The IBRP

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miles
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Mar 12 2009 16:04
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but by what criteria do you (meaning ICC but also IBRP) judge when they lost it? ernie gave one helpful answer about the loss of an internationalist perspective; but these events (kronstadt, the attacks on anarchists) are earlier.

and, again, i'm not asking for a pinpoint answer, i'm asking about the criteria.

The seeds of the answer are in your question - once a party / organisation stops defending the revolutionary program of the proletariat and starts to defend the state against the workers, this is a step in the process of degeneration.

So internationalism has to be one criteria, as does defence of the dictatorship of the proletariat (as opposed to over the proletariat).

RedHughs
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Mar 12 2009 16:27
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Did Luxemburg leave it too late to leave the SDP? Was the German Left too early is leaving the communists parties? Was the Russian Left too late?

It seems to me that a lot of the judgements on this question are made with the benefit of hindsight or are linked to a kind of fatalism.

The purpose of learning history is what...? I would say that the purpose of learning history is to have ... the benefit of hindsight! Indeed, that phrase "benefit of hindsight" is usually used with "it's easy for you to say" as way of arguing that someone made the best decisions they could and only failed because they lack information. Sure, this may mean that we don't personally condemn those who stayed with the Comintern for making stupid or malicious decisions at the time. But we should be using the "benefit of hindsight" to gain an understanding of how to act in the next revolutionary situation.

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I don't think it was inevitable that either Social Democracy or the Comintern parties were going to betray. It might have been possible to rescue them or for the Left's to believe it was still possible.

The very concept of "betrayal" runs against a materialist analysis in my mind. Can you give a large or small example in history where such a rescue of a "proletarian tendency" has happened? Can you even give plausible scenario for this happening?

The reason for the actions of Social Democracy and the Comintern Stalinism weren't individual failings but the collective power of bureaucracy. Whatever you define as the power of the bureaucracy (state capitalism or whatever), it came to collective power and kept power based on collective social relation - with same dynamics of class power which Marx describes for the rise of the capitalist ruling class in the West. It was not a matter of individual will. And here I mean both the union bureaucracy which shared power in the West as well as the Stalinist bureaucracy which held power in the East.

This whole line of reasoning actually seems less plausible than Trotskyism, sadly. Trotskyists aimed to regain power in the Stalinist nations but based on their being still whole-heartedly in favor of the dictatorship of the bureaucracy - they just wanted an internationalist dictatorship of the bureaucracy.

----

All this said, I don't want to make my point equivalent to a merely moral dismissal of the Bolsheviks based on their being ruthless or overbearing. It seems to me that the benefits of hindsight say that communists of that time needed to be as ruthless as the Bolsheviks but to understand the bureaucratic tendencies that seem to be inherent in ruling hierarchical parties (and yes, I have been told that the Bolsheviks might indeed have very internally democratic even during time of "degeneration". I don't know if this is true but I don't think it changes the fundamental situation).

I would suggest I reading of Debord on this subject:
http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/debord/4.htm

Alex
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Mar 12 2009 17:14

Demagorgon's recent responses have beaten me to it to an extent, and as I'm not a member of the ICC or the IBRP I can't speak for those organisations, but to respond to some of the points made in response to my last post:

Battlescarred wrote:
"One of the lessons is that for Left Communists it’s a principle you fight within an organisation as long as there’s a breath of proletarian life in it,"
Exactly the arguments thar Rosa Luxemburg used to stay within the Social Democrats, so that a split came only in the last stages of World War One and not enough was done to create an independent organisation and break with the mystique of , let alone develop a critique, of social democracy. As a result she was murdered by the reaction led by.....Social Democrats like Noske and Scheidemann.

I agree with Demagorgon's general point about hindsight, but Luxemburg was absolutely right to argue that the left should remain within the party as an organised fraction rather than abandon it to the social patriots after 1914. The bigger question was whether the conditions were yet ripe for the formation of the party. Until they were, it was right for revolutionaries to work in the SPD, as long as they were still able to carry out independent political action. When that was no longer possible, it was necessary to leave.

