Internationalist Communists - Klasbatalo
1 - The October Revolution in Russia in 1917 was the first step of an authentic world communist revolution in an international revolutionary wave that ended the imperialist war and continued for several years. The failure of the revolutionary wave, especially in Germany in 1919-23, condemned the revolution in Russia to isolation and rapid degeneration. The Stalinism developed in the 20s and after was only the ideological representation of this degeneration and isolation. It presented itself as the gravedigger of the Russian revolution, introducing a system of centrally planned state capitalism with the doctrine of "socialism in one country" that we reject.
ICP : The Russian revolution was a double revolution: an anti-tsarist, bourgeois revolution, which ripened for a long time in this country and whose main driving force was the peasantry; and an anti-capitalist, socialist revolution, whose driving force was the working class, which was part of an international proletarian revolutionary wave. The power issuing from the revolution was politically proletarian and socialist, but this power could be maintained only on the basis of a compromise with the peasantry.
The failure of the revolution forced the international proletarian power in Russia to try to resist by orienting the unavoidable development of capitalism towards State capitalism and trying to control it. But it is capitalism that ends up controlling the power and the Russian party. Stalinism was not only an "ideological representation" of degeneration of isolation: he represented that political force in Russia which led the anti-proletarian counter-revolution and the realization of the bourgeois revolution. At the international level it became integrated into the global bourgeois counter-revolution of which it was one of the decisive agents by its role within the proletarian movement.
ICK : To put it properly: two revolutions occurred, February and October – each embodying the combined elements of the bourgeois revolution against czarism, and the proletarian revolution against rising capital – domestic and foreign. In both, the working class plays a leading role. The weakness of indigenous Russian capital prevented the local rising bourgeoisie from playing a significant role, leaving the road open for the working class, with close relations to the peasantry, to pursue the process. The “compromise” with the peasantry – imposed by the immediate conditions in war-torn Russia – could only be addressed by the success of the international revolution, both in terms of the preponderance of the proletariat in the developed Capitalist countries, and the availability of modern capitalist means of production. The understanding that ‘if the revolution remains isolated we’re doomed’ understood at the beginning of the revolution was played out with the failure of the German revolution. The confusion that revolutionaries have faced since then is the result of maintaining the illusion that there was some residual proletarian or revolutionary character to the Russian state after the defeats in Germany and elsewhere.
The defeat of the revolutionary wave was a key factor in the degeneration of the proletarian revolution in Russia. It is not true that “ The failure of the revolution forced the international proletarian power in Russia to try to resist by orienting the development of capitalism to State capitalism and trying to control it.” It put the Bolsheviks in the position of completing the tasks of the Bourgeois revolution, exposing both their strengths and weaknesses.
To put it simply, we saw the Bolsheviks’ capacity to lead and unify the proletariat during the period of taking power, on one hand, and then demolishing any sign of workers’ autonomy that might interfere with what, initially, was basic material survival, notably that of the regime, during the civil war. On the other hand, this would later develop into the full-scale subordination of the proletariat to ‘its’ party in the process of completing the tasks of the ‘bourgeois revolution. The tendency toward state capitalism originated with European capitalism’s increased use of the state in the financing of the militarization in the lead up to imperialist rivalries of World War One, with Germany taking the lead. The rationale of the permanent arms or permanent war economy, that plays such a leading role to this day, savagely distorted both the perspectives of the Bolshevik party as well as the aims of the proletarian movement in Russia of 1917 – leaving us the legacy of horror that the proletariat faces today. In many ways, it was both the immaturity of the international vanguard, including the Bolsheviks, as well as the demoralizing effect of the bourgeois state’s integration of the parties of the Second International into its bosom, that ended with support for global war. All of this, in addition to the civil war’s grinding devastation, was a major factor in the isolation and defeat of the Russian revolutionary bastion.
2 - Since the First World War, capitalism is a decadant social system. It has no progressive value to offer . It has twice plunged mankind into a savage cycle of crisis, world war, reconstruction, new crisis. The theory of decadence is a point of view in motion suggesting a direction that global capitalism seeks to make .
