Tasks of the Communist Minority

A piece on the tasks of communist/ revolutionary minorities.

In the previous four texts, an attempt has been made to draw out what is specific to our times and the kind of organization communists should aspire to. The fight against programmatism in Nihilist Communism and communisation texts like Theorie Communiste and Endnotes describes communist activity in the negative- what we should not be doing. In the present period, we need to discuss what we are to do, how we are going to do it and why. Development of theory has continued since the post-war and post-1968 periods.

“The first step of theory’s advance toward practice takes place within theory itself.” – Provisional Theses for the Discussion of New Theoretico-Practical Orientations of the Situationist International, Internal Text

In this internal SI document, Salvadori argues for a few concrete activities the SI may undertake; written 2 years after the general wildcat strike and occupation wave of May 1968. He calls for a ‘Situationist Manifesto’, supports the Rene-Donatien proposal for a ‘Wildcat Striker’s Handbook’ (to distribute widely during the generalized wildcat strike waves of the central nations’ proletariat of that period). Salvadori writes, “This would be a premise for the Manifesto as well as a follow-up to Student Poverty, in that it might lead to a Strasbourg of the factories.”

“Now that the meaning of the word “Soviet” is understood by everybody, the victory of the communist revolution is assured. The comrades present in this hall saw the founding of the first Soviet republic; now they see the founding of the Third, Communist International (applause), and they will all see the founding of the World Federative Republic of Soviets. (Applause.)” – Lenin, speech delivered to a joint-meeting of the Moscow Soviet, trade unions, RCP(b) and Comintern

Examples of struggle, the forms they take, translate through a variety of means and become implemented by workers internationally. The soviet-form spread in the revolutionary crisis of 1917-1927/36, recently we have seen the general assembly-occupation forms spread the globe in a matter of 3-6 weeks. This was noted by communist groups and pro-revolutionaries from a variety of tendencies and backgrounds; the ICC for instance published a leaflet of the CNT-AIT (F) on the Assembly-form:

“What is a general assembly? (Text of the CNT AIT, Gers)

Definition
We call a general assembly the regular meeting, democratic and sovereign, of workers, regrouped as and when, without criteria, which can be varied (those belonging to a union, a confederation of unions, a social movement). At no point should these workers be prevented from being delegates: the principle of the GA is the vote by head count.
Typology
There are several types of GA:

The GA of a single union
The combined GA of several unions
The GA of workers on strike

Moreover, it can be limited to a single profession or be ‘inter-professional’. [Regrouping those from many professions – trans.]
Functioning of the GA

The GA is democratic, and therefore guarantees each a turn to speak, shared equally in terms of duration and discussion topics. This is guaranteed by a mandate given to the moderator.
Speeches must also be consistent with an agenda, agreed at the beginning of the meeting, which does not include various decision points.
The GA is sovereign, and decisions are made by a show of hands, without any overturning of decisions, according to the agenda.
The GA meets regularly and keeps a record of its debates and decisions. The record is kept by a secretary appointed early in the meeting, who ensures the debates and decisions of the GA are made public. The GA gives the date and place of the next GA.

Threats to the GA

Monopolisation of debate: The GA becomes un-democratic. The classic case is the shop-steward who takes the role of moderator, participates in discussions or responds systematically giving their opinions. A variation on this is a participant in the room who monopolises the floor or speaks too often.
The handling of the debate: The agenda is not respected. When the debate is moving precisely towards direct action, or a motion to renew the strike, the agenda is changed in order to blur the clarity of discussion, and to confuse the whole point of a GA, which is to answer the question “What and how?”
Lack of democracy within the GA: the vote is not respected. Violating the agenda, votes are taken several times on decisions already made. Often, manipulation occurs at the end of the meeting, to destroy its coherence and audacity.
Neutralisation of the GA: there is no alternative to a GA, however rich. Often, a GA of striking workers is treated as a safety-valve for their anger, neutralising their revolt, transforming their militancy into a sterile talking-shop. Be on guard! In a GA, we have all the tools at hand to see if they are being monopolised, manipulated, and neutralised. In all cases, failure to denounce the above threats will undermine our activity, our words, and our decisions: in short, our very reason to go on strike!

“The emancipation of the workers will be the task of the workers themselves”
SIA 32 (Member of the CNT-AIT).“

In the same time period, we witnessed an IWW member influence a central labor council to pass 2 general-strike related motions; one of which put forward the need to draft educational materials about the general strike, something which was published by the IWW:

“In essence, a general strike is the complete and total shutdown of the economy. A general strike can last for a day, a week, or longer depending on the severity of the crisis, the resolve of the strikers, and the extent of public solidarity. During the strike, large numbers of workers in many industries (excluding employees of crucial services, such as emergency/medical) will stop working and no money or labor is exchanged. All decisions regarding the length of the strike, the groups of workers who continue working, and demands of the strikers are decided by a strike committee.”

http://www.madison.iww.org/content/general-strike-pamphlet

This is one such task that the communist minority must take responsibility for: propagandizing and producing educational materials on the forms and contents of struggle, for our times and related to recent experience of the class struggle, with the theory of contemporary communists interwoven in the documents. In Part IV of ‘Organization of the Communist Minority’, an attempt was made to link the nature of the class struggle in the present period to the period prior to the institutionalization of the mechanism’s of mediation of the class struggle. A study of the theories of that period, and a review of communist theory and practice of that period, a balance sheet of the experience of the epoch of the Paris Commune to February 1917, is needed to ground theory and practice to the lived experience of the working-class and the thin red line linking present day communists to those who animated struggles of their era.

In Bilan Issue #1, the Italian Communist Left in Exile wrote:

“The left factions will be able to transform itself into a party only if the differences between the degenerate party and the situation of the proletariat, the whole system of class relations that emerged from the victory of the centrist (ie, Stalinism) within the (communist) parties in question (p. 21).” - Toward the 2 3/4 International?

We have to ask ourselves that since the preconditions for the formation of the next International have been met (the fall of the Comintern parties and their losing of influence in the class, and a return to autonomous class struggles) that not only do we organize ourselves into the Party, but also define the kinds of party-work we should be doing, concisely define (from the lessons of the Third International and the experience of the post-war communist minority) what we expressly will not be doing, and begin to engage with each other as the creative participants of the next revolutionary crisis.

Expressing theory through the facilitation of the class struggle in the form of a pamphlet is an example of ‘party-work’, and the need for it has been expressed by several workers organizations that have not crossed into the left of capital- we must be up to the task.

-Occupied/Communist Party

Posted By

klas batalo
Apr 10 2013 07:08

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