The IBRP

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Intifada1988
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Mar 2 2009 21:49

If I could, I wanna pose some theoretical questions...

as I mentioned earlier, I've been in contact with some sections of Internationalism here in the US. weve had some good email correspondences. they basically wrote me a pamphlet for a reply (thanks, big up!), but raised a few points that I thought might be worthy of debate:

1. I've been told by the ICC that the working class' most 'politically advanced' sections will form organizational structures that will lead to the formation of a world communist party. Essentially, in my opinion, this is the same type of Leninism I've witnessed in communist parties that in the eyes of the ICC could come across as the communist 'right'. A federated world party that is founded during a crisis period is no different than a so-called 'communist party' operating now if this 'politically advanced minority' is made up of petty-bourgeois intellectuals. This does nothing for the everyday worker, who must take it up him/herself to gain an organic individual awareness through an educational process-- one 'taught' or perpetuated by more dedicated Marxist revolutionaries. I realize the 'teacher-student' dynamic is not the best, because there is class domination present especially in the classroom of the state. But a revolutionary, proletarian educational process is void of this exploitation, that structure of professor and professee, the worker themselves must be their own teacher/student, its a dialectical process. At the point of epiphany where a human-being crosses some sort of mental threshold when he/she becomes aware of class domination, if this person does not feel in many ways personally involved in this realization, Marxist revolutionaries will come across as nothing more the the salesmen of political ideology no different from Al Sharpton, Pat Robertson, Rush Limbaugh, Ron Paul, or the local grand wizard.

2. An ICC comrade might stop me at the point where I am comparing existing communist parties to the future 'world communist party', or 'international party of the proletariat' (call it what you want). They'd say the party they are working towards establishing will come out of international conferences. they''ll be supported by organic proletarian proto-structures/organizations. to this I would say, who are you kidding? To me, this is reckless idealism. Any self-described Marxist with a level head in today's political reality would tell you that the average (American) worker puts communist revolutionaries in the same camp as the neo-fascist, or the klansmen, or to the other end of it-- Christian missionaries. Just listen to Alex Jones, or that Zeitgeist shit. They all seem a little too dedicated to the ideology they are attempting to 'sell' to the working class.

The communist left is so theoretically fractured and practically incapable that people are accusing others of 'parasitism', and slinging insults like an embarresed twelve year old. now is not the time for ego measuring. Most of the arguements being made are praxisally irrelevant, especially concerning getting working class people involved in their own self-educational process. Most of these questions should be debated in revolutionary workers organizations, not by dedicated Marxists on the internet. Ya feel me?!

Cleishbotham
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Mar 2 2009 23:21

Intifada

I thought we had lost you (as we had nearly lost ourselves!).You have hit one almighty truth - the world proletarian party will come from a movement of the proletariat. Proclamations by groups of intellectuals (even if they are the offspring or proles of workers) are empty without a real movement. Shug gets near the point when he says that so much of theory has been about nothing because it is not about practical politics in the working class. This is one reason why we have always called ourselves the IBRP - we recognise the working class has to have a centrally organised international party but we cannot be it. All we can do now is try to establish a sane basis for understanding what the tasks of the revolutionary working class are and intervene where we can (if you look on our website you will see what our very young Italian comrades did at Pomigliano). What is frightening is that this crisis of capitalism is not a blip - the chickens are coming home to roost and if there are spontaneous outbursts of the working class soon which beg bigger questions we are not ready. Right now if socialism or barbarism is the choice then barbarism wins. Fortunately if this crisis develops like say 1929-33 we may be able to grow up with an unfolding movement (though there is no guarantee of that either) ...

Intifada1988
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Mar 3 2009 00:32

Comrade:

Thank you for that.

Aside from giving me something I've been waiting to hear from ANYONE on the left, you raise what in my opinion is the most critical question we Marxists are faced with today.

