Thursday, December 27, 2012

The organisation of the proletariat outside periods of open struggle (workers' groups, nuclei, circles, committees)

Internationalist Communists Klasbatalo have no organizational links with the International Communist Current and don’t share all of their political positions. We reproduce this text because we agree with it. The text mentions committees, circles, groups, etc. We could also put Autonomous popular Assembly of District or city.

Internationalist Communists Klasbatalo  (ICK)


The organisation of the proletariat outside periods of open struggle (workers' groups, nuclei, circles, committees)

(This text was adopted by the 3rd Congress of Internationalisme, the ICC's section in Belgium, February 1980.)

What is to be done outside times of open struggle? How should we organise when the strike is finished? How to prepare the struggles to come?

Faced with this question, faced with the problems posed by the existence of committees, circles, nuclei, etc, regrouping small minorities of the working class, we have no recipes to provide. We cannot choose between giving them moral lessons (‘organise yourselves like this or that’, ‘dissolve yourselves’, ‘join us’) and demagogically flattering them. Instead, our concern is this: to understand these minority expressions of the proletariat as a part of the whole class. If we situate them in the general movement of the class struggle; if we see that they are strictly linked to the strengths and weaknesses of different periods in this struggle between the classes, then, in this way, we’ll be able to understand to what general necessity they are a response. By neither remaining politically imprecise in relation to them, nor by imprisoning ourselves inside rigid schemas, we’ll also be able to grasp what their positive aspects are and be able to point out what dangers lie in wait for them.

Characteristics of the workers struggle in decadent capitalism

Our first concern in understanding this problem must be to recall the general, historical context within which we find ourselves. We must remember the nature of this historic period (the period of social revolutions) and the characteristics of the class struggle in decadence. This analysis is fundamental because it allows us to understand the type of class organisation that can exist in such a period.

Without going into all the details, let’s recall simply that the proletariat in the nineteenth century existed as an organised force in a permanent way. The proletariat unified itself as a class through an economic and political struggle for reforms. The progressive character of the cap­italist system allowed the proletariat to bring pressure to bear on the bourgeoisie in order to obtain reforms, and for this, large masses of the working class regrouped within unions and parties.

In the period of capitalism’s senility, the char­acteristics and the forms of organisation of the class changed. A quasi-permanent mobilisation of the proletariat around its immediate and political interests was no longer possible, nor viable. Henceforward, the permanent unitary organs of the class were no longer able to exist except in the course of the struggle itself. From this time on, the function of these unitary organs could no longer be limited to simply ‘negotiating’ an improvement in the proletariat’s living conditions (because an improvement was no longer possible over the long term and because the only realistic answer was that of revolution). Their task was to prepare for the seizure of power.

The unitary organs of the dictatorship of the proletariat are the workers’ councils. These organs possess a certain number of characteristics which we must make clear if we are to grasp the entire process which leads to the self-organisation of the proletariat.

Thus, we must clearly show that the councils are a direct expression of working class struggle. They arise in a spontaneous (but not mechanical) way from out of this struggle. This is why they are intimately tied to the development and maturity of the struggle. They draw from it their substance and their vitality. They don’t constitute, then, a simple ‘delegation’ of power, a parody of Parl­iament, but are truly the organised expression of the whole working class and its power. Their task isn’t to organise a proportional representation of social groupings, or political parties, but allow the will of the proletariat to realise itself practically. It’s through them that all the decisions are taken. That is the reason why the workers must constantly keep control of them (the revocability of delegates) by means of the General Assemblies.

Only the workers’ councils are capable of realising the living identification between the immediate struggle and the final goal. In this liaison between the struggle for immediate interests and the struggle for political power, the councils establish the objective and subjective basis for the revolution. They constitute, par excellence, the crucible of class consciousness. The constitution of the proletariat in councils is not then a simple question of a form of organisation, but is the product of the development of the struggle and of class consciousness. The appearance of the councils isn’t the fruit of organisational recipes, of prefabricated structures, of intermediate organs.

The more and more conscious extension and centralisation of struggles, beyond the factories and beyond frontiers, cannot be artificial, voluntarist action. To be convinced of the correction of this idea, it’s sufficient to recall the experience of the AAUD and its artificial attempt to unite and centralise the ‘factory organisations’ in a period when the struggle was in reflux. [1]

The Councils can only continue to exist when the permanent, open struggle continues to exist, signifying the participation of an ever-growing number of workers in the struggle. Their appearance is essentially a function of the development of the struggle itself and of the development of class consciousness.

The attempts to bridge a gap

But we are not yet in a period of permanent struggle, in a revolutionary context which would allow the proletariat to organise itself in workers’ councils. The constitution of the proletariat in councils is the result of objective conditions (the depth of the crisis, the historic course) and subjective conditions (the maturity of the struggle and the consciousness of the class). It is the result of an entire apprenticeship, a whole maturation, which is as much organisational as it is political.

We must be conscious that this maturation, this political fermentation, doesn’t unfold in a well-designated straight line. It expresses itself instead as a fiery, impetuous, confused process within a jostling, jerky movement. It demands the active participation of revolutionary minorities.

Since it is incapable of acting mechanically in accordance with abstract principles, preconceived plans or voluntarist schemes detached from reality, the proletariat must forge its unity and consciousness by means of a painful apprenticeship. Incapable of regrouping all its forces on a preordained day, it consolidates its ranks in the course of the battle itself. It forms its ‘army’ within the conflict itself. But in the course of the struggle it forms in its ranks more combative elements, a more determined vanguard. These elements don’t necessarily regroup themselves within the revolutionary organisation (because, in certain periods, it is virtually unknown). The appearance of these combative minorities within the proletariat, whether before or after open struggles, isn’t an incomprehensible or new phenomenon. It really expresses the irregular character of the struggle, the unequal and heterogeneous development of class consciousness. Thus, since the end of the 1960’s, we’ve witnessed, at one and the same time, the development of the struggle (in the sense of its greater self-organisation), a reinforcement of revolutionary minorities, and the appearance of committees, nuclei, circles, etc, trying to regroup a working class avant-garde. The develop­ment of a coherent political pole of regroupment, and the tendency for the proletariat to try to organise itself outside the unions, both issue from the same maturation of the struggle.

