war are already ruined beforehand if they don't find new markets, sources of raw material and low paid work force, etc. or if they lose the ones they possess (4). But we must underline that this argument makes coming back implicitly the idea according to which the countries wouldn't "ruin" (or at least not so much) if they wouldn't embark themselves in war. Thus, it open the door to the idea according to which capitalism would survive better without imperialist world wars, it means the idea that imperialist world wars aren't indispensable for its survival. The ICC had never get to that point... until the present process of organisational and political drift started.
We fully agree with Revolutionary Perspectives when it says that the present ICC is giving up its own basic positions in regards to decadence and imperialist war, positions it used to share with the other groups of the proletarian camp and which are part of the legacy of the Communist Left. Nevertheless, this theoretical and political giving up doesn't simply ensue from the application of the ICC theory of the "social decomposition" (5), as puts it RP, even though this theory served as basis afterwards.
Thus, if we have a look to the publications of the ICC, in particular the International Review, since 1989 - when the theory of decomposition has been adopted - up to 2000, we don't find any questionning about the "cycle" crisis-war-reconstruction as characteristic of decadence, nor the conclusion according to which finally the crisis wouldn't lead to world war as it is said now. On the contrary what we can find, is the analysis of an "open"situation, its following through concrete manifestations of two tendencies inter-acting : the "each one for himself" and the formation of a new duo of imperialist blocs. For one part, the tendency of "each one for himself" corresponded to the real situation that capitalism was living after the collapse of the Rusian imperialist bloc and the dissolution of the North-American bloc where the great, middle and small powers were playing their own game, were separating from their former imperialist bosses, in a centrifugal tendency that only the United-States were interested and had the ability to contain. At the same time, the ICC was able to underline the recovering tendency to the formation of a new set of imperialist blocs ; the fact that, with the collapse of the Rusian bloc and the German reunification, the latter was now presenting itself as candidate for being the boss of a future new bloc, as put it obvious its diplomatic and military activity as well as the US actions directed to prevent any development of this tendency.
It's true that, more and more frequently, the analysis of the "each one for himself" driving to the conclusion that the possibility that a new set of blocs (and thus the conditions for a new world war) won't be able to form, was put forwards while we continued to affirm that, one way or another, capitalism was moving towards increasing imperialist wars provoked first and foremost by the great powers (question which too tends to presently disappear). So, the ICC was able to underline how we could always find the hand of the great imperialist powers in the regional conflicts ; it was able to underline that the determinant of the world political situation of capitalism carried on being the struggle amongst them which expressed through a serie of ephemeral alliances of the ones against the others which marked, one way or another, the tendency to the setting up of new blocs. It's so that, for instance, it has been able to follow and clearly analyze the war in Yugoslavia in the midst of the 1990's.
"But the antagonisms between the different nationalisms in ex-Yugoslavia wouldn't be sufficient to foster and develop the war, if the world great powers wouldn't feed them and exacerbate them, if the «pacifist» speeches of the later weren't other thing than the ideological cover for their own imperialist politics. The worst enemy of peace in ex-Yugoslavia isn't but the mercyless war that the great powers are engaged in. (...) This war has represented for the German capital or French one a powerful tool to split up the alliance between United-States and Great-Britain as well as to sabotage the NATO structure, ruling instrument of the American capital upon the former members of the western bloc. (...) At the same time, this war is for Washington a mean to hamper the consolidation of the European Union around Germany..." (International Review 82, More the Powers Talk of Peace, More They Sow War, June 1995, translated by us from french).
We can also see that the ICC had maintained its basic positions on decadence and imperialist war all along the 1990's despite and above the theory of decomposition, in the defence of its positions which were expressed in the polemics with other groups of the proletarian camp. For instance, in 1994, the ICC made a polemic with the ICP ("borduiguist") regarding the underestimation this group was making in front of the danger of a third world war :
"Worse still, in letting it be thought that, in any case, the material conditions of a 3rd World War were not yet present, it [the ICP-Communist Programme] has helped to demobilise the working class against this threat, playing, on a small scale, the role of the reformists on the eve of the 1st World War when they convinced the workers that the war was no longer a threat. (...) The collapse of the Eastern Bloc, at the end of the 80s, has momentarily eclipsed the military and diplomatic conditions for a new World War. However, the mistaken vision of PC continues to weaken the political capacities of the proletariat. The disappearance of the blocs has not put an end to military conflicts, far from it. The large and medium powers continue to confront each other in the conflicts of small states and even through ethnic conflicts. The reason why these powers don’t engage more directly on the ground, or why when they do it effectively (like in the Gulf War in 1991) they only send professional soldiers or volunteers, is the fear that to send conscripts, that is workers in uniform, would provoke reactions and a mobilisation of the working class" (International Review 78, Rejecting the notion of decadence, polemic with the ICP, 1994, article firmed by FM).