You said that this crisis of capitalism is not a blip. I could not agree more. And this is just the tip of the iceberg that could sink this boat. But look at the anti-capitalist left! In the US especially its completely ineffective. Disheartening. Depressing. Alarming.

The danger of the working class missing revolutionary/insurrectionary opportunities due to a lack of awareness is very real. One thing is for sure, capital is pushing the limits of capitalist democracy. If the working class misses its opportunity in this cycle, I think the consequence will be having to deal with a much more despotic Ruling class in whatever the next cycle (if you could even call it that) would be. Think Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower type shit. Race wars. Feudalistic chaos. A general breakdown of the presents social framework. Barbarism.

In the face of that, we Marxists are more actively engaged in counter-revolutionary hissy fits than we are organizing fellow workers. We MUST combine our efforts and resources to awaken a class consciousness within the working class. Once a effective proletarian movement gains momentum, we will win. We've learned too much from our past mistakes. And once we get to the point where millions, even billions of workers are having this very same conversation found in this thread...we will win. Remember the working class takes up arms when capitalist government has nothing more to offer the worker. We are closely approaching this reality.

ONE MORE THING! You cannot forget the ecological constraints! Abstract them from the social framework. It is then a general crisis of humanity even! Capitalist democracy doesn't have it in itself to continue its wasteful nature. If there is any breakthrough in Green/Nuclear technology (no need for alarm! read about Boron nukes, they burn their own waste and have many other benefits) they will be monopolized. Most likely by the state, bringing us closer to despotic, corporate fascism. Remember Mussolini, 'Fascism is the perfect merger between capital and the state.' Don't get it twisted!

Cleishbotham
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Mar 3 2009 11:31

Intifada

I am going to be away for few days and cannot reply to your mail properly. For now our big problem is that there is not a sufficient or coordinated movement of the class for us to be able to fight for a communist perspective inside. Obviously as this crisis develops (and it took 4 years for the 1929 Crash to reach a 25% meltdown of the world economy but we could get there in 2009 even with the state in every country pouring billions of printed notes into the equation) then there will be more resistance. However not evn this is a given since the unemployment often leads to demoralisation. We need to try to understand what is going on and be ready to act whatever our current strength and whatever is appropriate a the time.

Hope this makes sense as I write in haste.

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Rojillo Ibérico
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Mar 3 2009 19:21

I'm ICC's sympathizer, but doens't agree with any kind of sectarianism: I do thing IBRP are comrades. Anyway I feel closer to origins of ICC (Group Internationalism) than IRBP (PCInt) I'll read all the arguments but without prejudices or dogmatism. The future World's Communist Party won't be and only current agrupation, but nowadays differents currents must continue discussion and avoid agrupations without principles.

I've translated articles of IRBP to Spanish and I've published em at "leftists" forums.

Revolutionary salutes

ernie
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Mar 3 2009 20:38

Just a short reply to a point by by Cleishbotham ealier concerning our analysis of the Lindsey strike

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The ICC also mentions that "workers of the World Unite" was promoted at the end of the strike. But they dont' say that it was the last line of Keith Gibson's speech at the acceptance meeting.

The reason we reported the slogan of "workers of the world unite!" appear towards the end of the struggle was because of the reports in the Guardian on the 4th Feb of such posters appearing and others saying about foreign workers joining the struggle at other sites. It had nothing to do with Gibbon's speech which we have only come across today.

We also based our analysis of a development amongst a minority of the strikes of challenge to the weight of nationalism, on the appearance of the banner calling on the Italian workers to join the struggle.

As for the question of the Polish workers, Cleishbotham is right to raise the question of the numbers involved the various reports are not clear. However, to say it was a myth is pushing things a bit. particularly when you remember that Polish workers at the Langage site joined the struggle of the worker workers on the site when 18 workers were laid off and the Union tried to blame them. You had the ridiculous sight of the union official trying to say that this was a struggle for British Jobs for British workers, whilst striking Polish workers were stood near by.

