Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Against Bourgeois Charity

December 4th 2007

The commando-bouffe action don't go anywhere

In December 1997, the Comité des Sans-Emploi (CSE) undertook a strong-arm action to denounce the misery and cruelty which capitalism as a whole perpetuates. They were dissatisfied – and for good reason –with charitable organizations connected with capitalism, supposedly to help the proletariat in need. The CSE had set up a commando to requisition food from the Hotel's restaurant, a restaurant as chic as the Queen Elisabeth hotel itself, where the privileged of bourgeois society pile in to pig-out on ostentation and expensive food. Ipso Facto, this commando-bouffe attacked the bourgeoisie on their own turf by defying the legality of its repressive apparatus. While some Quebec celebrities performed as clowns, ringing the bells of La Guignolée soliciting funds in order to offer a more festive Christmas to thousands of Quebec's pauper proletarians, a hundred individuals invaded the Queen Elisabeth to take over this buffet.

Today, 10 years later, the situation has hardly changed for those living in misery. And it won't change so long as our class does not organize to abolish this cannibalistic system that is capitalism. Our class is the proletariat, the class that produces the wealth benefiting another class – the bourgeoisie – that monopolizes this wealth by a plethora of supposedly legitimate laws and regulations that it set up through its State. While a handful of individuals flaunt their obscene wealth, all over the world most human beings have no access to clean water, staple foods, or a roof over their heads…

Charity, a concept particular to the bourgeoisie, will never eliminate social inequality or poverty. As a matter of fact, charitable organizations were initially conceived by the bourgeoisie to "humanize" its barbaric system of organized plunder, while at the same time absolving the conscience of its class. As well, it would have us believe that its so-called liberal ambition of distributing the wealth is on the agenda, while throwing crumbs to the most dispossessed of our class in order to shut us up and force us to accept the fate that is our lot each hour of every day. The action undertaken by the CSE pertinently questions the legitimacy of a system based o production for profit benefiting only the bourgeoisie, which squabbles over the world's wealth. Characteristically, their disputes find expressions in bloody wars where workers die on the front lines.

Because capitalism is permanent war! At its base, it is a war between the classes that make up this system. Everywhere the bourgeoisie attacks the proletariat, by demobilizing its organization, cutting social services, reducing retirement funds, whenever not confronted directly over the cutting of our social wage. For this reason, the capitalists are united against the working class everywhere on this planet. Subsequently, capitalism is already engaged in a cannibalistic war within the global ruling class itself, we find them competing with each other to monopolize new markets, disputing the old ones, and plundering natural resources worldwide.

No, capitalism has hardly evolved toward a greater level of social welfare since the First World War, whatever its partisans might say: its cycle of crisis / war / reconstruction (a cycle which unblocks a stagnant economy) was not contained at all after 1945. On the contrary the spread of local imperialist confrontation continued throughout the Cold War, causing more death than ever, and leaving the planet with the even greater threat of total destruction through nuclear war. Moreover, since the decomposition of the Eastern Bloc in 1991, ending the post-war balance of power, the great powers have seen new prospects on the horizon and the field is open once again to divide the world's wealth.

Actions such as those undertaken by the CSE in 1997 are very legitimate but unfortunately don't go anywhere. Ten years later, this sort of action didn't make one iota of progress in the class-consciousness of the unemployed in general, and the Comité des Sans-Emplois in particular. This is evident in the commemorative nature of the commando-bouffe action. To effectively subvert capitalism while establishing the dictatorship of the proletariat articulated through workers' councils, it is necessary to build an organization capable of uniting all workers. An internationalist anti-Stalinist working class party must be built now so that the proletariat can effectively unify in a fight against its exploiters. From factory to factory, company to company, strikes must extend to all sectors of production leaving aside the union structure that no longer has the same interests as those of our class. It's the dictatorship of the proletariat based on workers' councils and committees that must emerge in the battle against capitalism – a dictatorship completely opposed to the dictatorship of party, parliamentarism and bourgeois legalism! Today the working class must take in hand the reins of its destiny by setting up its class party to enable its own conscience to emerge more sharply than ever in the struggle it has always carried out against the class that exploits it!

No compromise with the bourgeoisie! Workers, to your party, to the Revolution!

Some international communists, Montreal December 4th 2007


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

An irrational accommodation: capitalism

November 2007

For several months, the press and bourgeois media spearheaded a massive campaign to divide immigrant workers from their Québécois and aboriginal counterparts. The pretext: reasonable accommodations for Jews and Muslims. Even if, for example, no Islamic religious organizations requested the right to wear the veil during voting, the media kept on about it. The whole point of this divisive debate is to have us forget that the vote is utterly useless for the proletariat, regardless of their origin. Amongst politicians, this has culminated in the creation of the Bouchard-Taylor commission given the task of touring Quebec. Everyone - bourgeois, petit bourgeois and workers are invited as "citizens" to offer their opinion. This campaign serves to fuel the worst of bourgeois ideology: racism, xenophobia, and nationalism, of 'every man for himself'. The capitalist class has only one aim in mind: to prevent the proletariat from affirming its solidarity and its unity as an international working class. While making believe that the Québécois proletariat would have something to safeguard, to defend against all immigrants from Arab countries or elsewhere, all this media hoopla endeavors to do is to make them believe that the immigrant situation (1) is separate from the working class, from the misery of its own condition as an exploited class.