The appearance of these committees, circles, etc, truly responds to a necessity within the struggle. If some combative elements sense the need to remain grouped together after they’ve been struggling together, they do so with the aim of simultaneously continuing to ‘act together’ (the eventual preparation of a new strike) and of drawing the lessons of the struggle (through political discussion). The problem which poses itself to these workers is as much one of regrouping with a view to future action as it is of regrouping with a view to clarifying questions posed by the past struggle and the struggle to come. This attitude is understandable in the sense that the absence of permanent struggle the ‘bankruptcy’ of the unions, and the very great weakness of revolutionary organisations creates an organisational and political void. When the work­ing class returns to the path of its historic struggle, it has a horror of this void. Therefore, it seeks to reply to the need posed by this organisational and political void.

These committees, these nuclei, these proletarian minorities who still don’t understand clearly their own function, are a response to this need. They are, at one and the same time, an expression of the general weakness of today’s class struggle and an expression of the maturation of the organisation of the class. They are a crystallisation of a whole subterranean development at work within the proletariat.

The reflux of 1973-77

That is why we must be careful not to lock away these organs in a hermetic, rigidly classified drawer. We cannot forecast their appearance and development in a totally precise way. Furthermore, we must be careful not to make artificial separations in the different moments in the life of these committees, getting ourselves caught in the false dilemma: ‘action or discussion’.

This said, it must not stop us from making an intervention towards these organs. We must also be capable of appreciating their evolution in terms of the period, depending on whether we are in a phase of renewal or reflux in the struggle. Because they are a spontaneous, immediate product of the struggle, and because the appearance of these nuclei is based mainly on conjunctural problems (in distinction to the revolutionary organisation which appears on the basis of the historical necessities of the proletariat), this means that they remain very dependent on the surrounding milieu of the class struggle. They remain more strongly imprisoned by the general weaknesses of the movement and have a tendency to follow the ups and downs of the struggle.

We must make a distinction in the development of these nuclei between the period of reflux in the struggle (1973-77) and today’s period of renewed class struggle internationally. While underlining the fact that the dangers threatening them remain identical in both periods, we must, nonetheless, be capable of grasping what differences the change in period implies for their evolution.

At the end of the first wave of struggle at the end of the 1960’s, we witnessed the appearance of a whole series of confusions within the working class. We could measure the extent of these confusions by examining the attitude of some of the combative elements of the class, who tried to remain regrouped.

We saw develop:

the illusion in fighting unionism and the distrust of anything political (OHK, AAH, Komiteewerking [2] ). In many cases, the committees that came out of struggles transformed themselves, categorically, into semi-unions. This was the case for the workers’ commissions in Spain and the ‘factory councils’ in Italy. Even more often they just disappeared.

- a very strong corporatism (which itself constitutes the basis for the illusion in ‘fighting union­ism’).

- when attempts were made to go beyond the limits of the factory, the result was confusion and a great political eclecticism.

- a very great political confusion was present, rendering these organs very vulnerable to the manoeuvres of the leftists, and also allowing them to fall prey to illusions of the type held by the PIC (cf. their ‘bluff’ about workers’ groups)[3]. Also, in the course of this period, the ideology of ‘workers autonomy’ developed, bringing with it an apology for immediatism, factoryism and economism.

All of these weaknesses were essentially a function of the weaknesses of the first wave of struggle at the end of the 60’s. This movement was characterised by a disproportion between the strength and extension of the strikes and the weakness in the content of the demands made. What especially indicated this disproportion was the absence of any clear, political perspective in the movement. The falling-back of the workers, which happened between 1973 and 1977, was a product of this weak­ness, which the bourgeoisie utilised to demobilise and ideologically contain the struggles. Each of the weak points of the first wave of strikes was ‘recuperated’ by the bourgeoisie to its own profit:

Thus the idea of a permanent organisation of the class, at one and the same time economic and political, was transformed later into the idea of ‘new unions’ to end finally in a return to classical trade unionism. The vision of the General Assembly as a form independent of any content ended up — via the mystification concerning direct democracy and popular power – re-establishing trust in classical bourgeois democracy. Ideas about self-management and workers’ control of production (confusions which were understandable at the beginning) were theorised into the myth of ‘generalised self-management’, ‘islands of communism’ or ‘nationalisation under workers’ control’. All this caused the workers to put their confidence in plans to restructure the economy, which would supposedly avoid layoffs or caused them to back national solidarity pacts presented as a way of ‘getting out of the crisis”.

(Report on the Class Struggle presented to the IIIrd International Congress of the ICC).

The renewal of struggles since 1977

With the renewal in struggle since 1977, we have seen other tendencies delineate themselves. The proletariat matured through its ‘defeat’. It had drawn albeit in a confused way, the lessons of the reflux, and even if the dangers represented by ‘fighting unionism’, corporatism, etc remain, they exist within a different general evolution in the struggle.

Since 1977, we have seen the hesitant development of:

- a more or less marked will on the part of the avant-garde of combative workers to develop political discussion (remember the General Assembly of Co-ordinamenti in Turin, the debate at Antwerp with the workers of Rotterdam, Antwerp, etc, the conference of dockers in Barcelona. [4]);

- the will to enlarge the field of struggle, to go beyond the ghetto of factoryism, to give a more global political framework to the struggle. This will expressed itself through the appearance of the ‘co—ordinamenti’, and more specifically in the political manifesto produced by one of the co-ordinamenti situated in the North of Italy (Sesto S. Giovanni). This manifesto demanded the unification of the combative avant-garde in the factories, spelt out the necessity for a politically independent struggle by the workers and insisted on the necessity for the struggle to break out of factory limitations;

- the concern to establish a link between the immediate aspect of the struggle and the final goal. This concern was particularly expressed in workers groups in Italy (FIAT) and in Spain (FEYCU, FORD). The first of these groups intervened by means of a leaflet to denounce the dangers of layoffs made by the bourgeoisie in the name of ‘fighting terrorism’, and the second intervened to denounce the illusion of parliamentarism.