We can certainly discuss whether we overestimated this struggle or not, but we should impute false ideas or omissions to each others positions

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Alf
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Mar 3 2009 23:21

Last line should read 'should not impute false ideas', of course.

In response to Intifada:

I've been told by the ICC that the working class' most 'politically advanced' sections will form organizational structures that will lead to the formation of a world communist party. Essentially, in my opinion, this is the same type of Leninism I've witnessed in communist parties that in the eyes of the ICC could come across as the communist 'right'.

What do you mean by 'Leninism'?

Intifada1988
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Mar 4 2009 01:07

Alf:

By 'Leninism' I was referring to certain conceptions of the revolutionary/vanguard/party that Lenin put forth in pieces like WITBD? and also the quoted writings of Kautsky-- i.e. class consciousness is something from outside that must be introduced into the working class.

It would be wrong to assume that workers are not aware of their exploitation, and that all they are ever capable of gaining is a trade-union consciousness or an 'economist' program.

Also, phrases like 'most advanced minorities' put me off. I don't think there's much of a practical difference between those who say the vanguard is the 'brain' of the working class, and those who equate the 'most advanced' sections' of the working class to a vanguard. To say that academics, whose gross income falls in the range of middle class salary, are apart of the working class is to me a fallacy. A proletarian is someone who only has their labor-power to sell or offer. A middle class academic has his car, his house, his tenure, his contracted, monthly wages, security. A lower class worker lives paycheck to paycheck, with only pennies to spare. His/her subsistence is more at the whim of the market. To me, this equates to different experiences, different skill sets and therefore different practical capabilities. The division between mental and manual labor is a big part of this distinction.

The question is what does this mean for the DOTP, for the seizure of political power by the proletariat? I couldn't say right now, it would take some thinking, but I think it's crucially important that it is actually the workers organic structures who take executive and legislative authority. I know how anti-capitalist groups that exist now are. We all have our own programs and ideas made up in our head that we think would be the best in a revolutionary situation. The reality is, no one can/should say exactly how a revolutionary, anti-capitalist workers movement will be constituted.

Some people see the communist militant as a Jedi knight from Star Wars. The force is 'just stronger' in certain people. This logic maintains the capitalist divisions of mental/manual labor, and goes against basic Marxist principle.

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Alf
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Mar 4 2009 09:33

Intifada, thanks for your response.

The Kautskyist idea, which Lenin adopted for the sake of polemic in WITBD? but then had second thoughts on, according to which socialism is the product of the intellectuals, is of course alien to marxism, which considers the working class to be a revolutionary class and thus capable of generating its own revolutionary consciousness. But the working class does not develop its consciousness in a homogeneous manner and there is no doubt that outside of a revolutionary situation those holding revolutionary ideas and programmes will only be a small minority of the class. It's in this sense that we can talk about 'the most advanced sections' of the class, even if the revolutionaries themselves can get left behind by the new upsurges of the working class and need to constantly reinterpret their positions in the light of the collective practice of the class as a whole. This evidently applies to the problem of the dictatorship of the proletariat: the soviets that appeared in the revolutions of the first part of the 20th century were not invented in advance by a small group of revolutionaries, but emerged directly from the mass strike movement. The clearest revolutionaries then grasped the significance of these bodies and their own theoretical contributions helped take class consciousness a further step forward.

I don't see what this has to do with 'academics'. Revolutionaries can come from different sectors of the working class - manual, 'white collar' etc - and 'sociologically', from strata oustide the working class. What makes them revolutionaries is their political positions and practice.

baboon
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Mar 5 2009 15:02

Cleish,
Above the IBRP enumerates a fair number of disagreements that it has with the ICC and it's quite right that these shouldn't be "swept under the carpet", rather faced with a view to clarification.
But wouldn't it be in the interests of this clarification if first of all the IBRP could outline its general areas of agreement with the ICC?