We have even heard that "lady of the manor" Pauline Marois, speak to us of "Our identity" as nationalists. This "Identity" being the right to be exploited by our own home-grown business people... The bourgeois elites, as always, stand in the way of any real workers solidarity, which must extend beyond nationality. This "faith" in the "secular" bourgeois State as ultimate judge of peace and social cohesion, is just the kind of crap that's thrown out for the unions. Behind this whole debate about reasonable accommodation is the defense of "secularism" which is in fact the defense of the special status given to the capitalist state and bourgeois democracy.

The government has no intention of diminishing the importance of religions, to the contrary – its aim is to reinforce them. It will be under the staff of "our secular State" that courses on all religions will flourish in the schools in the autumn of 2008. Religion will always be the opiate of the masses.

In the face of worldwide misery and barbarism in full putrefaction, there is but one prospect for the working class – to firmly reject the competitive rationale of its own exploiters, of "every man for himself". No matter what their origin, language, colour of skin, or religion, the proletariat has no interest in common with national capital. It can only really defend its interests, by developing everywhere its solidarity with the international working class, by resisting any attempt to foster division as immigrants, Canadians, Quebecois and aboriginal peoples.

Only the assertion of its common interests in struggle will permit the proletariat to gather all its resources, to affirm itself as a world class united in solidarity, to bring down the capitalist Moloch before it destroys the planet.

Some internationalist communists of Montreal


(1) Note: from 1840 to 1930, 900,000 French Canadians emigrated to the USA. It is alarming to read the racist report of an American functionary:

« With some exceptions the Canadian French are the Chinese of the Eastern States. They care nothing for our institutions, civil, political, or educational. They do not come to make a home among us, to dwell with us as citizens, and so become a part of us; but their purpose is merely to sojourn a few years as aliens…

…They are indefatigable workers, and docile… All they ask is to be set to work, and they care little who rules them or how they are ruled. To earn all they can by no matter how many hours of toil, to live in the most beggarly way so that out of their earnings they may spend as little for living as possible, and tocarry out of the country what they can thus save: this is the aim of the Canadian French in our factory districts. »

Massachusetts Report on statistics of labor Boston 13th 1881

Monday, November 26, 2007

Misery + barbarism = capitalism

November 2007

Today, throughout the world, capitalism in crisis is manifested in plans of economic management resulting in factory closures, massive layoffs, wage cuts for those wanting to keep their jobs, and intolerable attacks on retirement and pensions, thus further emiserating the working class, and let's not forget the two thirds of humanity perpetually starved by this system.

Today, here, there and everywhere, this very same capitalism disgorges its barbarism in every conceivable form, proliferating war and creating hotbeds of tension, propagating massive, savage acts of terror – not to mention the rise of ecological catastrophes that kill and maim thousands, each and every day.

Through the mass media, the ruling class conveys its endeavors to legitimize all anti-working class policies in the name of a supposed "imperative need", of an ideologically manufactured "globalization", as it seeks to whitewash the daily atrocities in its wake, while offering us up as local scapegoats, brushing us off or putting it all down to fate or "stroke of luck".


What it's looking to do here is to defend its sordid interests as best it can through increased exploitation of the working-class and by massively intensifying the massacre of human beings, as it sees fit.

Here nearly a century ago, the great revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg very clearly expressed this reality of the capitalist system and the class that wallows in it, when she spoke to workers of the time. "Business thrives in the ruins. Cities become piles of ruins; villages become cemeteries; countries, deserts; populations are beggared; churches, horse stalls. International law, treaties and alliances, the most sacred words and the highest authority have been torn in shreds (…) Violated, dishonored, wading in blood, dripping filth--there stands bourgeois society. This is it [in reality]. Not all spic and span and moral, with pretense to culture, philosophy, ethics, order, peace, and the rule of law--but the ravening beast, the witches' sabbath of anarchy, a plague to culture and humanity. Thus it reveals itself in its true, its naked form."



TThe truth is that capitalism, in spite of claims to the contrary, is a system historically at the end of its road, a decadent system, dissolute and bankrupt, which, for close to 40 years, has seen a period of overt economic crisis marked by convulsions, of dire consequences for the working-class. In just 20 years, we've seen the stock-market crash of 1987, then in 1990 the American Savings and Loans crash, in 1994 that of the US bond market, in 1997 and 1998 financial crises which affected countries like Thailand, Korea and Hong Kong then Russia and Brazil, and finally the bursting of the IT bubble in 2001-2003. In the past few months we've witnessed a new and terrifying shock, one appearing at the financial level with the bursting of the real-estate bubble, and a cascade of bankruptcies for many major banks and mortgage companies, with terrible economic and social repercussions (according to an eminent bourgeois pundit: "The worst of the financial crisis is ahead of us.") Today, this shock is accompanied by the awakening of the commercial war that delivers itself in particular to the great capitalist powers which manifests itself, amongst other things, in the competition between the dollar and the euro and in the explosion of oil prices. It is all this that the ruling class seeks to minimize but has already made the proletariat pay for heavily.


The truth is that capitalism is by far the most barbaric system that humanity has ever known. For the past century, it has spread conflicts all over the planet, going so far as to subject humanity to two world wars. And since the end of the Second World War, contrary to the phony façade of peace that the bourgeoisie tried to give its system, not a generation of the proletariat has known the capitalist world without warlike confrontations here or there. Even at this moment, Afghanistan, Iraq, the horn of Africa (Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, Darfur) and other corners of the globe (for which the bourgeois media have only contempt) are smoldering with fire and blood; the ominous thud of boots on the ground are felt on the border between Turkey and Iraq (where 100, 000 Turkish troops are amassed), around Iran, in ex-Yugoslavia around Kosovo and several countries of the Caucasus; not to mention the many hotbeds of tension, temporarily cooled, ready to erupt at a moment's notice (the Middle East).