As we can see, the "threat" of a world war was still existing for the ICC since the disappearance of the conditions for it was only "momentary". And the main obstacle for this wasn't "the decomposition, the chaos and the each one for himself" but the working class. As well, in its polemic with the IBRP where we dealt with the question of "irrationality" of war in decadence, we could read :
wars are the fullest expression of the infernal spiral of
disintegration that capitalism has been caught in since entering its
period of decadence. The cycle is no longer a phase of expansion
followed by a phase of crisis (but) this cycle passes from
generalised imperialist war for the re-division of the world market,
through post-war reconstruction, to a new, far worse crisis, as
has already happened twice in this century.
The era of generalised imperialist war springs from the dead-end that capitalism has entered with its phase of decadence, when it is unable to continue accumulating because of the scarcity of new markets, which had previously allowed it to extend its relations of production. (...) . Generalised imperialist war is the main expression of this process of decomposition and destruction, into which the whole of capitalist society has entered” (International Review 79, 1994, Polemic with the IBRP, article firmed Adalen, we underline).
One more time and still in 1994, the ICC defended that "the cycle crisis-war-recontruction" and the "the generalised imperialist war for the re-division of the world market" were the "main" characteristics of the decadent phase of capitalism.
Up to the 13th international congress in 1999, the ICC has carried on keeping this open, double, contradictory vision between the "each one for himself" and the "formation of new imperialist blocs". But since that congress, it begun to have difficulties to perceive this vision as a dialectical process in which were set and opposed the two tendencies :
is an enormous factor favouring the each one for himself. But it
doesn't eliminate the tendency to the formation of blocs.
Neither can we theoretically pretend that decomposition as such makes
impossible the formation of blocs by principle. (...) We
too know that the each one for himself and the formation of blocs
aren't contradictory in the absolute, that the blocs aren't but the
organised form of the each one for himself in order to canalize all
the frustated imperialist rivalries into a unique explosion.
We know that the long term aim of the United-States, remaining the strongest world power, is a quite realistic project. Nevertheless, for the pursuit of this goal, they are tangled up in insolvable contradictions. For Germany, it is exactly the contrary : while its project in the long term of a bloc it will lead, could perhaps never realize, its concrete politic in this direction proves to be extremely realistic. (...) The alliance with Poland, the advances in the Balkan peninsula, the reorientation of its armed forces towards military interventions abroad, are steps in the direction of a future German bloc. Small steps indeed, but enough to considerably worry the world superpower" (Report on the imperialist conflicts, 13th International Congress of the ICC, International Review 98, 1999, translated from french by us).
As we can note, it already appears here that the two tendencies aren't contradictory "in the absolute" ; that, in the tendency to "the formation of new blocs", the United-States "are tangled up in insolvable contradictions" ; regarding Germany, its project of ruling a future bloc "could perhaps never realize"..
Despite all this, the ICC had still the sufficient theoretical tools with those elements of analysis even though ambiguous, for understanding the historical meaning of the events which occurred since the collapse of the Twin Towers in 2001and, in particular, the open opposition of the German-French-Rusian alliance to the Iraq invasion by the United-States as an expression of the new step of the tendency towards a new imperialist bipolarisation which have not but developed since then.