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shug
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Mar 6 2009 13:59

Earlier in this thread, I made a crack about it being time the IP reviewed their past practice whilst in the ICC. It's now been pointed out to me that they did just that back in IP35 (Spring 1999). See http://internationalist-perspective.org/IP/ip-archive/ip_35_chernier.html
Oops.

nastyned
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Mar 6 2009 14:55

Yes, but IP are missing the point that Chénier was a police spy or in the pay of the bourgeoisie or a menshevik or a white guardist or something...

ernie
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Mar 6 2009 16:19

We said he was a Dubious element, whilst Cleish said he was a shady element. We also gave concrete reasons for this analysis. We never said he was a state agent.
Nastyned are you saying a group which has experienced the destructive work of dubious element, that it should show no solidarity with other revolutionaries by warning them of this element? Have you read the reason why we described this character as dubious? If so could you explain what parts you do not agree with? For the ICC it is a matter of proletarian solidarity to warn others comrades about such elements. Mock if you want, but our concern is and was to defend other internationalists and to allow them to draw on our painful experience; and not to allow such elements a free hand to carry out their destructive work.

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fnbrill
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Mar 7 2009 01:47

The ICC gave pretty clear inferences that Chenier was a police spy. From my perspective at the time - I was an ICC candidate member - Chenier was one of those somewhat loose cannons who bounce from one organization to the next. They are not uncommon. Again, what I saw happen was the ICC overreact to a small split of some small time members.

Lurch
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Mar 7 2009 10:20

The day after the massive surveillance, recording and cataloguing of GB ‘activists’ was confirmed in the Guardian’s front page headline http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/mar/06/police-surveillance-protesters-journalists-climate-kingsnorth ;

in a week when the bosses’ blacklist of militants in the building trade is confirmed; http://libcom.org/forums/news/construction-industry-blacklist-seized-05032009

on a board where anarchists in New Zealand find one of their close confidants had been a police spy for a decade http://libcom.org/forums/oceania/cop-informant-exposed-after-10-years-anarchist-circles-17122008 ....

I find the querulous reaction of some posters to the idea that their organisations might have been/are infiltrated by the state quite incredible.

Certainly solidarity amongst comrades must reign, and no organisation should be paralysed by paranoia. But to pretend it isn’t going on – hasn’t been going on since the beginning of the workers’ movement – is simply stupid. I can only conclude that the state takes militants of the working class a lot more seriously than some of them do themselves.

This is supposed to be a thread about the IBRP – sure, and its relations with other organisations. It should get back there.

nastyned
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Mar 7 2009 10:47

Don't try and muddy the water Lurch or are you saying Chenier was a police spy?

Lurch
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Mar 7 2009 11:40

Muddying the waters? Perhaps that’s your own reflection you’re seeing.

Calling Cheniere a police spy? I have absolutely no idea whether the man was in the pay of the state or not.

I do believe that his behaviour was destructive and incompatible with being in a left-communist organisation – any proletarian organisation; that the ICC was correct to warn others of this fact, as Ernie says above and that today, there seems to be some agreement on this between the ICC and the IBRP.

You know different? Start another thread.

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miles
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Mar 7 2009 11:41

How is Lurch 'muddying' the water? The discussion was moving onto (again) the issue of state surveillance, this time of political groups and Lurch tried (succesfully in my opinion) to string together several threads that are current, and their possible connection to this one.

Quote:
This is supposed to be a thread about the IBRP – sure, and its relations with other organisations. It should get back there.

The point here is that the original question posed by Intifada was that he had been in contact with Internationalism (the ICCs section in the US) and had questions about the relationship between us and the IBRP. There are impotant political discussions to be had, some of which have a long history. But the fixation on one thing which happened says, IMO, something more about you than us.

The Chenier events were something the ICC has never denied, refused to discuss etc, in fact the very opposite, most other groups refuse to discuss the issue of state infiltration, saying things like "Oh why should the bourgeiosie care about us, we're just a tiny group?"

