When the ICC “polemicizes” it is in order to evade the issue!
(«Proletarian»; Nr. 15; Winter 2018)
In its journal Révolution Internationale No. 464 (May-June 2017), the ICC published an article entitled: “Controversy with the PCI. Daesh, a decomposed avatar of the national liberation struggle!” It is a reaction to an article on the attitude of the ICC in relation to the attacks in Paris, published a year earlier in the columns le Prolétaire No. 519: “The ICC and the attacks. Stupor and tremors”. In our article, we wrote that “the impressionism and the superficiality of the analysis” of the ICC on this subject (analysis which was nothing other than a re-hash of the most worn-out bourgeois propaganda) demonstrated its “deviation from Marxism”; this fatal deviation led it to seek an explanation in the smoky domain of ideology, preventing him from understanding what was happening and condemning it to uttering impotent moans.
The ICC has found it necessary to reply to our article with a “polemic”; but what is obvious in reading this “polemic” is that it does not answer any of our arguments! There is just a little note indicating that, in the framework of its article, that it cannot deal with “other important issues”, such as the accusations of pacifism we brought against it, its bizarre analysis of the balance of power between classes (in fact : its implausible conception that the proletariat and the bourgeoisie have had an equivalent strength, which has lead, for decades, to a “blockage”(stand-off) of society), etc., and its theory of “decomposition”, used to “explain” everything and anything, from far-right Front National’s election scores to jihadist attacks ...
Since it does not want to or cannot answer the “important questions” on which we attacked it, the only thing left for the ICC is to evade the issue. It devotes its long article to talk about something else: notably the question of the national and anticolonial struggles, where it thinks it may find us in default.
Let’s follow it on to this terrain. The ICC quotes excerpts from le Prolétaire articles dating back more than thirty and forty years (1) to assert that we retain “certain confusions which [led us] in the past to punctually abandon the position of proletarian internationalism by supporting even if it was critically, the capitalist forces of the Palestine Liberation Organization”.
These excerpts say nothing of the sort and the party never supported the PLO nor abandoned proletarian internationalism; but it is true that in the early 1980s erroneous positions appeared in the party press which contributed to the crisis of our international organization in 1982-83. A too optimistic vision of the general situation and excessive expectations of what this situation could yield, fueled a theoretico-political weakening of the party of which, dialectically, they were also the consequence. Considering that the party remained irremediably clinging to too rigid political and tactical orientations that were an obstacle to the quick successes they believed at hand, certain elements saw the only solution in the break with our organization, that is, with the current of the so-called “Italian” communist left.
This was the case, among others, of the Algerian militants of El Oumami who accused the party of “indifferentism” because we had written for example that it was not “for the revolutionary communists to redo the capitalist map of the Middle East by becoming the “consequent heirs” of the national bourgeois-Arab wave” (2): the goal of the Communists is the proletarian revolution, the international socialist revolution and not a national bourgeois revolution. Communists do not turn away from bourgeois revolutions; on the contrary, they call on the proletarians to participate in them and to push them as far as possible, not as an end in itself, but in order to clear the way for the subsequent transition to their own international revolution, according to the schema laid down by Marx and Lenin. .
But in reality the divergence with El Oumami activists did not fundamentally focus on this issue, but on their activism – this recurrent disease of revolutionary movements that drives the search for immediate success at the expense of loyalty to political and programmatic principles.
In putting political and programmatic principles aside, just momentarily they swear, the activists think they are making a skilful maneuver, whereas in reality they yield to the pressure of the dominant currents; and when the hoped-for successes are obviously not encountered, they accentuate the abandonment of their initial politico-programmatic positions even to the point of disappearing in the best of cases, or of transforming themselves, at worst, into mere appendices of counterrevolutionary reformist parties. After breaking with the party while swearing to remain faithful to its program, El Oumami began to chase after the Palestinian bourgeois nationalists, then after the bourgeois democrats, the Ben Bellists, etc. until eventually flirting with the Islamists. In the meantime, it had discovered that the party’s program was worth nothing, and basically that it was the revolutionary perspective that had to be abandoned; in the end the only thing left to do was the individual rallying to the established order...
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Let’s go back to the ICC. We reported having to defend in a meeting the Marxist positions in front of a speaker who evoked a possible support for Daesh (ISIS), while claiming to be faithful to the Italian communist left. As minoritarian and paradoxical as it is, it is a position we find among the Spartacists of the LTF and other marginal groups, which is why we have brought it up, as a small example of the prevailing confusion . The ICC makes a big fuss of this writing that it actually causes it “stupor and trembling”! As it is quite clear that its indignation on this subject is a smoke screen and after recalling that we are not responsible for the positions we are fighting, we will not dwell on it any further.