- the concern to better prepare and organise the struggles to come (cf. the action of the ‘spokesmen’ group of dockers in Rotterdam calling for the formation of a General Assembly).

We must repeat that the dangers of corporatism, ‘fighting unionism’ and locking-up of the struggle on a strictly economic terrain continue to exist even within this period. But what we must take into account is the important influence of the period on the evolution of the committees and nuclei that appear both before and after open struggles. When the period is one of combativity and resurgence of class struggle, the intervention of such minorities takes on a different sense, as does our attitude toward them. In a period of generalised reflux in the struggle, we have to insist more on the danger of these organs becoming transformed into semi-unions, of falling into the clutches of the leftists, of having illusions in terrorism, etc. In a period of class resurgence we insist more on the dangers represented by voluntarism and activism (see the illusions expressed in this connection in the manifesto of the co-ordinamenti of Sesto S. Giovanni), and by the illusion which some of these combative workers may have about the possibility of forming the embryos of future strike committees, etc. In a period of renewal in the struggle, we will also be more open to combative minorities which appear and regroup with a view to calling for strikes and the formation of strike committees, General Assemblies, etc.

The possibilities of these organs

The concern to situate the committees, nuclei, etc, in the cauldron of the class struggle, to understand them in terms of the period in which they appear, doesn’t imply, however, abruptly changing our analysis in the wake of the different stages in the class struggle. Whatever the mo5ent that gives birth to these committees, we know that they constitute only one stage in a dynamic, general process they are one moment in the maturation of the organisation and consciousness of the class. They can only have a positive role when they give themselves a broad, supple framework to work within, in order not to freeze the general process. This is why these organs must be vigilant if they are to avoid falling into the following traps:

- imagining that they constitute a structure which can prepare the way for the appearance of strike committees or councils;

- imagining themselves to be invested with a sort of ‘potentiality’ which can develop future struggles. (It isn’t the minorities who artificially create a strike or cause a General Assembly or a committee to appear, even though they do have an active intervention to make in this process).

- giving themselves a platform or statutes or anything else that risks freezing their evolution and thus condemning them to political confusion.

- presenting themselves as intermediate organs, half-way between the class and a political organisation, as if they were an organisation that is at one and the same time unitary and political.

This is why our attitude towards these minority organs remains open, but at the same time tries to influence the evolution of political reflection in their midst, and this whatever the period in which we find ourselves. We must try our hardest to ensure that these committees, nuclei, etc. don’t freeze up, either in one direction (a structure which imagines itself to prefigure the workers’ councils) or another (political fixation). Before all else, what must guide us in our intervention is not the interests and the conjunctural concerns of these organs (since we can’t suggest to them any organisational recipes nor any ready-made answers), but the general interests of the whole class. Our concern is always to homogenise and develop class consciousness in such a way that the development of the class struggle happens with a greater, more massive participation of all workers, and that the struggle is taken in-hand by the workers themselves and not by a minority, no matter what type it may be. It is for this reason that we insist on the dynamic of the movement and that we put the combative elements on their guard against any attempt at substitutionism or anything that might block the later development of the struggle and of class consciousness.

In orientating the evolution of these organs in one direction (reflection and political discussion), rather than another, we can give a response which will be favourable to the dynamic of the movement. But let it be well-understood that this doesn’t signify that we condemn any form of ‘intervention’ or ‘action’ undertaken by these organs. It is obvious that the instant a group of combative workers understands that the task isn’t to act to constitute themselves as a semi-union, but rather to draw the political lessons of the past struggles, this doesn’t imply that their political reflection is going to happen in an ethereal vacuum, in the abstract, without any-practical consequences. The political clarification undertaken by these combative workers will also push them to act together within their own factory (and in the most positive of cases, even outside their own factory). They will feel the necessity to give a material, political expression to their political reflection (leaflets, newspapers, etc). They will feel the need to take up positions in relation to the concrete issues that face the working class. In order to defend and disseminate their positions, they will thus have to make a concrete intervention. In certain circumstances they will propose concrete means of action (formation of General Assemblies, strike committees…) to advance the struggle. In the course of the struggle itself, they will sense the necessity for a concerted effort to develop a certain orientation for the struggle; they will support demands that will permit the struggle to extend itself and they will insist on the necessity for its enlargement, generalisation, etc.

Even though we remain attentive to these efforts and don’t try to lay down rigid schemas for them to follow, nonetheless it is clear that we must continue to insist on the fact that what counts the most is the active participation of all the workers in the struggle, and that the combative workers should at no time substitute themselves for their comrades in the organisation and co-ordination of the strike. Moreover, it is also clear that the more the organisation of revolutionaries increases its influence within the struggles, the more the combative elements will turn toward it. Not because the organisation will have a policy of forcibly recruiting these elements, but quite simply because the combative workers themselves will become conscious that a political intervention, which is really active and effective, can only be made in the framework of such an international organisation.

The intervention of revolutionaries

All that glitters isn’t gold. To point out that the working class in its struggle can cause more combative elements to appear doesn’t mean affirming that the impact of these minorities is decisive for the later development of class consciousness. We must not make this absolute identification: an expression of the maturation of consciousness = an active factor in its development.

In reality the influence which these nuclei can have in the later unfolding of the struggle is very limited. Their influence entirely depends on the general combativity of the proletariat and of the capacity of these nuclei to pursue without let-up this work of political clarification. In the long-term, this work cannot be followed except within the framework of a revolutionary organisation.

But here again, we’ve no mechanism to drop in place. It’s not in an artificial manner that the revolutionary organisation wins these elements. Contrary to the ideas of organisations like Battaglia Communista or the PIC, the ICC does not seek to fill-in, in an artificial, voluntarist manner, ‘the gap’ between the party and the class. Our understanding of the working class as a historic force, and our comprehension of our own role prevents us from wanting to freeze these committees into the form of an intermediate structure. Nor do we seek to create ‘factory groups’ as transmission belts between the class and the party.