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shug
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Mar 7 2009 12:45

Despite Lurch's attempt to curtail the way this thread has gone, it is touching on important questions on the milieu, and how it's constituents relate to each other. While I accept that raking over the events of 30 years ago is probably a fruitless exercise (given the ICC's refusal to examine its own behaviour) some of the statements made above really can't be left unchallenged. Ernie writes:

Quote:
We said he was a Dubious element, whilst Cleish said he was a shady element. We also gave concrete reasons for this analysis.

Despite REPEATED requests by a number of WR sections for evidence of the claims being made at that time, NONE was offered. Instead we were told to trust the central organs, and eventually were asked to make what amounted to a loyalty oath. This led to a significant number of WR's membership leaving, NONE of whom were in the so-called 'Chenier faction' or had had ANY contact with Chenier. Anyone at all interested in this sad and damaging episode should perhaps look at the CBG's archive for an alternative account to some of the guff being spouted above.

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Mar 7 2009 13:08

The splitters in 1981 left the ICC in two stages. For the group closest to Chenier, it was the very act of stealing the organisation's material from a comrade's house (mine, as it happened) that constituted their act of splitting. The rest essentially left in reaction to the ICC's actions to recuperate the material - although there were considerable differences in these reactions, with the Aberdeen group distinguishing itself by threatening to call the police if the ICC recuperation team appeared at their houses.

The ICC carried out a thorough investigation into Chenier's destructive trajectory through a series of political organisations and the commission charged with this work published its findings to the extraordinary international conference of early 1982. By this time Chenier's defenders were no longer in the organisation.

A lot more could be said. But this began as a discussion about the IBRP and I agree with Lurch that if people want to discuss the issue of 1981 it should be on a separate thread.

Cassady
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Mar 7 2009 17:18

We are losing the point of the discussion by fixating on whether or not Chenier was a police spy. Though it is worth noting that no tangible evidence was ever produced, either inside the ranks of the ICC, to the milieu outside or in the public press despite repeated requests to, and repeated promises by, the ICC. Draw your own conclusions. The point is that this was a pattern of behaviour consistently displayed by the ICC when confronted with internal debate which proved too difficult for them to handle. Hence we were to see the "discovery" in subsequent years of "thieves", "parasites", and even at one pont "Masons", all from inside of the ranks of the ICC. Many of these disputes date from as much as 25 years ago. It is useless and exhausting trying to debate with them at this level.

Today, more than ever, we are confronted by a compelling need to maximise and co-ordinate our weak and fragmented forces in order to intervene within the coming class struggles. This can only be done by finding a way of organisation which can genuinely contain discussion and differences without being confronted at every point with the accustion that we are agents of the bourgeoisie. This is the task of the upcoming Birmingham meeting. I hope that the ICC can find a way to make a meaningful contribution to this. On their past record that remains doubtful.

Intifada1988
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Mar 7 2009 18:43

Getting back on track..

Touching on what Cassady said-- I think there is a way to contain and also allow disagreements/discussions without neutralizing the effectiveness of an organization. The communist left, the ICC and IBRP, we all agree on some very key points. I think if these were organized into a clear, concise group of organizational principles not to be compromised, that those 'by-laws' would keep a future international proletarian party ideologically and practically effective. I've seen the points discussed at the international conferences. I feel as though we need more basic points of agreement that ultimately originate within theory, but are simple and easy for the common person to undertake. I feel like actions/ideas of any proletarian group should: strengthen the working-class community, challenge the power of the state and ruling class, and demonstrate functions (i.e. direct votes) that will be present in the society for which we are struggling.

1ngram
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Mar 7 2009 18:29

As Shug says a more truthful account of these shenanigans camn be found in the pages of early issues of the Communist Bulletin here: http://cbg.110mb.com/ and as Cassady says the development of this pattern of behaviour by the iCC is documented in im Open Letter available here on LibCom: http://libcom.org/history/open-letter-international-communist-current.