The ICC also reproaches us for speaking in another article of “imperialist countries” and others that are not, and the particular tasks of the proletarians of the imperialist countries to make possible the unity with the proletarians of the dominated countries.
But did we invent this situation? Are French cities being bombarded by the Syrian air force, while mercenary troops paid for, say by Libya, Mali or the Central African Republic would seize portions of French territory, while large enterprises from Chad or Afghanistan would divide what is left of the economy of the country and hundreds and thousands of French proletarians would be willing to risk their lives to try to emigrate to Africa or the Middle East?
The ICC recognizes that our position is that of Lenin and “the workers’ movement of the past”; but according to it, the historical conditions have been changed radically for a century, and it produced a rather unfortunate quote from Rosa Luxemburg against the recognition of the right to national independence of colonized countries: she writes that this recognition by the Bolsheviks will bring “ruin of Russia as a state” (3) ... This was indeed the last concern of the Bolsheviks who had their eyes fixed on the world revolution!
Historical conditions have indeed changed. The cycle of anticolonial struggles and revolutions is over; it has ended, not for a century as Rosa Luxemburg believed and as the ICC still believes, but only a few decades ago. During this gigantic wave that affected hundreds of millions of people after the Second World War, the oppressed and colonized masses had to fight the colonial and imperialist powers alone, without finding any help from the proletarians of these countries, paralyzed by the domination of collaborationist reformism, that agent of the democratic corruption.
This lack of support by the proletariat for these struggles of yesterday, as with the absence today of support for the masses of refugees and migrants, is a far-reaching historical fact that will weigh negatively tomorrow on the efforts for proletarian unification. Currently it makes it difficult to understand that the societies of the opulent imperialist metropolises are divided into opposing classes with opposite interests, and this gives some credibility to the discourses, religious or not, which see there an undifferentiated mass of people in solidarity with the actions of their state, therefore, even when they are civilians, responsible and guilty for its crimes.
But if the bourgeois revolutionary cycle ended with the appearance of dozens of new independent bourgeois states, national oppressions and exactions and imperialist looting did not disappear. This obliges and will force the proletariat to take up the fight against these injustices and oppressions (and others, not reducible to the simple antagonism between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie) which can no longer be solved, in general, except by the proletarian revolution. To take up the struggle does not mean to resume the usual democratic or nationalist orientations on this terrain, but on the contrary to integrate the fight against these oppressions in the anti-bourgeois class struggle. The struggle of the proletarians of the big capitalist states against imperialist intervention, whether armed or not, against all the misdeeds of their state vis-à-vis the populations who suffer from them, is a necessity for the future concretization of the international union of proletarians. .
But the ICC does not suspect anything of this; and its calls for “solidarity” between proletarians can only sound hollow in the ears of the victims of imperialism to whom it explains learnedly that this does not exist, just as with the victims of other oppressions (sexual, racial, etc.) which it never talks about.
Contrary to what the ICC insists, we do not advocate for the working class to defend itself exclusively within a national framework; it is, however, inevitable, as the Manifesto states, that it must first fight against its own bourgeoisie, within the national framework therefore (4).
But it cannot stop there; the working class must, as the Address of 1850 stated, make the revolution permanent until it has conquered power at least in the principal countries of the world. But for that it will have to reconstitute its party, rediscover its program.
We do not know why the ICC has found it necessary to write an article so as not to answer us – and, to tell the truth, it does not concern us very much; but what is certain is that it cannot make any useful contribution to the exalting but difficult path of the classist and revolutionary reorganization of the proletariat.
(1) This is an article from le Prolétaire No. 164 (January 1974) presenting Bordiga’s talk on “The Multiple Revolutions” (Genoa, 1953) and another of No. 370 (March 1983) polemicizing with El Oumami.
(2) See le Prolétaire No. 365, text defended in the article of the n° 370
(3) Rosa Luxemburg in “The Russian Revolution”. The English translation is: «the disintegration of Russia» (as a matter of fact the disintegration of the Russian empire, the so-called “prison house of the peoples”). https://www. marxists. org/archive/luxemburg/1918/russian-revolution/ch03.htm
(4) “The workers have no country. We cannot take what they do not have. Insofar as the proletarian must first of all conquer political power and set itself up as the ruling class of the nation, it is still national, although not in the sense that the bourgeoisie understands it.” “Manifesto of the Communist Party” chapter II. To be an internationalist does not mean to refuse to see that the workers’ struggle cannot but be carried out first in a “national” framework: it is a state of affairs that can only be overcome when the struggle has reached a certain level…
International Communist Party