ICP : The "theory of decadence" is not able to understand the evolution of global capitalism. At the time of the First World War, capitalism was existent in less than half of the planet; and even in developed capitalist countries there remained large segments of the population who were not wage labourers ( example: in France, Italy, over half the population was still in the countryside). This meant that capitalism had before itself objectively great development potential, if it could overcome the crisis it was in (that is to say if it succeeded in crushing the proletarian revolutionary movement which was also limited only to one part of Europe). At the cost of two world wars, capitalism was able to recommence a very powerful cycle of accumulation and to extend itself to the entire world.
ICK : By the time of the First World War, although “capitalism had only been implanted in less than half of the planet”, it dominated not merely those parts of the world involved in direct capitalist commodity production, but subsumed all pre-capitalist existing societies under its hegemony. And even though it is only in the last few decades that the capitalist mode of production has come to exist virtually everywhere (with the proletariat now the majority of the world’s population), it survives primarily through the extra economic intervention of the dominant imperialist states militarily, politically, and financially. With no more room to expand within the confines of its constituent form, the national state, since the turn of the last century, capitalism no longer has a socially progressive role to play. This is born out by the destructive, cannibalistic nature of its imperialist form in the last century. In those parts of the globe where the capitalist mode of production has taken root in the last 50 years, we see a spiraling regression into the barbarism, originally seen during the First World War, now dragging the dominant capitalist centers along with it. As we said, “decadence is a point of view in motion”, or put another way: a point of view where the dynamics are far from played out.
3 - The former Communist countries of Eastern Europe, China, North Korea, Cuba, etc.. have never been communist countries, despite what bourgeois propaganda says, Stalinist propaganda included. It was and still is, for some countries, where a specific form of state capitalism reigns.
ICP : The young countries that gained their independence on the wave of anti-colonial struggles, have used the State, in a more or less pronounced fashion, partially according to the importance of the remaining domination of the former colonial power, to compensate for the lack of local capital, inspired by the Russian "model" as the only means of accelerating endogenous capitalist development . To the extent that this development was effected, this "state capitalism" was inevitably to give way to a classical capitalism.
ICK : A good contribution, with which we agree. As mentioned, the specific form of state capitalism, represented by the ‘Stalinist model’, is but one expression of the import substitutionalist model that pervaded in the developing ex-colonial world, primarily after the Second World War.
4 - The participation of the working class in the electoral circus and to various parliaments is the best means which the bourgeoisie has discovered to divert the proletariat from its historic task: the emancipation of all humanity. Like fascism, "bourgeois democracy" is a terrain where the proletariat has no real place.
ICP : Before diverting the proletariat from its historic task, bourgeois democracy and the electoral circus by plunging it into class collaboration, prevents the return to the path of independent class struggle, including the defence of its immediate interests.
ICK : Again, an excellent clarification. We admit that as an expression of the diversion of the proletariat's historical tasks implied.
5 - We see the unions as organizations tied to the State by a thousand and one strings, laws, subsidies and collaborations. It is impossible to change the union leadership or try to transform the unions as their links with the capitalist state are organic. This implies the rejection of red unions or anarchist unions.
ICP : The present union apparatusses are completely and irreversibly linked to the bourgeois network of collaboration between classes. But how could these (critical) observations about the current situation of the big official trade unions be used to reject "red unions" (which do not exist) or "anarchist" unions? For their daily struggle for immediate defense against the capitalists, the workers need a specific organization, open to all those who want to defend their class interests. This organization cannot be a closed political organization, i.e. the class party, but rather a union-type organization. Without doubt this economic struggle organization (class union) might fall under reformist or even more generally bourgeois influences: this is why it is necessary that the class party conquer the leadership of this organization to maintain it, or to bring it back , to the correct classist way and to direct its action towards the revolution. It is then used as a transmission belt of the revolutionary positions of the party to the workers who are organized in this class trade union and to those who, without being organized in it, nevertheless follow the actions of this trade union.