With hindsight the German communist party was formed too late, but more importantly it was born with many weaknesses on the question of organisation which certainly cannot be laid at Luxemburg’s door. In fact she was probably targeted for repression precisely because she was one of the clearest on the need for a strong organisation.

RedHughs wrote:
If anything, I think the Stalin period shows that when an organization is heading towards counter-revolution, one needs to get out quickly, cut one's losses and be extremely clear and consistent about the weaknesses of that organization that "still has life in it" but has no way of preserving that life and will drag those who put any faith in it down to death, dreck and discredit - we're talking the true horros of 1930's counter-revolution here guys.

Again, for the majority of the Italian Left it was a question of remaining to fight in the International as long as it was possible without ever renouncing their political positions or supporting the Stalinists. As the ICC’s book on the ICL puts it, “The Italian Left never abandoned the battlefield before fighting to the end.” This is a basic position of the Marxist movement.

RedHughs wrote:
Oddly enough, one Italian left communist group, Bilan, was relentlessly and correctly critical of the CNT and its alliance with the Spanish Republican state. The CNT "had plenty of life left in it" in the sense of being a massive proletarian organization, having millions of members who saw their aim as stateless communism. Being critical of the CNT was great but it seems to imply that one would be at least as critical of Comintern.

Yes, the majority of the Italian Communist Left around Bilan was very clear that the CNT, despite having millions of proletarian members, as an organisation was part of the extreme left of the Spanish bourgeoisie and played an active role in demobilising the proletariat. But by 1933, against the Trotskyists, the Italian Fraction had also concluded that the Third International and its parties were definitively dead to the proletariat and the perspective was towards a new world war. The role of the CNT in the massacre of workers in Barcelona only confirmed this position, so there was no contradiction in their approach.

These are all important issues but the real value of this thread seemed to be in helping to clarify points of agreement and disagreement between the IBRP and the ICC so it would still be good to hear back from them.

ernie
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Mar 12 2009 17:15

One of the criteria would be the defence of the autonomy of the proletariat. This was embodied in the soviets and their control of the revolutionary process. It was through the soviets that the proletariat excreted their dictatorship. The ability of the Bolsheviks to be an active and dynamic factor in this process is thus one of the criteria of its revolutionary nature. For us one of the most tragic struggles in the revolution was between the Bolsheviks understanding of this and their increasing integration into the state which demanded that they put the interests of the state before those of the proletariat. This struggle was the centre for most of the discussions and struggles within the Bolshevik party.
Kronstadt was a very powerful and important expression of the growing lose of the ability of the Bolsheviks to put the autonomous interests of the proletariat above those of the state. This suppression, though the majority of the Bolsheviks believed they were faced with defending the revolution, accelerated the degeneration of the party. However, it was also opposed by some of the Communist Left in the party.
The relationship between the Bolsheviks and the various strike movements also expressed this struggle. Lenin defended the need for workers to be able to defend themselves against 'their' state, but on the other hand these strikes clashed with the interests of the state.
The attacks on the anarchists would need a more detailed discussion. But it should not be forgotten that the anarchist also attacked the Bolsheviks: blowing up the party headquaters in 1919 leaving many comrades dead who had given their lives to the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat, also the attempted assassination of Lenin.
For certain many on here will not agree with us of Kronstadt etc but I think the criteria of the defence of and contribution towards proletarian autonomy would be a criteria, like internationalism, that we all could agree on as being a characteristic of any revolutionary organisation.

petey
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Mar 12 2009 18:31

ta to miles and demo, and to ernie who has fleshed out some of the ideas i hear in miles' and demo's answers. it begins to sound as if, even before kronstadt, there was some split between the bolshevik leadership, lured by the chance of power, and the membership, who recognized a genuine workers' movement when they saw one, though i'm not trying to claim that all the leadership went to one side and all the membership to the other.

([pedant]ernie, did you mean "exercised" their dictatorship?[/pedant])

ernie and miles, you're ICC, is that right? so i'd still like to hear the IBRP position on this question.