This presents us with the question of determining what our attitude to such circles, committees, etc should be. Even while recognising their limited influence and their weaknesses, we must remain open to them and attentive to their appearance. The most important thing that we propose to them is that they open up widely to discussions. At no time, do we adopt toward them a distrustful or condemnatory attitude under the pretext of reacting against their political ‘impurity’. So that’s one thing we should avoid; another is to avoid flattering them or even uniquely concentrating our energies on them. We mustn’t ignore workers’ groups, but equally we mustn’t become obsessive about them. We recognise that the struggle matures and class-consciousness develops in a process.

Within this process, tendencies exist within the class that attempt to ‘hoist’ the struggle onto a political terrain. In the course of this process, we know that the proletariat will give rise to combative minorities within itself, but they won’t necessarily organise themselves within political organisations. We must be careful not to identify this process of maturation in the class today with what characterised the development of the struggle last century. This understanding is very important because it permits us to appreciate in what way these committees, circles, etc are a real expression of the maturation of class consciousness, but an expression which is, above all, temporary and ephemeral and not a fixed, structured organisational rung in the development of the class struggle. The class struggle in the period of capitalist decadence advances explosively. Sudden eruptions appear which surprise even those elements who were the most combative in the proceeding round of struggle, and these eruptions can immediately go beyond previous experience in terms of the consciousness and maturity developed in the new struggle. The proletariat can only really organise itself on a unitary level within the struggle. To the extent that the struggle itself becomes permanent, it causes the unitary organisations of the class to grow and become stronger.

This understanding is what allows us to grasp why we don’t have a specific policy, a special ‘tactic’ in relation to workers’ committees, even though in; certain circumstances it can be very positive for us to begin and systematically continue discussions with them, and to participate in their meetings. We know that it is possible and increasingly easy to discuss with these combative elements (particularly when open struggle isn’t taking place). We are also aware that certain of these elements may want to join us, but we don’t focus all our attention on them. Because what is of primary importance for us, is the general dynamic of the struggle, and we don’t set up any rigid classifications or hierarchies within this dynamic. Before everything, we address ourselves to the working class as a whole. Contrary to other political groups who try to surmount the problem of the lack of influence of revolutionary minorities in the class by artificial methods and by feeding themselves on illusions about these workers’ groups, the ICC recognises that it has very little impact in the present period. We don’t try to increase our influence among the workers by giving them artificial ‘confidence’ in us. We aren’t workerist, nor are we megalomaniacs. The influence which we will progressively develop within the struggles will come essentially from our political practice inside these struggles and not from our acting as toadies, or flatterers, or as ‘water-carriers’ who restrict themselves to performing technical tasks. Furthermore, we address our political intervention to all the workers, to the proletariat taken as a whole, as a class, because our fundamental task is to call for the maximum extension of the struggles. We don’t exist in order to feel satisfied at winning the confidence of two or three horny-handed worker but to homogenise and accelerate the development of the consciousness of the class. It’s necessary to be aware that it will only be in the revolutionary process itself that the proletariat will accord us its political ‘confidence’ to the extent that it realises that the revolutionary party really makes up a part of its historic struggle.

[1] AAUD: Allgemeine Arbeiter Union Deutschlands, ‘General Workers Union of Germany’. The ‘Unions’ weren’t trade unions, but attempts to create permanent forms of organisation regrouping all the workers outside and against the unions, in Germany in the years following the crushing of the 1919 Berlin insurrection. They expressed nostalgia for the workers councils, but never succeeded in carrying out the function of the councils.
[2] These were all workers groups in Belgium.
[3] The French group PIC (Pour Une Intervention Communiste) was for several months convinced - and tried to convince everyone else - that it was participating in the development of a network of ‘workers groups’ which would constitute a powerful avant-garde of the revolutionary movement. They based this illusion on the skeletal reality of two or three groups largely made-up of ex-leftist elements. There’s not much left of this bluff today.
[4] These are organised meetings regrouping delegates from different workers groups, collectives and committees.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Historical Perspective of « Communism » is the Key of the Proletariat's Present Struggles

Fraction of the International Communist Left has published its bulletin #9 of August 15, 2012 We publish the article below with which we are totally in agreement.

Internationalist Communists – Klasbatalo

Warning : the translations into English we do, are made by comrades whose knowledge of this language is very relative.
Thus, besides the lack of easiness for the reading, our English texts may present some mistakes and confusions which aren't political but "technical". One can refer to the French version.

The Historical Perspective of « Communism » is the Key of the Proletariat's Present Struggles

Forced to mention the workers mobilization around the struggle of the Spanish miners – they could not ignore them unless risking to discredit themselves – , the bourgeois media hasten to silence again on this event after the miners' demonstration in Madrid (July 11th) taking advantage the holidays summer period and the Olympic Games. The censorship that the international media exert over the workers reactions to the crisis is an illustration of the threat that the dynamic of international workers struggles represents for the capitalist order and which particularly runs through Europe. After Greece, it is thus the turn of the Iberian Peninsula, in Spain, in Portugal, where the proletariat is obliged to attempt to react in front of the conditions of living which are now imposed on it. And the silence exerted by the ruling class, doesn't change anything to the reality of the various workers responses of this summer.

After Greece, the workers mobilization around the Asturian miners' struggle tended to focus the attention of the international proletariat and has embodied a centre of agitation in Spain for all workers. The massive participation of the workers population of Madrid to the “Marcha negra” [the “Black March”] of the miners as well as the warm reception they received in the whole country, reveal the fact that all Spanish workers tended to identify with this fight and were conscious of the need for a united response of all sectors and all regions to face the State. The use of a class violence to defend itself in front of the bourgeois repression, the attempts to paralyse the functioning of the State and the capitalist economy through the blockage of transportations and the occupation of the cities of the mine region, has shown to all the path to follow and it is precisely in this that the whole Spanish proletariat recognizes itself. Also, this mobilization of an “historical” sector of the working class, with a “tradition” of decades of struggles whether under the Spanish Republic in the years 1930 as well as under Franco's dictatorship in the following years, has definitively shown the “limits” of the famous movement of the “indignados” [“indignous”, the Spanish version, and first one, of the “Occupy Wall Street” movements] and, actually, the example-trap that it represented for the proletariat's struggle. The miners of the Asturias recalled to everybody that the fight against the capitalist attacks due to the crisis is not a fight of “citizens” for a better democracy, but well and truly a fight of an exploited class against another ruling and exploiter class whether it is “democratic” or no.