ICK : By “bound by a thousand and one ties to the state” we mean that the unions are no longer simply bargaining units over the price of labour, but, since the First World War, have become active agents in the defense and advancement of capitalism and its state, as well as acting as an ideological rearguard for capital. We may intervene in union meetings, but one must do so as to advance forms of organization, struggle, program, and extension, which transcend the sectoralist, nationalist trap that unions today embody. Red unions or party unions (as you say, ‘if they existed…’) also become arbitrators in the rate of exploitation and, as such, would fall under the weight of the law of value, with the added confusion of communists being forced to play capital’s game.
6 - We reject the tactics of "united front" and "popular fronts" and "anti-fascists". All these tactics combine the interests of the proletariat with those of fractions of the bourgeoisie and what they ultimately serve is only to divert the working class from its revolutionary goals.
ICP : It is necessary to distinguish: The "political united front" aimed at reformist workers' parties, that is to say, subordinated to the bourgeoisie; they must be condemned along with anti-fascist and popular fronts. The "trade union united front" aimed at unions that were then still independent and kept a class character : that is why our current supported it. Today, with the present unions, this is not possible. The "united front from below" aimed at proletarians, whether or not members of one party or another, for a precise struggle, without involving any political agreement at the top between different components; In Italy it might be the armed defence against the fascists of the headquarters of "workers'" parties and organizations, including the reformist parties. A "united front" of this type should not be rejected today.
ICK : We find this clear on the implications of rejecting the united front particularly on the question of the united front from below.
7 - All nationalist ideologies of "national independence" and the "right of peoples to self-determination, whatever their pretext -- ethnic, historical, religious, etc.. are a veritable drug for the workers . They aim at making them become party to one or another fraction of the bourgeoisie, they lead them to rise up against each other, this leads up to war.
ICP : We must distinguish between the nationalism of the oppressors and the nationalism of the oppressed. The decades of the postwar period saw the proletarians participate beside millions of peasants in the struggles against colonialism and for national independence, that is to say, for bourgeois revolutions: they were right! The proletariat cannot be disinterested in the bourgeois revolution; it cannot stand aside, as advocated by the Mensheviks in Russia: it must be involved in striving to maintain or to conquered its class independence, to try to push this revolution to the end, and if possible, if it is organized into a party, to try to take the lead in pushing for its own international revolution: tactics defined by Marx and Engels for Germany 1848-1850 and applied by the Bolsheviks in Russia.
Now the cycle of revolutionary struggles for national independence -- bourgeois revolutions -- is historically closed across the globe. But national oppressions and the struggles against these oppressions persist and will always persist under capitalism. The Communists are not indifferent vis-à-vis this oppression: they struggle against all oppressions, thus including national oppression, but by integrating them into (and subordinating them to) the proletarian class struggle, specifically the perspective of the union of the proletarians of all countries.
ICK : If we were to do a balance sheet on the effect of national ‘liberation’ struggles, anti-colonialist struggles, struggles of oppressed ‘nations’ on the proletariat of the nations in question – as well as internationally, since the second world war – we would find that in virtually every case the working class lost, or had its capacity for autonomous organization severely diminished for decades, often going so far as to destroy its ability for immediate self defense. In virtually every case, each national struggle played pawn to one or another of the imperialist powers. Support campaigns for national liberation struggles diverted a generation of proletarian militants in the postwar period from fighting on their own international class terrain. Rather than organizing globally with their class brothers and sisters, a whole layer of militants were sucked into supporting this or that liberation movement, which, once in power, would crush every vestige of workers’ autonomy, and often enough every expression of basic human rights.
8 - The working class is the only class capable of carrying out the communist revolution. The revolutionary struggle of the working class necessarily leads to a confrontation with the capitalist state. To destroy capitalism, the working class must overthrow all states and establish the dictatorship of the proletariat worldwide: the international power of workers councils, comprising the entire proletariat.