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fnbrill
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Mar 12 2009 18:33

So does the ICC and CWO see the establishment of state-capitalism under the "workers' state" of the USSR as progressive? sincere question.

ernie
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Mar 12 2009 23:46

very brief reply: no. We see the state as being a conservative social force, which is why we do not defend the conception of the proletarian state. There will be a need for a state in the period of transition but the proletariat has to maintain its autonomy from it, including its armed independence. Big topic but I think this sums up our position.
The CWO defend the position that the state in the period of transition in proletarian, but I think it is better that they explain their position.
In the late 70's we had a discussion on this question and the texts from this are available in our pamphlet on the Period of transition. A minority of comrades defended the conception of the proletarian state but the organisation eventually adopted a resolution defending the position we still hold. The comrades with the minority position continued to defend their position and there may be comrades who still hold this position. We have not discussed it in a long long time so I cannot say.
I hope that helps.

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Alf
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Mar 12 2009 23:50

This article looks at the debate between Lenin and the Left Communist group in 1918 regarding the question of state capitalism. Both sides had insights, both had confusions, but in our view Lenin was most seriously in error in seeing state capitalism as a step towards socialism.

http://en.internationalism.org/icconline/2008/june/1918-errors-02

Intifada1988
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Mar 13 2009 07:08
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We see the state as being a conservative social force, which is why we do not defend the conception of the proletarian state. There will be a need for a state in the period of transition but the proletariat has to maintain its autonomy from it, including its armed independence.

I hate getting caught up with the term 'state.' It has a bourgeois connotation.

What there will be a need for is the proletariat to have executive/legislative bodies that are formed organically on a temporary basis in order to meet the basic needs of the people and avoid famine/chaos.

Also, there is the problem of uneven development in the sense that certain areas will most likely become more insurrectionary than others, based on regional conditions.

Battlescarred
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Mar 13 2009 10:18

The attack on the Bolshevik HQ, whether or not one agrees with it, was a direct response to the murder and impronment of many anarchists and Makhnovists in the Ukraine. So it hardly came out of nowhere. Annd some of those involved in the attack had also "given their lives to the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat" having served many years in Tsarist jails. For example the railway worker Kazimir Kovalevich, who was sent tp prison for many years after the 1905 Revolution. He and Piotr Sobalev had led a group which planned to free Makhnovist prisoners held in the Chekist nest at Kharkhov. However when they got there, they found that the prisoners had all been shot by the Cheka and the Bolsheviks had fled. They then went on to Moscow to exact revenge. Bear in mind also the repression against the strike wave in March 1919, which included the execution of 200 strikers at the Putilov works by the Cheka.

Cleishbotham
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Mar 13 2009 10:36

I am sorry that I have not replied before for the IBRP to all those who directed questions (I just cannot keep up!). Agree with Alf that Lenin was wrong to see state capitalism as progressive. He actually knew it wasn't but he was talking in tems of the situation of the Russian Rev and it was already declining in late 1920. State capitalism as we now know is not a stage on the road to communism but its antithesis (Engels spotted that it was not a step towards socialism but it took the reality of the Russian Revolution to confimr that it was a barrier erected by capitalism to the proletarian movement.

For those asking for all-arching criteria to explain counter-revolutions we are Marxists and not anarchists and, as Korsch so brilliantly demonstrated, we take each situation in its historical specificity (grand word!). There is also another problem in that we can identify with one force or otehr inthe past and still reject some of their actions as we learn from their experience. what I find humbling about the Russ Rev is that thing s we think we thought up as issues which were not solved were actually being debated in much the same way in 1918 as we are debating them now both in and around the Bolshevik party. Mary McAuley's book "Bread and Justice" brings it all back in all its agony (unlike Rabinowitch whose latest book follows the fashionable academic trend to retreat from serious analaysis to liberal polemic she plainly argues inside the working class debate.).

Sympathise with Intifada's "state" comment (and agree with him) which is why we call it a semi-state (as we have no property to defend we think the ICC formula of a state which is outside society (or wherever they locate it) is unecessary and, of course, "idealist".

There are many more issue which people have raised which I would like to take up but you'll have to settle for that for now. I send this uncorrected!