For this, the miners' struggle and the mobilization it has led to in the whole country, is an example to follow, a path to take back in all countries.

Nevertheless, we must also note that this mobilization – up to today, the miners have globally stop their strike without having get something and the austerity measures carry on falling on the Spanish working class – has not emerged on a raising of the class fight against the bourgeoisie and its State up to shake the latter and oblige it, at least momentarily, to withdraw its economical attacks.

Why the workers anger which is real, generalized, why the willingness for fighting, the feeling we must struggle altogether, have not succeeded to modify significantly the relation of forces between the classes ? The workers demonstration in Madrid, despite its success and the reinforcements of the workers population of the Spanish capital, has finished into an impasse and a kind of an end – at least for the moment. Why ? Is this due to the fact the unions have kept the control over the workers mobilization, over the organization of the March to Madrid, over the slogans and the demands – often regionalist and corporatist ? Due to the fact they have also partly succeeded in turning back against the workers the use of self-defence in front of repression by making it a myth and a goal in itself, thus limiting at the maximum any risk of real extension and generalization of the movement ? Indeed, the unions and the Left political forces have played a role and made all they could to enclose the workers into their specificities of “miners” and in the “save our region” - and unfortunately no communist group could, or didn't want(Note 1), intervene and oppose besides the workers to the unions dead-ends and sabotages ; none could advance alternative slogans and alternative perspectives of action. But this is not enough to explain the limits of the present workers struggles – since the limits of the mobilization in Spain are more or less the same as the ones the international proletariat faces almost everywhere.

Why the role of the bourgeoisie's agents in the workers ranks as the unions, the Left parties and the leftists, and their action are not enough to explain that the working class doesn't succeed up to now to rise its struggle at the level which is required by the situation (gravity of the capitalist crisis and the attacks) ? While never in capitalism history – we do weigh our words – the objective conditions have so much favoured the evolution of the relation of forces between the classes in favour of the proletariat. Never in capitalism history, the bourgeoisie had to attack the proletariat with such a strength– we only are at its beginnings – and with such a frontal manner, in all countries and in all sectors, at the same time, while the whole working class – though suffering the ceaseless false plugging of bourgeois ideology – remains far from supporting the great nationalist, democratic, anti-terrorist, anti-fascist or other themes of this ideology.

These frontal and massive attacks aren't but beginning and are even going to increase, not only because the economical crisis is insolvable from the capitalist oint of view but also precisely because the bourgeoisie has no other choice than to press that the whole society mobilizes and compromises in a new generalized imperialist war. This other “historical perspective”, the one “offered” by the bourgeoisie, implies even before its starting new and terrible sacrifices. But, up to today, and contrary to 1914 and 1939, the working class is not ready to accept and to adhere to this march towards generalized war. Thus, while the objective historical conditions (the more and more obvious bankruptcy of capitalism, the historical weakening of the ruling class...) have never been so favourable, we repeat it, why the proletariat is it still unable to take advantage of this situation in order to turn the situation in its own favour ? Why, whereas its illusions about capitalism and bourgeois democracy are falling down under the strikes of the attacks by the bourgeois States ? What is it missing ? What does it suffer of ?

The essential weakness of the international proletariat – the workers struggles in Greece and now in Spain demonstrate it – lies at the level of its class consciousness, at the level of the extent and the deepness of this one in its ranks. At the very moment it regains, in its masses, the consciousness that it is a single and same class, it carries on suffering the huge and deep impact of the anti-communism campaigns which have above all followed the collapse of stalinism and which rely on the false assimilation of genuine communism to the stalinist dictatorship and to the USSR. Since, with its campaigns ceaseless dealt out, the bourgeoisie does all it can to make us believe that “communism is dead” and above all that there is no alternative to capitalism.

One fact is significant and goes beyond a simple detail : the images of the massive demonstration in Madrid show a flowering of regionalist or unionist banners but no red flags – what ever is their utilization by the leftists. This a particular illustration of the fact that consciousness, as diffuse and confuse it can be in the workers ranks, that another society is possible and that capitalism has to be destroyed, is particularly reduced and in great part lacking in the workers mobilization. Inevitably, this has a negative impact for the development (in extension, in unity and in deepness) of the workers fights of today. Without this historical perspective whether it be more or less clear and present in the class, the proletariat's struggle can't rise up to what the situation requires. Without historical perspective, it is deeply weakened up to the very level of its immediate and daily struggles which have no chance to make the bourgeoisie withdraws – in particular today when the capitalist system is bankrupted. Since the need for paralysing the bourgeoisie and its State power, it means to confront it politically and to dispute it its power, loses its foundation without the consciousness that the proletariat is a class whose future is to overthrow capitalism, make disappear the classes and set up communism through the exercise of its own class power.

It is all the difficulty of the class fights of today as well as their limit. This weakness also expresses itself at the level of the proletariat's political vanguard in particular through the absence of influence of the living communist minorities. Of course, the groups and organizations which claim communism, define themselves according to this perspective. Nevertheless they have also suffered from the post-1989 anti-communist campaigns. In particular, political opportunism have exerted ravages in their ranks as illustrates it the example of the catastrophic political drift of the ICC(Note 2) which openly manifested since 2001. Besides this, sectarianism carries on hitting the existing groups and weaken their difficulty to assume the tasks of political confrontations and debates in order to favour the indispensable regroupment of forces.