ICP : To make the revolution and to exercise its dictatorship, the proletariat needs a political party; without the party leadership, there can be neither victory of the revolution nor dictatorship of the victorious proletariat . This fundamental lesson differentiates the Marxists from the libertarians and semi-libertarians.
ICK : Building an internationalist party for our class is on the agenda, facing a capitalism bogged down in a growing international financial crisis under sustained attacks of capital against our class, and for which the only ultimate perspective for remedying its crisis, and the rise of subsequent struggles, is a global conflagration. Building an internationalist party implies opening a debate between the various forces within the political proletarian milieu. Globally, the real proletarian camp is very weak, so, for the moment – due to our small numbers – we can only try to be present where the proletariat is confronting its class enemy, by diffusing its own program – the communist program – in order to win the most conscious elements of the proletariat on its own terrain and for the communist program to take the lead in the struggles.
9 - The "self-management" and "nationalization" of the economy are not the means to overthrow capitalism because they do not attack the capitalist production relations. These are actually just forms that capitalism can take . Communism necessitates the conscious abolition, by the working class of capitalist social relations and the creation of a society without a State, without classes, without money, without national borders or professional armies.
ICP : The abolition of capitalist relations first requires a political revolution, that is to say the seizure of power by the proletariat, the destruction of the bourgeois State and the establishment of a Proletarian State, that is to say: the dictatorship of the proletariat. The Proletarian State, that dictatorship of the proletariat, is indispensable to expropriate politically and socially the old ruling class and " to neutralize" the middle classes, to eradicate gradually the capitalist mode of production. We cannot pass directly from capitalism to communism, we can not jump over this intermediate phase which will also be that of the international civil war.
ICK : Overall, we agree. However, during the pre-revolutionary or revolutionary period, organizations like the soviets or working class councils will emerge. These organizations having a dual function – the defense of workers’ interests, going so far as controlling production and its transformation, but above all, working at once on the political level to overthrow the world capitalist system and its states. This is far from those self-management organizations fronted by certain anarchists which in effect self-exploit workers in non-revolutionary periods. This is why we insist that the seizure of power and revolutionary transformation requires not only the party and a solid well-developed program, but also most importantly a fully conscious proletariat, well aware of its possibilities, its potential, as well as having the means at its disposal.
10 - A first step towards this goal is the political revolutionary organization of the proletarians with class consciousness and their union in an international political party. The role of this party will not be to take power on behalf of the working class but to participate in the unification and expansion of their struggles and their control by the workers themselves, and the dissemination of the Communist program in order to raise the proletariat to the level of being a class for itself. Only the working class in its totality, through its own autonomous bodies, such as workers' councils, can establish socialism. This task cannot be delegated, not even to the most aware classs Party....
ICP : The party is the organ without which the proletariat cannot seize and excercise power. This party has a leading, directing function in the revolutionary struggle and the exercise of power. Other forms and proletarian bodies (unions, soviets, etc..) have a secondary role in relation to this supreme body.
Only the party that is based on the historic communist program of the proletariat and which is only comprised of a minority of the class, can direct and unify the working class, that is to say, to free it from the domination of the bourgeoisie. The great mass of the proletariat will make the revolution without having a clear idea of the final goal and the way forward, etc..: It is only after the revolution, when the bourgeoisie has lost its power over society, that the great masses can access to this 'consciousness'. Marx: the proletariat revolution is necessary for it to liberate itself from all the old shit that weighs down on it. (paraphrase)
ICK : Though the Party is essential to the success of proletarian revolution, it is far from the only force playing a direct role in leading and unifying the proletariat. The councils, factory committees, and workers assemblies play the major role in unifying struggles; look at any general strike, e.g. Greece. The process of management is a dialectical relationship between the unitary bodies (councils etc), the party and non-party militants. Accounts of the Russian revolution show that, in the period immediately after the October proletarian seizure of power, all forces – whether Bolshevik, anarchist, left SR or independent – that supported the insurrection under the Bolshevik call of “All Power to the Soviets”, were often referred to as Bolshevik. The party unified more than itself under this umbrella, and was transformed by the very process. “The great mass of the proletariat will make the revolution without having a clear idea of the final goal and the way forward, etc.” This is in part true, however neither did the party itself have a clear idea of the final goal and the way forward, though it and those it regrouped around itself in Oct 1917 had the clearest understanding of what was possible in terms of the “final” goal, and was decisive in its call for Proletarian power.