Cleishbotham
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Mar 13 2009 10:36

I am sorry that I have not replied before for the IBRP to all those who directed questions (I just cannot keep up!). Agree with Alf that Lenin was wrong to see state capitalism as progressive. He actually knew it wasn't but he was talking in tems of the situation of the Russian Rev and it was already declining in late 1920. State capitalism as we now know is not a stage on the road to communism but its antithesis (Engels spotted that it was not a step towards socialism but it took the reality of the Russian Revolution to confimr that it was a barrier erected by capitalism to the proletarian movement.

For those asking for all-arching criteria to explain counter-revolutions we are Marxists and not anarchists and, as Korsch so brilliantly demonstrated, we take each situation in its historical specificity (grand word!). There is also another problem in that we can identify with one force or otehr inthe past and still reject some of their actions as we learn from their experience. what I find humbling about the Russ Rev is that thing s we think we thought up as issues which were not solved were actually being debated in much the same way in 1918 as we are debating them now both in and around the Bolshevik party. Mary McAuley's book "Bread and Justice" brings it all back in all its agony (unlike Rabinowitch whose latest book follows the fashionable academic trend to retreat from serious analaysis to liberal polemic she plainly argues inside the working class debate.).

Sympathise with Intifada's "state" comment (and agree with him) which is why we call it a semi-state (as we have no property to defend we think the ICC formula of a state which is outside society (or wherever they locate it) is unecessary and, of course, "idealist".

There are many more issue which people have raised which I would like to take up but you'll have to settle for that for now. I send this uncorrected!

Battlescarred
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Mar 13 2009 10:41

"Yes, the majority of the Italian Communist Left around Bilan was very clear that the CNT, despite having millions of proletarian members, as an organisation was part of the extreme left of the Spanish bourgeoisie and played an active role in demobilising the proletariat. "
So the CNT, involved in insurrections against the Spanish state and ruling class, was the on the extreme left of the Spanish bourgeoisie whilst the German Social-Democracy, heavily invested in parliament and routinist and reformist trade unionism was still a genuine proletarian organisation and one that should not be broken with even though it had fully condoned the First World War including practically all of its MPs ? This beggars belief.

nastyned
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Mar 13 2009 10:56

It's dialectical, innit? wink

Battlescarred
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Mar 13 2009 11:13

It's not as if currents that fought against routinism, parliamentarism and legalism had not existed beforehand within German social democracy. The group which developed such critiques within it were expelled, like that around Johann Most in 1880, followed later by the Jungen group being forced out in 1891. But this only points to the extreme hostility towards such currents within German social democracy and their difficulty in being able to continue to exist within it.
On an international scale, this was reflected in the physical expulsion of anarchists from the London Congress of the Second International, which triggered the departure from social-democracy of such leading figures of the workers movement like the Dutchman Domela Niewenhuis . Niewenhuis already had deep criticisms of the practice of social-democracy re parliament and was an advocate of direct workers struggle. But in the ICC canon, such developments are seen as premature. As Gorter was to state in 1922 :" The difference between him and us marxist revolutionaries is that we are for revolutionary methods in a period of revolution, while he wanted them prematurely". Putting aside the completely mechanistic approach, what are we to make of an outlook that argues that in non-revolutionary times the workers movement must accomodate itself to parliamentarism and reformist trade unionism, leading to a cooption into the state apparatus and with the bourgeoisie, rather than one of preparation for a coming revolutionary period. Either the working class is accommodated to the status quo, as happened in Germany, leading in the long term to the sabotaging of the councils by the very same social- democracy or it is ready to engage in action. Despite my own deep criticisms of the CNT, this was what happened in 1936 with the armed resistance to the Francoist rising.

slothjabber
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Mar 13 2009 11:18

EDIT: Because I was replying to something earlier...

blackdwarf
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Mar 13 2009 11:27
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But it should not be forgotten that the anarchist also attacked the Bolsheviks: blowing up the party headquaters in 1919 leaving many comrades dead ...also the attempted assassination of Lenin.