In that sense, the fact that various individuals and circles, often stemming from... the ICC, take over the anti-communist campaigns of the bourgeoisie adding their contribution and their “supposed” authority on the subject for having been militant in the ranks of the Communist Left during decades, comes also to weaken directly the communist camp and its organizations. 

All this implies that the great proletarian masses, with the determined support of their most conscious and most militant minorities which are the communist political groups, must regain the perspective of the proletarian revolution and of communism. This way passes through the return to the workers and communist generations of the past ; for the whole international proletariat, it passes through taking back the path of the workers fights free from the democratic lies and illusions ; for the organized communist minorities, besides their decided intervention in the workers struggles to which they can participate, it passes through the defence of the workers experiences of the past, and all specially the defence of the 1917 Russian Revolution, of the workers insurrection, of the exercise of the proletarian dictatorship ; the defence of the bolshevik party of Lenin that the bourgeoisie strives to soil. For the great workers masses, the return in the consciousnesses of the revolutionary perspective will arm and will make more efficient the immediate fights which, in return, will increasingly precise and strengthen this perspective. From possible, these fights will make it a material necessity. For the political vanguard, defending the “communist program” within the working class, it is putting forward the legacy of the past, it is to tie up again with the threads of the previous generations of revolutionaries. This will favour their confidence and determination for their leading and dynamic role of political vanguard and thus will go towards giving the influence upon the great workers masses that it belongs to them.

There are not two different class struggles of the working class, an economic and a political one, but only one class struggle, which aims at one and the same time at the limitation of capitalist exploitation within bourgeois society, and at the abolition of exploitation together with bourgeois society itself “ (Rosa Luxemburg, The Mass Strike, 1906).
August 2012.

1. The intervention of the ICC has been conspicuous by its absence in a first time, and then, after much delay, by its content worthy of the “indignados” and anarchist ideology according to which “one must change himself” ! See our following text in this issue.
2. We refer the reader to the summaries of our bulletins and the ones of the ex-Internal Fraction of the ICC for the study of this catastrophic opportunist drift of this organization which once was our organization (

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The miners of the Asturias (Spain) refuse the capitalist rules . As in Greece, these proletarians do not hesitate to confront the policemen, these defenders of the bourgeois state.
Confrontation between miners and policemen
Spanish Miners Battle Police Over Austerity
See also an article from our comrades of the Fraction of the International Communist Left.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

General strike or electoral circus

The student struggle against tuition increases has taken a new turn following the adoption of matraque law 78.  Recall that before being used against the student movement, this law was especially aimed at the working class, threatening any demonstration of over 50 people with heavy fines. --Leaving it to the police to decide whether or not the demonstration is legal, if they’ll accept the route or not. This law is not only an attack on the students, but on the working class as a whole. This is bourgeois ‘democracy’ for you, and this sort of law is not unique to Quebec. Faced with capitalism in crisis, several ‘democracies’ have passed similar laws or are in the process of doing so. In 2001, under the pretext of the ‘war on terror’, several states passed counter-terrorism laws, which in practice, attack working class struggles. In 2005, for instance, striking New York subway workers faced charges of terrorism. Recently a score of Montreal students were accused under a similar law passed by the federal government in 2001.

The struggle against rising tuition is spreading elsewhere in Canada, as well. Students have held actions in Ottawa and Toronto, with other groups spread across several provinces preparing to join them. A day of action took place June 5th, with a demonstration in Toronto, as well as other Ontario cities.  BC students, as well, have declared solidarity with those in Quebec, condemning bill 78. Demonstrations in solidarity against this bill have been held in Ottawa, Toronto, Paris, Cannes, New York, London and Chile. This is no longer just a struggle against the rising cost of tuition. Since May 21, workers, unemployed, students and pensioners have been banging on pots and pans every evening at 8 o’clock, and great numbers of people are out in the streets to demonstrate that they’re fed up with bill 78, the mass arrests, police brutality, government corruption and austerity measures. We’ve lost count of the number of cities and towns participating in these nightly casserole demonstrations, and these as well are spreading throughout other Canadian provinces. This struggle is part of an international struggle against capitalism in crisis. It’s linked with that of workers in Greece, Spain, Portugal, China, India, France, the UK, the US and other parts of the world.

Although the casserole demonstrations are intended as an expression of outrage against state policies, one might question the outcome. Speaking at a Montreal business conference, Finance Minister Raymond Bachand, himself, welcomed these demonstrations as a creative and festive means of voicing an opinion without hurting the city’s tourist industry. As in the rest of the world, the bourgeoisie tries to divert struggle by persuading workers to vote in coming elections, in 6 months, a year, two years… At heart, this is what matters most to the unions and all political parties: Québec Solidaire, Parti Québécois, the Liberals, the CAQ and others, diverting all activity into the electoral circus. Elections are by no means an expression of “popular will”.  The election of this or that political party is determined by the interests of  big capital of which the bourgeois state is a servant. Elections are useless to the working class. It’s a terrain in which it has no real place, except when it comes time to marking an X every four years to elect the usual bourgeois, such as Charest, Marois, David, Khadir, Legault, etc. They’d have us believe that the ballot can help to “make change”. They perpetuate the illusion of democracy, in which all “citizens” are equal and the state is neutral.

While the Liberals and the CAQ are well known for openly serving the interests of large capitalist enterprise, others are nastier in a sense, more insidious, as is the case with Parti Quebecois nationalists and Québec Solidaire. While they denounce the implementaion of rightwing policies by the Liberals with matraque law 78, they insist that the government’s policies would “go against common Quebecois values”  No no such ‘common values’ exist. What typical nationalist, petty-bourgeois language, propagating illusions of capitalism’s “human face”, while failing to mention the working class and its struggle. Capitalism is bankrupt and for its survival it’s carrying out the same attacks everywhere: raising energy prices, attacking pensions, increasing tuition, creating new taxes, eliminating thousands of jobs in the public sector, cutting unemployment benefits, on top of massive factory closures.