Its worth pointing out that all the masonic conspirators, police agents, anarchist clans and parasites that the ICC invented didn't disappear once their "evil careers" ended, though some have left political life. Having failed in their alloted task to destroy Gods gift to the proletariat one would have expected them to fade back into the subterranean depths of the state apparatus from whence they came, happy to get away with being just called 'not necessarily police agents' like Martov and Bakunin. But in fact they are all mostly around. The masonic conspirators are still active in revolutionary politics in France, the "centrists towards councilism" became IP, the parasites and (latterly) thieves became the CBG, the anarchist clan members likewise are still revolutionaries and even Chenier, who doesn't seem to have been involved in political life for the past twenty odd years still visits ex-ICC members with his wife and children in Britain. Though many good militants were so disgusted by the ICC's arrogance, lies and vituperation that they abandoned political life altogether, many others continued and continue to work for the revolutionary transformation of capitalism.

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fnbrill
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Mar 7 2009 19:19

Ingram don't forget us down here in the swamp.

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miles
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Mar 7 2009 21:39

What's most interesting about this thread is that the title and topic is 'The IBRP' and what we have is a sustained attack on... the ICC, by all sorts of people, some of whom specialise in this very area. Ironically enough, the ICC is sometimes accused of derailing/disrupting threads....

As Intifada1988 says :

Quote:
Getting back on track..
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miles
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Mar 7 2009 23:16

dp

nastyned
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Mar 8 2009 10:39

It's the nature of internet forums that they wander. Paid agents of the bourgeoisie are not necessarily involved in causing this! wink

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miles
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Mar 8 2009 11:06
Quote:
It's the nature of internet forums that they wander. Paid agents of the bourgeoisie are not necessarily involved in causing this! wink

I agree you don't need to be a "paid agent" to carry a grievance or enmity around. The point I was trying to make was on how some posters were using this thread to pretend to make common cause with the IBRP in order to attack the ICC.

baboon
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Mar 8 2009 20:31

There was no "tangible evidence" (a loaded phrase in this debate) that Chenier was a police spy because no one ever said he was one. He wasn't disciplined enough to be a police spy - though we should always be aware that there are those that are, as the history of the workers' movement shows.
Fribrill, a critique of the ICC here, sums him up exactly: "a loose cannon". A loose cannon is dangerous, a threat to all. He went from organisation to organisation. He stirred up trouble in the ICC, it came to the attention of the organisation and the threat was met. He mixed up his activities with those expressing political differences, which themselves were being discussed internationally and urgently (it was a time of much class struggle and thus very testing).
But the real lesson of the struggle against Chenier is one of the defence of revolutionary organisation. The discussion around this was deep, international and as thorough as it could be. All the section and international meetings discussed, took positions and voted. The vast majority of the organisation expressed the need for its defence.

Or are there those on here, apparantly there is, who don't agree with the defence of revolutionary organisation, that any behaviour can be tolerated? Any revolutionary organisation that didn't defend itself faced with a threat wouldn't be worth a toss.

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Rowntree
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Mar 11 2009 00:31

I would agree with Alf that this thread has been unfairly hi-jacked.
Can we debate somewhere else? Without resort to slander?
The piece of equipment taken from Alf's home was removed by a trusted comrade who had regular, routine access. Although not an intrusion, it was a foolish mistake that should have been corrected. I believe that the individual involved later "apologised" and rejoined the ICC.
Chenier was simply a "Guru" looking for a group to dominate - there have been others who have behaved very similarly before and since (inevitable given tiny, isolated grouplets).
I attended an ICC Public meeting in Manchester in 1981 with Alf and another comrade; at it some members of the "Tendency" announced their departure (in a "localist" direction). After the meeting (in the back of a car) Alf outlined how he felt the organisation would deal with the crisis, and how we would keep the ICC functioning in the North of England and Scotland. Everything he said made sense. Unfortunately the Central Organ decided to go in another direction, and that is why I left.
It seems so long ago. Surely time to move on and break away from the sect mentality?