And in all its warlike tensions, one finds the great capitalist powers (the USA, Germany, Great Britain, France, Russia, China…), on the front lines decked out in the hypocritical flag of "peace-keeping", or pulling the strings behind the scenes and fueling the engines of death (since 2006, the arms race has surpassed records made at the time of the Cold War). One thing is certain: it is the "elite" who are responsible for the massacres and destruction ravaging the world. In this world dominated by capital, they are the main culprits responsible for the future storms on the horizon. Because of major rivals who oppose them and assert themselves ever more openly, overall the logic of capitalism today has dealt a mortal blow, it's major confrontations that they are preparing themselves for (Cf. The proliferation of secret negotiations and other meetings, official or not – where the most contemptible bargaining takes place and where the drives of their true natures are expressed – in view of forming alliances and over the long term imperialist blocs), it's a new world war they want to impose on humanity.


Against the torrent of anti-working class measures everywhere, exacerbated by the intensifying economic crises, the working class is far from being without response.

To take for example only these last few months, let us cite, among others, the great social movement which until spring inflamed the whole town of Oaxaca (Mexico) and its area and which threatened to spread to other parts of the country, let us cite, at the end of summer, the illegal strike of the 27,000 Egyptian textile workers for wage increases (40% obtained), that of the 73,000 General Motors workers in the USA, for wages, social security and retirement benefits; let us cite as well the difficult struggle of Chilean copper miners (38 days of strikes this summer) and by coal miners in Peru for wage increases; let us cite finally, last July, the bus drivers in Iran, on strike for wages and better working conditions. The European proletariat is not to be left out here, notably (but not exclusively) in the transport sector: in Germany, recurrent strikes of railway workers in spite of being declared "illegal" and "prohibited" by the courts; in France, rail and public transport strikes (the RATP) for retirement benefits and with Air France for wages…

Thus, it is with great determination – and often with immense courage – the anger and distrust of workers finds some expression everywhere. These struggles show clearly that the working class is not ready to accept the sacrifices that capitalists and their state seek to impose on them.

Legitimate as these struggles are, will they be enough to drive back the exploiters?

For its struggle to be effective, the working class initially must take the battle to the capitalists; and, for that it is

necessary to spread and extend its struggle by means of mass delegation to other factories, enterprises and sectors, and to do everything possible to unite them. To undertake this requires the workers to take their struggles in hand, through independent general assemblies, strike committees subject to immediate recall, and not to retreat back to the unions, which ceased to be organizations in defense of workers' interests long ago. Quite the contrary! It's the road the working class must take to effectively defend its interests today and to repel the relentless attacks of capital.

But this is also the way that tomorrow will enable it – through the development of its struggle and because it is the revolutionary class – to launch "the assault on the heavens" and to overthrow the system which, otherwise could lead humanity to a new (and surely a last) world war.



Some internationalist communists(Canada) and the Internal Fraction of ICC (France and Mexico)

Mail contact : cim_icm@yahoo.com

Link of the IFICC: http://bcommuniste.ifastnet.com/

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Poland, August 1980: The proletariat rediscovers the weapon of the mass strike

We are publishing this “old ICC” text because it shows us what the working class is capable of when it defends its interests independently of unions, but also how unions with their expert negotiators can sabotage their struggle. In Poland, the ‘independent’ unions subordinated workers’ political and economic demands, following the age-old tactic of the ‘democratic’ defence of the unions rather than the interests of workers. It also reminds us of struggles such as in ‘75, of the United Aircraft workers (Pratt & Whitney) that the FTQ union bureaucracy reduced to the question of the legal recognition of the union.

Some internationalist communists, Montreal

Poland, August 1980: The proletariat rediscovers the weapon of the mass strike

After the announcement of increases in meat prices workers responded in many plants with spontaneous strikes. On July 1st the workers of Tczew near Gdansk and the Warsaw suburb of Ursus downed tools. At Ursus, general assemblies were held, a strike committee was elected and common demands were put forward. During the following days the strikes continued to spread: Warsaw, Lodz, Gdansk...

By making quick concessions through pay increases the government tried to prevent a further extension of the movement. In mid-July the workers of Lublin went on strike. Lublin is located on the railway line which links Russia to East Germany. In 1980 this was a vital supply line for the Russian troops in East Germany. The workers’ demands were: no repression against striking workers, withdrawal of theing workers, withdrawal of the police from the factories, wage increases and free elections of trade unions.

While in some places the workers resumed work, in other enterprises more workers joined the strikes. At the end of July the government hoped to extinguish the strikes by using the tactic of negotiating with the workers factory by factory. But on August 14th the movement was on the rise again: the tram drivers of Warsaw and the shipbuilders of Gdansk came out on strike. And in other towns many more workers joined the movement.

What made the workers strong...