Yet, it's precisely during that period, during the 14th international congress of the ICC in 2001that this one "divides", we can say, not through a debate but because the hushing-up of the debate within the organisation. It means the division didn't come as the product of an open theoretical and political battle but as a result of the breaking-out of a process of organisational and political drift during that congress (whose one main expressions has been the formation and the expulsion of our fraction). We won't come back here on this process we have presented in various issues of our bulletin. Just let's mention that the family faction who seized the leadership of the organisation from this congress, has justified its disciplinary means, the hushing-up of the debate and the banning of the existence of our fraction through the diverted interpretation of the "theory of decomposition" according to which these means (sanctions, suspensions, selfcriticisms, investigation commissions, trails and courts, etc...) were necessary in order to "put a brake on decomposition" within the very inside of the organisation which, according to this family faction, expresses itself through the "formation of clans" and through the "development of gangsterism and hooliganism amongst the militants" (6). This improper using of the theory of decomposition quickly reflected at the theoretical level ; the theory of decomposition begun to fill the lack of analysis and debates. They begun to explain everything through "decomposition, chaos and the each one for himself" with the desastrous results we see now at all levels in the following of the crisis, of the imperialist conflicts and of the class struggle. At its turn, the mechanical application of "decomposition" to all things reflected and is reflecting on the political positions and on the organisation up to lead to the present catastrophic situation.
Our fraction, on the contrary, has fought this process of organisational drift, has criticized the theory of decomposition, and has tried to establish the precise limits of the period we lived since the collapse of the Eastern bloc up to the attacks against the New-York Twin Towers ; thus, it defended the basic principles of the organisation against the continous attacks it suffers from the "official" ICC. And in regards with the question of this article, it had the ability to carry on the analysis of the ICC about the imperialist step of Germany which led it to define the new process of imperialist bipolarisation in the framework of the march the world bourgeoisie has relaunched towards a new generalised imperialist war. Such is the theoretical "split" which opened up between the internal fraction of the ICC which carries on defending the original and true ICC positions and the present ICC which doesn't stop to betray and to give them up.
(To be continued)
1. "The economical rôle of war in capitalism's decadent phase", Revolutionary Perspectives 37, November 2005, Publication of the CWO, IBRP english group.
2. See for instance the article Reply to the IBRP (Part 1) : The Nature of Capitalist War : "In the decadent period these crises of the devaluation of capital continue and have become more or less chronic (see our polemical article with the IBRP in International Review no 79, the section “The nature of “cycles of accumulation” in capitalist decadence”). However, this inherent and consubstantial feature of capitalism, superimposes itself on another characteristic of its decadent epoch, which is the fruit of the extreme aggravation of the contradictions carried within this epoch: the tendency to the destruction and sterilisation of capital" (International Review 82, 1995).
3.. Even the revolutionaries who understand decadence as a brake or an "absolute" destruction of productive forces, don't stop to defend the economical "rationality" of imperialist war but also they consider it as the unique "rationality", it means as the unique "raison d'être" as unique mean for capitalism survival : "The collapse of the capitalist world which has historically exhausted any possibility of development, finds in modern war, in imperialist war, the expression of this collapse which, without opening up any possibility of ulterior development of production, doesn't but swallow up the productive forces in the abyss and accumulate ruins upon ruins in an increased rate. (...) The lack of new outlets and new markets where the surplus value contained in the products can realize, opens up a permament crisis of the capitalist system. (...) More the market contracts, more the struggle for controling the raw materials and the mastering of world market becomes fierce. The economical struggle between various groups of capitalists increasingly concentrates itself and adopts its most achieved form between States. The exacerbated struggle between States can't but finally be resolved through the military force" (Report on the International Situation, Gauche Communiste de France, 1945, republished in International Review 59, 1995).
4. "In 1939, Hilter declared the Second World War to cries of « Germany must export or die ! »" (ICC, The Decadence of Capitalism, translated by us).
5. We already dealt with the criticism of the theory of decomposition and chaos in our bulletin.
6."Society as a whole is affected by capitalism's decomposition (...). The proletariat is not spared these effects, and its class consciousness, its confidence in the future, its class solidarity are constantly under attack by the ideology and social practice engendered by this decomposition: nihilism, escapism into irrational and mystical ideologies, atomisation and the dissolution of human solidarity in favour of the false collective of gangs or clans. The revolutionary minority itself is not immune from the negative effects of decomposition, in particular through the resurgence of political parasitism" (Resolution on International Situation, Extraordinary Conference, 2002, International Review 110).
Communist Bulletin Nš 34 - Internal Fraction of ICC