The strength of the working class whose exploitation sustains bourgeois society, is in its collective action, led and organized on the basis of class. Only the working class, in resisting and abolishing this rotten system, will change society. Working class struggles in Greece, Spain, Portugal, China, India, France, UK, USA, in Chile and other parts of the world are forcing bourgeois factions to unite against the working class. Hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of demonstrators around the world are refusing austerity. The lying media is censoring these struggles in an effort to prevent the rise of international solidarity. The struggle of Quebec’s students and working class is not isolated.

Workers, the unemployed, students, pensioners, we’ve got to stop going along with our fake trade union friends and politicians, such as those from QS, who are simply interested in reforming capitalism. We have to quit begging the bourgeois state through petitions and votes. We must take control of the struggle from them. Otherwise, they will divert our struggles to the parliamentary circus or into negociation of our level of exploitation.

A general strike, is what we need to expand the struggle, as our brothers and sisters, the working class from Greece and Spain, have shown. They set an example for us by uniting more and more broadly in spite of nationalism and union corporatism, by rejecting politicians, and attacking the bourgeois state machine as a whole. For example, the Greek working class besieged parliament when it approved the measures demanded by the European capitalists. It’s the capitalists who are responsible for this crisis. It’s not for the working class to pay. A single slogan: unite with the working class of Greece and Spain through general strike.

Yes for a general strike! No to the electoral circus!

To end this barbaric system, we need a new society. A society intent on production to meet real human needs as opposed to a society bent on production for profit. A society in which the means of production and distribution would be within reach of all, socialized, without an exploiter to hold the reins and appropriate our socially produced wealth. A world where the environment is no longer seen as a huge profit reserve – for plunder and ruin – by the capitalist class as we see today. A world based on the participation of all, which could be expressed through new organs of co-ordination, of production, and of distribution, through a system of delegates elected and subject to recall at any time, and representing society as a whole.To achieve this, it is imperative to overthrow the bourgeois state along with its parliamentary ‘democracy’, the capitalist class’s usual smoke & mirrors trick for establishing and maintaining their dominance. It’s up to the working class, with its class party as a guide, to take power by ridding itself of the the class which exploits it, by destroying its State, and establishing its own institutions. Only the working class as a whole, though its own autonomous bodies, workers councils for example, may establish a new classless stateless society. This task can not be delegated, not even to the most and conscious class Party.

Internationalist Communists Klasbatalo                                     Printemps Érable 2012 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Solidarity with Battaglia Comunista (PCint) which has suffered provocations in Parma (Italy)

We publish the comment of the Fraction of the  International Communist Left and want to indicate our whole internationalist solidarity with comrades of the Pcint-Battaglia Communista.

Internationalist Communists - Klasbatalo

Solidarity with Battaglia Comunista (PCint) which has suffered provocations in Parma (Italy)
We publish here the "communique" that the comrades of the PCint-Battaglia Comunista (Internationalist Communist Tendency) have written after various and suspicious provocations recently held against them. We think highly important that all groups and militants claiming the Communist Left legacy express their solidarity with BC and the ICT. This expression of solidarity is obvious, by principle can we say, and must be expressed at any moment. But today, it seems to us that it is even more fundamental at the very moment the confrontation between the classes, between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, takes a wider scale than the last decades because the deepness and the impasse of capitalism's economical crisis. Everywhere, the bourgeoisie is obliged to attack massively and roughly the working class. Everywhere, it knows that these attacks will provoke inescapably workers reactions – they have already begun - which will be massive and increasingly "radical". It does prepare itself to it. Economically of course, but above all politically, ideologically, and at the repressive level too.
In Italy, the bourgeoisie has a great experience of the confrontation and the repression with the proletariat. In the years 1970, in front of the social movements initiated by the 1969 Italian "May" [called "Mai rampant" in French since it occurred during various months in the 1969 spring a year after the French May 68, translator's note], one of its essential weapons for derailing the proletariat off its class ground and to defeat it, had been the utilization of the police provocations and the cynical and systematic use of terrorism - through murderous bombings of so-called anarchists and in which the secrete services and policemen were often implicated as well as they were not very far from the terrorist actions realized by the Red Brigades... It appears today that the Italian bourgeoisie takes out again from its drawers this arm and this tactic putting back at first plan alleged threats of "violent" groups and various bombings and murders, one day on behalf of the mafia, the other one of the anarchists (FAI), the third on a "madman". So, it creates a "climate of tension" that the BC comrades underline and denounce in their communique and which does not limit itself to national scale events but also to a lot of local "incidents"... as in Parma where some of them have been provoked but "fascist" elements. It is in this context of "tension" that the PCint office in Parma has been "visited".

This tactic of tension has only one aim : hampering the inescapable revival of the workers struggles and the indispensable workers fight-back to the attacks they suffer ; and, for that aim, also attacking the political groups and militants of the class' vanguard who call for the destruction of the bourgeois State and for the Dictatorship of the proletariat. The utilization of terrorism enables to create the suspicion of these ones, to take the workers away from them, and to prepare thus their repression, their prosecution and their banning. The communists, as their class, have nothing to do with terrorism and they firmly denounce its use and "minority" actions which substitute to the mass action of the proletariat. Following the communique of the ICT comrades, we reproduce an extract of the Resolution on terrorism, terror and class violence that we had adopted in the ICC in 1978 – which recalls why terrorism can't be a proletariat's arm and why it can't be today but utilized, manipulated, and even directly created by the bourgeoisie and its State. In front of these provocations which will certainly multiply, we claim the conclusion of the PCint comrades : "that's why we will carry on our communist fight and will defend our capacity of political action without withdrawing for one step".

Solidarity with the comrades of Battaglia Comunista !