The workers had drawn the lessons of the struggles of 1970-71 and 1976. They saw that the official trade union apparatus was part of the stalinist state and always took sides with the government whenever the workers came forward with their demands. This is why it was vital that the workers in the mass strikes of 1980 took the initiatives themselves. They did not wait for any instructions from above, but came together and held meetings in order to decide themselves about the time and focus of their struggles. This could be seen clearest at Gdansk-Gdynia-Zopot, i.e. the industrial beltopot, i.e. the industrial belt on the Baltic Sea. At the Lenin shipyards in Gdansk alone, some 20,000 were employed.

Common demands were put forward at mass meetings. A strike committee was formed. At the beginning, economic demands were put into the foreground. The workers were determined: they did not want a repetition of the bloody crushing of the struggles as had happened in 1970 and 1976. In an industrial centre such as Gdansk-Gdynia-Zopot it was obvious that all the workers would have to unite in order to make the balance of forces tip in their favour. An inter-factory strike committee (MKS) was formed, which was composed of 400 members, two delegates for each factory. During the second half of August some 800-1000 delegates met. By forming an inter-factory strike committee the usual dispersal of forces was overcome.

Now the workers could face capital in a united way. Every day there were mass meetings at the Lenin shipyards. Loudspeakers were installed to allow the workers to follow the discussions of the strike committees and the negotiations with the government delegation. Shortly afterwards microphones were installed outside of the meeting room of the MKS, so that workers attending the mass meetings could directly intervene in the discussions of the MKS. In the evenings the delegates . In the evenings the delegates – mostly equipped with cassette recorders to record the debates – went back to their plants and presented the discussions and the situation to factory assemblies, giving back their mandate to the general assemblies.

This allowed for the largest number of workers to participate in the struggles. The delegates had to hand back their mandate, they were recallable at any time, and the general assemblies were always sovereign. All of these practices are in total opposition to the way unions function.

As soon as the workers from Gdansk-Gynia and Zopot joined, the movement spread to other cities. In order to sabotage contact between workers, the government cut the telephone lines on August 16th. The workers immediately threatened further extension of the movement, if the government did not re-establish phone lines immediately. The government gave in.

The general assembly of the workers decided to set up a workers’ militia. Previously consumption of alcohol was widespread with workers, it was collectively decided to prohibit alcohol consumption. Workers were aware that they needed a clear head to confront the governmentar head to confront the government.

A government delegation met the workers in order to negotiate. They met in front of the entire general assembly and not behind closed doors. The workers demanded a new composition of the government delegation because their leaders were only from the lower ranks. The government gave in.

When the government threatened the workers of Gdansk with repression, the railway workers of Lublin declared that « if any of the workers in Gdansk were physically attacked or hurt in any way, they would paralyse the strategically important railway line between Russia and East Germany. » The government grasped what was at stake. Its war machine would have been hit at a most sensitive spot – and during the Cold War this would have been fatal.

In almost all the major cities workers were mobilised. More than half a million workers, they were the only force in the country capable of confronting the government. What gave them their strength was:

the rapid extension of the movement, rather than getting worn down in violent confrontations as had happened in 1970 and 1976,

self-organisation, that is, workers taking the initiative themselves instead of counting on trade instead of counting on trade unions,

holding mass meetings where they could unite their forces and exercise control over the movement, allowing for the biggest possible mass participation and negotiation with the government in front of all the workers.

The extension of the movement was the best weapon of solidarity – instead of only making declarations, the workers were going into the struggles themselves. This made it possible for a different balance of forces to develop. Since the workers struggled so massively, the government could not impose its repression. During the strikes in the summer, when the workers were confronting the government in a united manner head on, not a single worker got beaten up, let alone killed. The Polish bourgeoisie realised that it would have to weaken the workers from inside the movement.

The workers at Gdansk demanded that the concessions the government had granted to them would apply to workers in the rest of the country. They wanted to oppose any divisions and offered their solidarity to the other workers.

The working class acted as a central point of reference. Apart from other workers who went to Gdansk in order to establish a direct contact with the striking worontact with the striking workers, both farmers and students came to the factory gates in order to receive the strike bulletins and other information. The working class was the leading force in society.

The reaction of the bourgeoisie – isolation

The danger that the struggles in Poland constituted for the bourgeoisie could be seen in their reactions in the neighbouring countries.

The borders between Poland and East Germany, Czechoslovakia and the USSR were sealed off immediately. Previously Polish workers had travelled every day to East Germany, above all to Berlin, to go shopping (in Poland there were even fewer goods in the shops than in East Germany). But the bourgeoisie wanted to isolate the working class. Direct contact between the workers of different countries was to be prevented at all costs. And there was every reason to take such a measure! In the neighbouring Czech coal mining area of Ostrava the miners also went on strike – following the Polish example. In the Romanian mining districts, in Russian Togliattigrad the workers also followed the Polish road. Even if there were no direct strikes as a reaction to the Polish workers’ struggles, the workers in many countries in the west took up the slogans of their class be slogans of their class brothers and sisters in Poland. In Turin in September 1980 the workers shouted: "Let’s struggle as the Polish workers did"

Because of its scope and its methods the mass strikes in Poland had a massive impact on workers in other countries. Through their mass strikes the workers showed – as they had already done in 1953 in East Germany, in 1956 in Poland and Hungary, 1970 and 1976 in Poland again – that the so-called ‘socialist’ countries were in reality state capitalist governments, enemies of the working class. Despite the isolation imposed around the Polish borders, despite the Iron Curtain, the Polish working class, as soon as it took action, functioned as a massive pole of reference with a world wide impact. Precisely at the height of the cold war, during the war in Afghanistan, the workers in Poland sent an important signal: they opposed the arms race and the war economy by their class struggle. The question of the unification of the workers between East and West, even if it was not yet concretely posed, resurfaced as a perspective.