We understand that much of the confusion around party and class stems from the effects of the meat grinder of the civil war, as well as the attendant problems of the isolation of the revolutionary bastion. Misunderstanding ‘keeping power’ at any cost even if it meant destroying its Revolutionary proletarian goal has cost the cause of revolutionary communism enormously.
However, the party to be built won’t have anything in common with maoist parties and their Stalinist postulate of the “socialism in one country”. China has never been a proletarian power, and the ideology of Maoism was nothing more than a means to press-gang the masses into sacrificing their interests for the benefit of national capital. Neither can the party substitute itself for the proletariat. The party is the intelligence of the proletariat, its conscience, and its intellectual guide, which leads the proletariat in a revolutionary direction by its watchwords. The lessons that the Russian Revolution exposes are the dangers inherent in a party taking in hand the reins of the economy and political life. The future proletarian internationalist party will evolve side-by-side with the political and economic mechanisms that the proletariat will put in place, without taking them over. The party will advise the proletariat by diffusing its program, by constantly struggling to insure that the new political and economic mechanisms always find their way towards communism. It’s through the development and elaboration of its conscience that the proletariat will create the material transition towards communism. This way, the party will be able to see far more clearly which direction to take since it won’t be in conflict with itself holding power, as Lenin and the Bolsheviks found themselves.
11 - Revolutionary practice leaves no room for attitudes of sectarianism and isolationism. Our ideas must be heard within our class. We place upon ourselves the mandate to intervene as often as possible, according to our real strength, in the various struggles of our class, to share and participate in the clarification of the proletarian program, and the building ofmthe revolutionary party.
ICP : The Communists are involved in the struggles and the life of the proletariat, but not to clarify the program! The party's platform, Marxism, is the summation of the great struggles and class historical experiences of the proletariat, not the limited and contingent skirmishes of today! This program is the most valuable weapon of the proletariat, it cannot be subjected to democratic discussion and perpetual revision according to the passing suggestions of the moment, all the more so when the counter-revolutionary influence of the bourgeoisie so crushingly dominates the proletariat itself! This program must be understood, assimilated and intransigently defended by militants who want to place themselves on the terrain of the revolutionary proletariat and contribute to its resurgence. It is a difficult goal to achieve because it requires breaking with all the prejudices and ideology inculcated by the multifaceted and ultra-powerful bourgeois propaganda apparatus . But it is what must necessarily be done before wanting to make one's "ideas" heard by the proletarians and to make them “conscious”.
ICK : “This program is the most valuable weapon of the proletariat, it cannot be subjected to democratic discussion and perpetual revision according to the passing suggestions of the moment, all the more so when the counter-revolutionary influence of the bourgeoisie so crushingly dominates the proletariat itself!”
While it’s true that the party platform should not be modified simply as a result of ‘the contingent skirmishes of today!’ It’s not like trying on a new pair of shoes every week. The minuscule numbers of the communist left leave us with a big question as far as accepting this notion of the invariability of platform. The most important being that the international proletarian revolution, as you know, is not simply a question of platform, or party, or councils, or the conjunctural or periodic objective conditions by themselves.
As all these factors come to the fore in today’s emergent class struggle, the platform must expand, develop, and clarify in order to be a vibrant, living part of the revolutionary process. “Breaking with all the prejudices and ideology inculcated by the multifaceted and ultra-powerful bourgeois propaganda apparatus” requires the conscious capacity of the proletariat to analyze, debate, disprove and demolish capital’s ideological stranglehold. Of course, most of what we’re discussing here represents certain fundamentals. But, substantial as they are, they’re not the final word.