The FICL, May 30th, 2012.
Communique of Battaglia Comunista
Serious Event at the Parma PCint Office.
During the night of Wednesday 16 to Thursday 17, unknown persons have get into our office in Parma, at borgo San Giuseppe 5, and have taken tens of volumes of the Dimitri Papaioannoy library. The following Friday morning, one comrade passing to the office found the mailbox pulled out and thrown in front of the door.
Facts as well worrying had already occurred in the previous weeks : one day, we realized that one of the two banners that we run up at the office entrance when we open it, had disappeared ; some days later, we found the other banner on the ground with a footprint on it.
It is obvious that these unknown persons have been able to open the door without breaking. We can't know who are the authors of these provocations towards us but they fit in a climate of tension which have not stop growing in the city after the criminal attack that the fascists of the Casapound have led with strikes of iron bars and knives Saturday May 11th afternoon against comrades of the anti-fascist committee of the Montanara district.
In these cases, we need to have solid nerves and much determination. As far as we are concerned, we won't let us being intimidated by anyone - as communists, we know that the bourgeoisie's hand is behind these provocations -, and we won't fall in the trap of the physical fight-back - it is exactly what the enemy class looks for. That's why we will carry on our communist fight and will defend our capacity of political action without withdrawing for one step

Battaglia Comunista, section "Guido Torricelli" of Parma.
Sunday, May 27th 2012.
(Translated into English by the FICL)

Resolution on terror, terrorism and class violence
(extracts, ICC, 1978)

We reproduce here after an extract of a programmatic document of the ICC which presents the communists' position in regards with the question of terrorism and which we carry on still today to defend as ours.

4. Capitalism is the last society in history to be divided into classes. The capitalist class bases its rule on the economic exploitation of the working class. In order to ensure this exploitation and intensify it as far as it can, the capitalist class, like all exploiting classes in history, resorts to all the means of coercion, oppression and repression at its disposal. It does not hesitate to use the most inhuman, savage and bloody methods to guarantee and perpetuate exploitation. The more it is confronted with internal difficulties, the more the workers resist exploitation, the more bloodily the bourgeoisie exerts its repression. It has developed a whole arsenal of repressive methods: prisons, deportations, murder, concentration camps, genocidal wars, and the most refined forms of torture. It has also, of necessity, created various bodies specialized in carrying all this out: police; gendarmes, armies, juridical bodies, qualified torturers, commandos and paramilitary gangs. The capitalist class devotes an ever-growing part of the surplus value extracted from the exploitation of the working class in order to maintain this repressive apparatus; this has reached the point where this sector has become the most important and flourishing field of social activity. In order to defend its class rule, the capitalist class is in the process of leading society to ruin and threatening the whole of humanity with suffering and death.
We are not trying to paint an emotional picture of capitalist barbarism; it is a prosaic description of its actual practice.
This practice, which impregnates the whole of social life and all relations between human beings, which penetrates into the pores of society, this practice, this system of domination, we call -- terror. Terror is not this or that episodic, circumstantial act of violence. Terror is a particular mode of violence, inherent to exploiting classes. It is concentrated, organized, specialized violence, planned, developed and perfected with the aim of perpetuating exploitation.
Its principal characteristics are:
a. being the violence of a minority class against the great majority of society;
b. perpetuating and perfecting itself to the point of becoming its own raison d’être;
c. requiring a specialized body which always becomes more specialized, more detached from society, closed in upon itself, escaping all control, brutally imposing its iron grip on the whole population and stifling any hint of criticism with the silence of death.

5. The proletariat is not the only class to feel the rigors of state terror. Terror is also imposed upon all the petty bourgeois classes and strata: peasants, artisans, small producers and shopkeepers, intellectuals and the liberal professions, scientists and students; it even extends itself into the ranks of the bourgeois class itself. These strata and classes do not put forward any historical alternative to capitalism; worn out and exasperated by the barbarism of the system and its terror, they can only oppose it with acts of despair: terrorism.
Although it can also be used by certain sectors of the bourgeoisie, terrorism is essentially the mode of action, the practice of desperate classes and strata who have no future. This is why this practice, which tries to be ‘heroic and exemplary’, is in fact nothing but an act of suicide. It offers no way forward and only has the result of supplying victims to the terror of the state. It has no positive effect on the class struggle of the proletariat and often acts as an obstacle to it, inasmuch as it gives rise to illusions among the workers that there can be some other way forward than the class struggle. This is why terrorism, the practice of the petty bourgeoisie, can be and often is exploited judiciously by the state as a way of derailing the workers from the terrain of the class struggle and as a pretext for strengthening the terror of the state.
What characterizes terrorism as a practice of the petty bourgeoisie is the fact that it is the action of small, isolated minorities which never raises itself to the level of mass action. It is conducted in the shadows of little conspiracies, thus providing a favorite hunting ground for the underhand activities of agents of the police and the state and for all sorts of manipulations and intrigues. (...)
In this sense we have to reject the idea of a ‘workers’ terrorism’ which is presented as the work of detachments of the proletariat, ‘specialists’ in armed action, or which is supposed to prepare the ground for future battles by giving an example of violent struggle to the rest of the class, or by ‘weakening’ the capitalist state by ‘preliminary attacks’. The proletariat can delegate certain detachments for this or that immediate action (pickets, patrols, etc) but these are under the control of the movement as a whole; within the framework of this movement the resolute actions of the most advanced elements can serve to catalyze the struggle of the broad masses, but this can never be done through the conspiratorial and individualistic methods that characterize terrorism. Terrorism even when practiced by workers or groups of workers, cannot take on a proletarian character, just as the fact that the unions are made up of workers does not make them organs of the working class. (...)

6) (...)
The struggle of the proletariat, like any social struggle, is necessarily violent, but the practice of its violence is as distinct from that of other classes as are its projects and its goals. Its practice, including the use of violence, is the action of huge masses, not of a minority; it is liberating, the midwife of a new harmonious society, not the perpetuation of a permanent state of war of one against all and all against one. Its practice does not aim to perfect and perpetuate violence, but to banish the crimes of the capitalist class and immobilize it. (...)
Its invincible force resides (...) in its capacity to mobilize the whole mass of the class and to integrate the majority of the non-proletarian laboring classes and strata into the struggle against capitalist barbarism. It resides in the development of its consciousness and its capacity to organize itself in a unified autonomous way, in the firmness of its convictions and the vigor of its decisions.
These are the fundamental weapons of the practice, the class violence of the proletariat.

ICC, International Review 15, 1978.