How the movement was sabotaged

The movement was able to develop such a strength because it spread quickly and because the workers themsel and because the workers themselves took the initiative. Extension beyond the confines of individual factories, general assemblies, revocability of delegates – all these measures contributed to their strength. While, in the beginning, there was no union influence in the movement, the members of the newly founded ‘free and independent’ trade union, ‘Solidarnosc’, soon started to hold back the movement.

Initially the negotiations took place in the open, but it was soon proposed that ‘experts’ were needed in order to work out the details with the government. Step by step the workers could no longer follow and participate in the negotiations. The loud speakers in the halls and in the ship yards, which transmitted the negotiations, no longer worked because of some ‘technical’ problems. Lech Walesa was crowned as leader of the new movement. Solidarnosc (1), the new enemy of the workers, had managed to infiltrate the movement and started its job of sabotage. Solidarnosc completely distorted the workers’ demands. Whereas initially economic and political demands were in the forefront, they now pushed for the recognition of the ‘free’ trade unions, with economic and political demands only to be second on the list. They followed the old tactics: defence of the trade unions, insteaence of the trade unions, instead of defence of the workers interests.

Previously workers in Poland had been clear that the official unions took sides with the state, but now many workers believed that the 10 million strong Solidarnosc was not corrupt and would defend their interests. The workers in Poland had not yet gone through the experience of the workers in the west in dealing with ‘free trade unions’.

Walesa promised that "we want to create a second Japan and establish prosperity for everyone" and many workers, due to their inexperience with the reality of capitalism in the west, had illusions in such a possibility. Solidarnosc, with Walesa at its head, quickly took over the role of playing the fireman for capitalism, trying to extinguish workers struggles.

In autumn 1980, workers, protesting against the Gdansk agreement, went on strike again. They had seen that, with a ‘free’ trade union on their side, their material situation was getting even worse. Solidarnosc was already beginning to show its true face. Soon after the end of the mass strikes Lech Walesa was being flown around in an army helicopter, taken to striking workers to urge them to abandon their strikes: "We don’t need any more strikes because they push our country into acause they push our country into an abyss, we need calm".

From the very beginning Solidarnosc sabotaged the movement. Whenever possible it snatched away the initiative from the workers, prevented them from starting new strikes. In the summer of 1980 the mass strike movement could reach such proportions because the Polish bourgeoisie, as well as the stalinist regimes in the rest of Eastern Europe, were ill equipped politically for confronting the class other than with repression. This was unlike the west, where trade unions and bourgeois democracy play the role of a buffer. In the context of political backwardness in the capitalist class in Eastern Europe, and in the context of the Cold War, the Polish bourgeoisie was very suspicious of Solidarnosc. However, it was not their subjective feeling, but the objective role which Solidarnosc was to play against the workers, that was decisive. Thus, in 1981 there was a growing recognition in the stalinist government that Solidarnosc – albeit an ‘alien’ body in the stalinist set-up – could play a useful role.

The balance of forces was changing

In December 1981 the Polish bourgeoisie could finally start repression against the workers. Solidarnosc had done its best to disarm the worone its best to disarm the workers politically – preparing their defeat. While, during the summer of 1980, the workers had not been attacked because of the self-initiative and the extension of the struggles, and because there was no union to disarm the workers, in December 1981 more than 1,200 workers were killed, and thousands of workers were imprisoned or driven into exile. This military repression took place following an intensive co-ordination between the ruling class in the East and the West.

After the strikes in 1980 the western bourgeoisie offered Solidarnosc all sorts of assistance, in order to strengthen them against the workers. Campaigns of ‘assistance for Poland’ were started, and cheap credits from the IMF were granted, in order to prevent the idea spreading that workers in the west could follow the Polish example. On Dec. 13th 1981, the day when repression was unleashed, the West German social-democratic Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and the arch-stalinist GDR leader Erich Honecker met outside Berlin and pretended not to know anything about what was going on. However, in reality, not only had they given their backing to repression, they had also passed on their own experience of confronting the working class to the ruting the working class to the ruling class in the East.

In the summer of 1980 it was not possible for revolutionaries to intervene within Poland due to the sealing off of the borders. But in September 1980 the ICC distributed an international leaflet in more than a dozen countries, which also circulated in Poland thanks to the help of some contacts. In our later interventions in Poland, the ICC always criticised the illusions of the Polish workers. As revolutionaries, we saw that our job was not to share the illusions of the workers, but to warn workers in Poland about their lack of experience in confronting ‘radical’ unions, telling them about the experience of the workers in the west. Even if our positions on the union question was not very popular in Poland, forcing us to ‘swim against the tide’, events proved us to be right.

One year later, in December 1981, Solidarnosc showed what a terrible defeat it had been able to impose on the workers. Subsequently, Lech Walesa became President of Poland. This was an expression of the confidence he enjoyed from the church and the western countries. He had already been an excellent defender of the interests of the Polish state in his capacity as leader of Solidarnosc.