They should have done it earlier...it would have saved them and the proletarians a lot of pain.

slothjabber
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Mar 13 2009 11:48

And do you think that should have been after the Anarchists and Bolsheviks collaborated in the October Revolution to get Russia out of the war, or before?

petey
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Mar 13 2009 12:40
Cleishbotham wrote:
For those asking for all-arching criteria to explain counter-revolutions we are Marxists and not anarchists

listen, i asked a sincere question, to which others here - ernie, but also demo and miles - were able to give illuminating answers, while you continue with mere snark (case by case indeed - do you apply criteria to those cases or what do you do?). not a strong representation of the position. PS - i'm not an anarchist, so far as I know. er, what are the criteria by which you determine whether someone you've never discussed with is an anarchist?

ernie
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Mar 13 2009 14:21

Petey

I don't think that Cleishbotham is having a go at you personally, but is trying to make a wider point that as Marxists we cannot not be expected to defend an Anarchist position, which is what some people criticise the Communist Left for. On the rest of his post I will leave it to Cleishbotham to explain.
Fully agree with him on Mary McAuley's book "Bread and Justice" . This is an excellent book and really draws out the concrete struggles and discussions that took place. Whether you are a Marxist or Anarchist there is a lot to be learnt from this book.

petey
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Mar 13 2009 14:46
ernie wrote:
Petey

I don't think that Cleishbotham is having a go at you personally, but is trying to make a wider point that as Marxists we cannot not be expected to defend an Anarchist position, which is what some people criticise the Communist Left for.

i'd like to accept that, but i was the one who asked about criteria applied to the actions of the bolshevik party, and he answered ... hastily, let's say, in the course of which he imputed political ideas to me i don't hold, apparently because i described myself as syndicalistically-inclined.

in any event i'll let it go now. but i would like to hear IBRP answers on the topics that ICC members/sympathisers here have already addressed.

Cleishbotham
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Mar 13 2009 20:08

Petey

I told you I was struggling to catch up. I did not know who had raised what and I will get around to replying to the issues that others have raised (you could help by telling me what you think should not be ducked). The ICC have said that 1928 was when we give up on the revolution (I hope I got that right) because by then the communist left had been expelled from the International. I would not disagree (although our comrades who had set up the Committee of Alliance were mostly expelled in 1926 after the Lyons Congress whilst Bordiga did not formally get his explusion until 1930 if I remember correctly) but we have a problem in that we know that there are loads of things that happened both inside Russia and in the International from much earlier which would not put in "criteria" (if you prefer) or positions which would defend as communist today. Does that make sense? It took the CWO quite a while to understand the difference.

For example there was a mistake right at the beginning when the Sovnarkom was set up as a body not directly answerable to the VTsik (Executive of the Soviets). In fact it was a bourgeois Cabinet with a Trotksy spin put on it (Commissars instead of ministers) but even this was debated by elements of the Bol Party in 1918. We have always argued that March 1921 though was a real watershed in which the heart and soul was torn out of the revolution and from that point onwards the last hope lay with an international revolution (as all the main Bols knew). Without it the International was turned into an adjunct of Soviet foreign policy and the united front of 1922 was more to do with that than promoting proletrain revolution.

I am sorry you thought I was being snide but I just thought I was defining a methodological difference between Marxists and anarchists

petey
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Mar 13 2009 21:59
Cleishbotham wrote:
For example there was a mistake right at the beginning when the Sovnarkom was set up as a body not directly answerable to the VTsik (Executive of the Soviets). In fact it was a bourgeois Cabinet with a Trotksy spin put on it (Commissars instead of ministers) but even this was debated by elements of the Bol Party in 1918.

great, thanks, will look further into this, with which i'm not very familiar.

Cleishbotham
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Mar 14 2009 10:45
Rowntree wrote:
I would agree with Cleishbotham that "1921 was the opening of the counter-revolution in Russia". What I can't understand is how agreement on that date, or one a few years later, justifies seperate organisations.