The historical significance of the struggles

In the 20 years that have since passed, many of the workers who took part in the strike movement have retired, become unemployed or been forced into emigration. But their experience is of inestimable value for the whole working class. The ICC wrote in 1980 that "the struggles in Poland represent a great step forward in the world wide struggle of the proletariat, which is why these struggles are the most important for half a century." (Resolution on the Class Struggle, 4th Congress of the ICC, 1980, International Review 26). They were the highpoint of an international wave of struggles, the lessons of which we underlined in our report on the class struggle in 1999 at our 13th congress: "Historic events on this scale have long term consequences. The mass strike in Poland provided definitive proof that the class struggle is the only force that can compel the bourgeoisie to set aside its imperialist rivalries. In particular, it showed that the Russian bloc – historically condemned, by its weakened position, to be the ‘aggressor’ in any war – was incapable of respon– was incapable of responding to its growing economic crisis with a policy of military expansion. Clearly the workers of the Eastern bloc countries (and of Russia itself) were totally unreliable as cannon fodder in any future war for the glory of ‘socialism’. Thus the mass strike in Poland was a potent factor in the eventual implosion of the Russian imperialist bloc." (IR 99).

According to Welt Revolution n°101, organ of the ICC in Germany, August-September 2000

(1) Even if the foundation of a ‘free’ trade union can only be explained by the illusions and the lack of experience of the workers in Poland itself, there is no doubt that organised efforts by the KOR (a partially pro-western oppositional group) were only possible because of help from the west for the systematic construction of Solidarnosc. Despite the enmity between the two imperialist blocs, there was a unity against the working class.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Open letter on a few articles about Gagnon and Corbin

July 2007

To the Internationalist Workers Group Open Letter on a few articles published in Notes Internationalistes (no. 6 and 7)

Dear comrades,

A closer reading of the article “ Charles Gagnon 1939-2005 An intense Commitment, A sincere Revolt, but to what end? published in Notes Internationalistes (march 2006), made us see a lot of weakness and ambiguity in it. First, we have to state precisely that the bourgeoisie’s dominant ideological activity among the workers “consists of inventing organisations, parties, which will invent solutions whose ideologies - even if they’re dressed with sentences from Marx or Lenin - are irrelevant for the proletariat, even if they seem to have been relevant for them in the past,like with the Russian Revolution, or any other event. It will be a matter to introduce among the workers positions which, in the name of the revolution or past revolutionary struggles, will be means to defend the capitalist society today. (La Gauche Communiste de France, Contribution à une Histoire du Mouvement Révolutionnaire, p.10 - free translation).

It doesn’t matter what Charles Gagnon has written. As a political militant, insofar as he always claimed to belong firstly to the quebecois nationalist current during his felquist (FLQ) period, secondly and mostly to the Maoism and Stalinism, he had never have been related in any way to the history of the worker’s movement or to proletarian internationalism. He always belonged to one or another political current of the bourgeoisie. In particular, and besides it’s for this reason that this article is consecrated, he was related to a current - Stalinism and its Maoist variant - which was the spearhead of the bloody and dreadful counter-revolution from the ‘20’s along with the ‘30-40-50’s and even in the ’60’s...

Two years before the breaking-up of En Lutte, Gagnon wrote : "We have no hesitation to recognise that Stalin was a solid defender of the Marxism-Leninism, that he continuously maintained the fundamental principle of the USSR's construction of socialism under the dictatorship of the proletariat. We recognise that he played a determining role within the Comintern and, by means of this, in the development of the communist forces throughout the world. " (Forum International, international review of En Lutte, April 1980 - free translation).

Now, Notes Internationalistes presents to us this militant well-known Maoist as a militant whose commitment would deserve to be saluted and whose example should be, despite its "errors", followed :

A militant who produced "criticisms - no matter how inadequate - of the Quebecois nationalist movement, indeed of all national liberation movements." (Internationalist Notes, new series no.6)
A militant who "at least in his public life, was very far removed (sic!) from the political positions we defend." (Ibid)
A militant indirectly presented to us as "a militant from the revolutionary vanguard", a revolutionary who "was always working with material provided by the historical experience of the class." (Ibid)
A militant who "was finally defeated politically by his self-imposed isolation. Cut off from the struggles and from contact with the proletarians with whom he had been able to communicate with so easily and "organically" [who] gradually lost the thread of the relatively promising theoretical work he had undertaken in the period leading up in En Lutte's dissolution." (Ibid)

Notes Internationalistes then thinks it is possible, from the political frame provided by Maoism and Stalinism, to produce a denunciation - from a proletarian point of view - of nationalism ; to have (classist) positions arrived at from very far away from the Communist Left positions instead off conflicting and opposed from them ; to be part of the revolutionary vanguard and to reappropriate the history of the worker's movement ; and finally, to achieve a "natural and organic link" with the proletariat while having a framework for theoretical study. It even cries the so-called political death - "defeated politically" - of a Maoist militant.

Notes Internationalistes never refers to a "class point of view", even to any notion of classto evaluate the "work" of the Maoist militant and his group En Lutte!. But his affiliation to the Communist Left labels its opinion and therefore grants Maoism - or at least to this Maoism - a working class nature. From this, an openly opportunist position is taken by the IWG, which is a member of the IBRP.

In fact, the whole article reveals a view which shows an absence of a clear and sharp political break with Maoism.

The article presents the formation of the En Lutte! group as a "product of an entire generation of rebels, not just in Quebec but around the world, who were rising up to fight against all forms of oppression and exploitation, and who were disgusted by what they knew about the gulag in the USSR and the Eastern Bloc [but] swallowed whole the belief that the socialist project might be renewed by Maoism and the "youth" movement." (Ibid).