Just feeding through past posts (next time I will read Battlescarred) I came across Rowntree's comments. I just want to clarify that this does not justify separate organisations although it was a one of a number of positions that did separate RP and WR back in 1973. At that point WR encouraged RP to write their own platform which we did. It was 6 pages long but it received a 14 page reply denouncing it from WR under the signature of one Marlowe (now in IP). After this we still continued to discuss until the split between WR and Workers Voice led RP to choose the latter in 1975. Today there is probably no difference at all between the ICC and the IBRP on the question which has long since ceased to be one about dates. In fact what separates us all is precisely what impact the counter-revolution in the 1920s has had on us (and by us I also include the other libcom contributors whose comments show that they don't see the counter-revolution as the communist left do). For example, many of these are "party haters" but we think that a party is essential to the working class but a party which is international first and which has taken on board the lessons of the proletariat's experiences (e.g. the party does not exercise power as such).

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Devrim
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Mar 14 2009 10:53
Battlescarred wrote:
"Yes, the majority of the Italian Communist Left around Bilan was very clear that the CNT, despite having millions of proletarian members, as an organisation was part of the extreme left of the Spanish bourgeoisie and played an active role in demobilising the proletariat. "
So the CNT, involved in insurrections against the Spanish state and ruling class, was the on the extreme left of the Spanish bourgeoisie whilst the German Social-Democracy, heavily invested in parliament and routinist and reformist trade unionism was still a genuine proletarian organisation and one that should not be broken with even though it had fully condoned the First World War including practically all of its MPs ? This beggars belief.

BS makes a good point here. I think it is correct to argue that the CNT had gone over to the side of counter-revolution. Its actions in joining the Catalan Government, and in May 1937 confirm that. It is also correct to argue that the SPD in supporting the First World War had taken the side of the bourgeoisie against the working class.

It doesn't really help us to look back with hindsight and say that 'they should have split then'. They split when they did. We can never know if splitting earlier in Germany would have allowed the communists to have been better organisationally prepared when the revolution came, or if they would have brought even less people out of the Social Democracy. In many ways it is a sterile discussion.

It is also clear to me personally that the people who later became the communist left had an attachment to their organisations, and let's remember that these organisations later became the driving force of counter-revolution.

It is quite possible that this 'attachment' played a negative role in keeping those militants inside of these organisations when it might have been better to split. The left communists had no presence within the CNT. This might go towards explaining, though not justifying, how they managed to be clear about the CNT, but not so clear on their own organisations.

I think it was important for revolutionaries not to split immediately on moral grounds, but to present the arguments to the workers within the organisation and try to draw as many as possible towards you. There is also a time when you have to split. In my opinion it must have been more difficult for revolutionaries in Russia to remain in the RCP in the twenties than for revolutionaries in Italy to remain in the PCI. By the late twenties both were increasingly Stalinised and had the same politics. However, in Italy there were many comrades who didn't really know what was going on in Russia. In the Soviet Union the part was the state, which was directly attacking the working class. In my opinion there is a difference between the two cases.

The ICC believes that communists should stay in organisations that have crossed over to the other side as long as possible in order to win over workers to revolutionary politics.

The question is though how long is possible? Was it, for example, possible to be a communist after Krondstadt? And if it was how long for?

Devrim

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Alf
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Mar 14 2009 14:35

To be more exact: the question is whether or not the entire organisation has gone over to the bourgeoisie. In 1914 certainly the chauvinist wing of social democracy had passed directly into the capitalist camp, but within each party there were still proletarian currents opposing that line, from a more or less clear standpoint. In the mid 20s, although Stalinism was increasingly dominating the CPs, they had not yet succeeded in eliminating all the oppositionists. The necessity for a split is posed at the point that all proletarian life has left the organisation - and of course judging whether or not that moment has arrived is never an easy matter.

What lies behind this discussion though is whether or not you think that a political organisation of communists is absolutely indispensable for the victory of the revolution. If you think it is vital, then you will tend to agree with the necessity to fight to preserve what has been built up so painstakingly by revolutionaries.

petey
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Mar 14 2009 21:24
Alf wrote:
What lies behind this discussion though is whether or not you think that a political organisation of communists is absolutely indispensable for the victory of the revolution.

i'm a member of no group, though there is one group to which i am in general sympathetic. imagine that events started to move in a desirable direction. the members of this group, some of whom have spent many years in observation and participation of class activities, will have well-informed opinions, and even advice, on how things should progress, which will be given through various media and by intervention, however they understand 'intervention.' being syndicalists, they will not claim authority as a group to direct events, and not seek to be given it.

the IBRP are very careful in their press to point out that they are not the party, but are laying the groundwork for the party (or a similar phrase). (i'll guess the ICC think the same about themselves, but i don't mean to put words.) in any event, left-communists would want a party. what would this party do, that the syndicalist group described above would not do? what makes it a 'party'?

Cleishbotham
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Mar 15 2009 11:18

Devrim got to Battlescarred's good question before I did. My answer would be slightly different in that I think the experience of the break with social democracy and then finding themselves in limbo from the Comintern upped the ante and thus the ICL were more aware of the consequences of entering into bourgeois governments or what betraying the working clas meant. The ICL was obviously not so clear about the Spanish War as a whole as it split over the issue. The problem of the ICL was trying to make sense of their own experience (which is where D and I are closer) so that the nature of the USSR was left more open (centrist they called it right up to 1939). Here again this was an entirely new experience - never before had a one time workers revolution turned into its opposite and it took time to come to terms with. Oddly enough the comrades in Mussolini's prisons came to the understanding first (if Damen's original document of 1943 is the first?) but how they achieved this no one has yet told us.

Cleishbotham
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Mar 15 2009 11:32

the IBRP are very careful in their press to point out that they are not the party, but are laying the groundwork for the party (or a similar phrase). (i'll guess the ICC think the same about themselves, but i don't mean to put words.) in any event, left-communists would want a party. what would this party do, that the syndicalist group described above would not do? what makes it a 'party'?

Petey, such a sincere question but it hits at the heart (well I think it does) of the differences between the ICC and the IBRP. It was the issue which divided our last International Conference together. Like you I don't want to put words in the ICC's mouth but I don't know whether (post the splits with IP and all the other councilists) they have moved on.

For the Bureau the working class wide organisationss are the power in any given territory but the Party is international (it has no country) and its leading organs do not take power. However as we are flesh and blood human beings our comrades will be the most active in the class wide organs and will take up posts of responsibility in them. You cannot have communism without communists doing that. Obviously the influence of the communist will have to go beyond their actual numbers and will have to increase in nay area if the revolution is to break with all capitalist hangovers. Like you I hate this word "intervention" since it implies we are outside the working clas . We don't believe a party constituted only on the basis of clever theoreticians are a real party but must be organically linked to the working class (one reason why the CWO is not well know on these boards is many think it is a waste of energy). This is not ouvrierism but common sense - just as you cannot have communism without communists you cannot have a workers party without workers i.e a basic network of communists in the workplace. Now how different that would be to your syndicalist group I don't know but as far as am aware syndicalist see each branch of indutry being taken over and run by the workers. This seems to not hit the central question, not of who runs the factory but who controls the state, or even how do we centralise the planning of production in the stage after the state has withered away? Its along time since I read any syndicalist stuff so correct me if this is a caricature.

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Alf
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Mar 18 2009 10:17

Petey, on the difference between the syndicalist and left communist views, Cleish has raised one aspect which is that for the left communists the revolution is not a matter of just taking over the means of production but of destroying the bourgeois state and organising a proletarian power. This is not to say that we 'claim authority' or want to run that power - it is certainly one of the lessons of the Russian revolution that the party cannot take power on behalf of the workers.

But another key issue - actually quite closely related to this one - is that for us there has to be a clear distinction between the organisation of communists (which comes together around a platform or programme of political positions) and a general organisation of workers, which is open to all proletarians, like a general assembly or workers' council. Without this distinction, both forms of organisation are weakened - the communist organisation because it would have to dilute the clarity of its positions to be open to as many workers as possible, and the assemblies/councils because the blurring of the lines between the political organisation and the general organisation opens the door to the substitution of the latter by the former (or limits the scope of the general organisatioin by demanding that people agree with a certain number of political positions before being able to participate).

We use the term party to describe the organisation of communists when it acquires a real capacity to influence the class movement. Obviously this is not the case at the moment. The future party may not even call itself a party but this doesn't alter the essential issue - the necessity for the communist political minority to be organised in a distinct, collective body.