Thus, it seems to attribute a "positive" nature in the adhesion to Maoism of a generation of militants even though, from a communist point of view, Maoism has been a bourgeois political trap for these militant energies. This impression is later confirmed when the formation of the Maoist En Lutte! is implicitly saluted : " after a promising start, En Lutte! was repeatedly shaken by the atrocious foreign policy of China." (Ibid) (we underline). How, from a proletarian view, can the formation of a leftist Maoist group can be promising? Excepting the promise of the defeat and counter-revolution.

While we’re at it, and this is the question's central point, the conclusion of the article claims a historical, political, and theoretical continuity between Maoism... And the IWG thence the IBRP which is particularly dangerous and needs to be fought.

"When En Lutte! dissolved many of his old comrades openly renounced Marxism, but for some of us theoretical reflection and ongoing participation in workers' struggles led — with more than a few detours and false starts — to Left Communism and the International Bureau for a Revolutionary Party." (Ibid) The footnote where it says that the Internationalist Notes is "merely using the word "Marxism" for the sake of readability" doesn't matter : it keeps continuing to wreak havoc and confusion on what is really Marxism. Worse, in the same footnote, it adds that a majority of former Maoists "are still willing to get involved and fight during the next wave of anti-capitalist struggle."

How Notes Internationalistes can say that some Maoist militants renounced Marxism? Never in a month of Sundays has the Communist Left has claimed any continuity between Marxism and Stalinism, not to mention Maoism. To the contrary, the Communist Left made an implacable and absolute break with these. To think it possible that Marxist thought can exist within Maoism and Stalinism is to forget - in the best case - an important experience from the Communist Left's combat, particularly against the opportunism of Trotsky during the '30's. It's an open door to theoretical eclecticism and revisionism, in short to giving-up Marxism. Furthermore, on the political level, it's to consider it possible that something which is living, something belonging to the proletariat, can exist inside Maoist and Stalinist organisations. It's to make believe that these latter don't belong to the political camp of the bourgeoisie and capitalism. It's an open door to bourgeois leftism.

"Of the times we shared with him, we will try and remember his "moments of truth," while at the same time pursuing his struggle for a proletarian party in different ways." (Ibid). Again, how Notes Internationalistes can relate itself to the experiences - historical and militant - that some individuals, whom today are militants in the IBRP and the Communist Left, had inside Maoism? Never in a month of Sundays the Communist Left claimed any "shared experience" with Stalinism whatever. To the contrary, the Communist Left made an implacable break-up and a deadly fight with Stalinism.
How Internationalist Notes may want to pursue the so-called fight for the proletarian party from any Maoist organisation? What does a Maoist party have to do with a proletarian party? Nothing. One is the negation of the other. The triumphant stalinization of the communist parties inevitably implied the exclusion of the left oppositions, and particularly the exclusion of the Communist Left. This latter formed itself in particular in its struggle against "the bolchevisation" of the communist parties during the '20's. What does a bourgeois
nationalist party has to see with an internationalist proletarian party? Nothing. One is the negation of the other. The adoption by the International of the "socialism in one country" inevitably implied the exclusion of the internationalists, especially of the Communist Left, from the CP.

To make it believe that revolutionaries might share the same methods or experiences with some Maoist groups, isn't it - in the best case - an opening to frontism... Which the Communist Left has always fought? To make it believe there could be any link, any common approach or research shared between Maoism and the Communist Left in the edification of the Communist Party, isn't it an open door to anything at a political and organisational level, not to say entrism, which the Communist Left has rightly fought? And isn't it to grant Maoism with some positive nature for the international proletariat and the revolutionary forces? The confusion and the political opportunism found in the Internationalist Notes article shows an incomplete and confused break-up with leftism. Particularly, the article reveals for our comrades that there's an existing continuity between their past within the bourgeois political camp and their present within the internationalist camp. Moreover, they see there a positive step in their militant life, a kind-of step in the path leading to Communist Left while even today, it hampers them and make them fall again in the leftism. They don't see that En Lutte! , as the ten or so leftist organisations they mention, has made disappear the "generation of rebels" which supported, and lost themselves for, the real revolutionary activity.

That honest and sincere individuals can free themselves from leftism because they are disgusted by its practices ; or because they understand - as an individual who really want to defeat capitalism and still has the strength to do so - it's a dead-end is one thing. Its another thing conclude that the passage through by leftism can represent a positive step towards the political clarification and evolution of a militant. The habits and ideas which were acquired in leftist groups retard the understanding of a truly living Marxism. The militantism of individuals in these leftist groups, leagued them with organisations of capital by bringing conscious proletarian elements in the same mess as themselves.

So that the individuals who really want to come out from leftism can make it happen, it is indispensable that they politically, and explicitly, break with leftism in general, and with their past experiences in particular.

Same Opportunism in the N.I" no.7 (December 2006)

Taking into account the article of December 2006, the use of the front page's headline "workers power against capitalist exploitation " puzzled us. It's an old slogan of the En Lutte!'s platform between September '73 and May '75. "Workers power " for the Maoists during those years was a step while waiting for the revolution in the imperialist countries. What is clear for the Communist Left is the dictatorship of the proletariat on an international level. So it can destroy capitalism, the working class has to overthrow all states and establish the dictatorship of the proletariat on a world level : the international power of the workers councils regrouping the whole proletariat.

In "Notes de Lecture, Deux Regards sur Jeanne Corbin (reading's notes, two looks on Jeanne Corbin - free translation)", Notes Internationalistes wishes to soften us up, again, on this Stalinist by throwing up the following ravings : "Yet, in the decade which will follow, the CCP will experience important crisis : the Guzenko's affair, the revelations of the XXth CPSU and the Hungarian insurrection of 1956. These crisis will lead many of the formers Jeanne Corbin's comrades to leave it. No one can know what would have been the Jeanne's attitude if she still would have been alive." (free translation). (Notes Internationalistes, nouvelles séries no.7 )

This "heroin" who was an editor for the Worker, the party's newspaper union, a union organizer, a party's official, and a writer for the Ouvrier Canadien in the early '30's, was loaded to her neck with Stalinism and she wasn't just an ordinary member. We find the same non-materialist suppositions on their opinions of Stalinist personalities again. The conclusion of the "Note de Lecture" on the "Scènes de la vie en rouge, L’Époque de Jeanne Corbin (Scenes of the life in red, the epoch of Jeanne Corbin - free translation)" concludes "Still, the biography of Jeanne Corbin is an important book to understand the strength and weakness of the social movement of this epoch (free translation)" (Ibid). Again, the article wreaks havoc and confusion with the expression "social movement" which is used by Marxologists of all stripes.

What is fundamental for the Communist Left isn't to understand the strength and weakness of the social movement (sic!) but the fact that those Stalinists have introduced positions among workers which, in the name of the Russian Revolution, were means to defend capitalist society. What matters for us is the class point of view. As for the ravings on "what would have been Jeanne's attitude if she still would have been alive", it comes from the most insipid idealism.

Finally, will the GIO/IWG again take Marx out of context to make him say that "nothing human is foreign to us " as it is used in the article, to maybe justify their opportunist positions?

Communist greetings,

Some internationalist communists, Montréal June 2007



C.P. 55514, Succ. Maisonneuve, Montréal, QC

H1W 0A1

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Basic positions of the Internationalist Communists - Klasbatalo!

1 - The October 1917 Russian revolution took the first step toward real communist world revolution in the international revolutionary wave, which put an end to the imperialist war and lasted a few years. The failure of that revolutionary wave, particularly in Germany in 1919-23, condemned the revolution in Russia to isolation and rapid degeneration. The Stalinism that developed during the 20’s and thereafter was only an ideological representation of this degeneration and isolation. It established itself as the gravedigger of the Russian revolution, instituting a state capitalist regime, centrally planned according to the doctrine of “socialism in one country” which we reject.
2 - Since the First World War, capitalism has been a social system in decline. It no longer has anything of progressive value to offer. It has twice plunged humanity into a barbaric cycle of crisis, world war, reconstruction, and new crisis. The theory of decadence is a point of view in dynamic movement that makes it possible to foresee the direction that world capitalism seeks to take.
3 - Contrary to bourgeois as well as Stalinist propaganda, countries of the former Eastern Block, as well as China, North Korea, Cuba, etc., have never been communist. What in fact existed and still exists are countries under a particular form of state capitalism.
4 – Working class participation in the electoral circus and in the various parliaments is the best means the bourgeoisie has found to divert the proletariat from its historic task, the emancipation of all humanity. Just as with fascism, “bourgeois democracy” is a terrain in which the proletariat has no real place.
5 - We view the trade unions as organizations bound by a thousand and one ties to the state by laws, subsidies and dialogue. To change the trade union leadership or to attempt to transform the unions is impossible, inasmuch as their links to the state are organic. This includes the rejection of red or anarchist trade unions.
6 - We reject the tactics of the “united front”, “popular front” and “anti-fascist fronts”. All these tactics enmesh the interests of the proletariat with those of bourgeois factions whatever they may be, and ultimately divert the working class from its revolutionary objectives.
7 - All nationalist ideologies, “national independence”, “right of self determination”, whatever their pretext, ethnic, historical, religious, etc., are a nothing but a drug for workers. Their objective is to make them party to one faction or other of the bourgeoisie, pitting one group of workers against the other, leading them to war.
8 - The working class, and only the working class, is capable of making the communist revolution. Out of necessity, the revolutionary struggle leads the working class into a confrontation with the capitalist state. To destroy capitalism, the working class must overthrow every state and establish the dictatorship of the proletariat worldwide – the international power of the workers councils unifying the entire proletariat.
9 - “Self-management” and the “nationalization” of the economy are not the means to overthrow capitalism, since these do nothing to address capitalist relations of production. They are in fact just forms of capitalism. Communism requires the working class to consciously abolish capitalist social relations and to create a stateless society, without class, without money, without national borders or professional standing armies.
10 - A first step towards this goal is the revolutionary political organization of the class-conscious proletariat, uniting us into an international political party. This party’s role will not be to seize power in the name of the working class, but to participate, to take part in the unification and the extension of its struggles controlled by the workers themselves, in spreading and disseminating the communist program in order to raise proletarian consciousness in its own class. Only the working class in its totality, through its own autonomous bodies, e.g. workers councils, can institute socialism. This task cannot be delegated, not even to the most conscious and capable of class parties.
11 - Revolutionary practice leaves no room for sectarian attitudes and isolationism. Our ideas must be heard within our class. * We see as our mandate to intervene wherever possible, in keeping with our real forces within the various struggles of our class, to participate in the exchange of ideas, in the clarification of the proletarian program, and in building the revolutionary party.