Part 1: building on the work of our 23rd Congress
At its 23rd International Congress, the ICC made it clear that we have to draw a distinction between the concept of the balance of forces between the classes, and the concept of the historic course. The first applies to all phases of the class struggle, in ascendance as well as decadence, whereas the second only to decadence and then only in the period between the lead-up to the First World War and the collapse of the eastern bloc in 1989. The idea of a historic course only makes sense in phases where it becomes possible to predict the general movement of capitalist society towards either world war or decisive class confrontations. Thus, in the 1930s, the Italian Left was able to recognise that the prior defeat of the world proletariat in the 1920s had opened a course towards World War Two, while after 1968 the ICC was correct to argue that, without a frontal defeat of a resurgent working class, capitalism would not be able to enlist the proletariat for a Third World War. By contrast, in the phase of decomposition, product of a historic stalemate between the classes, even if world war has been taken off the agenda for the foreseeable future by the disintegration of the bloc system, the system can slide into other forms of irreversible barbarism without a head-on confrontation with the working class. In such a situation, it becomes much more difficult to recognise when a “point of no return” has been reached and the possibility of a proletarian revolution has been buried once and for all.
But the “unpredictability” of decomposition by no means signifies that revolutionaries are no longer concerned with assessing the global balance of forces between the classes. This point is obviously affirmed by the title of the 23rd Congress resolution on the class struggle: “Resolution on the balance of forces between the classes”. There are two key elements of this resolution which we need to stress here:
1. “in the balance of forces between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, it is always the ruling class that is on the offensive, except in a revolutionary situation” (point 9). At certain moments the defensive struggles of the working class may be able to push back the attacks of the bourgeoisie, but in decadence the tendency is for such victories to become increasingly limited and short-lived: this is a central factor in ensuring that the proletarian revolution becomes a necessity as well as a possibility in this epoch;
2. The primary means to “measure” the balance of forces is the observation of the tendency for the working class to develop its class autonomy and pose its own solution to the historic crisis of the system. In short, the tendency towards politicisation – the development of class consciousness to the point where the working class understands the necessity to confront and overthrow the political machinery of the ruling class and replace it with its own class dictatorship.
These themes are the “red thread” running through the resolution, as announced in the opening section:
“By the late 1960s, with the exhaustion of the post-war economic boom and in the face of deteriorating living conditions, the working class had re-emerged on the social scene. The workers’ struggles that exploded on an international scale put an end to the longest period of counter-revolution in history, opening a new historical course towards class confrontations, thus preventing the ruling class from putting in place its own response to the acute crisis of capitalism: a Third World War. This new historical course had been marked by the emergence of massive struggles, particularly in the central countries of Western Europe with the May 1968 movement in France, followed by the ‘hot autumn’ in Italy in 1969 and many others such as Argentina in spring 1969 and Poland in winter 1970-71. In these massive movements, large sectors of the new generation who had not experienced war once again raised the perspective of communism as a real possibility.
In connection with this general movement of the working class in the late 1960s and early 1970s, we must also highlight the international revival, on a very small but no less significant scale, of the organized communist left, the tradition that remained faithful to the flag of world proletarian revolution during the long night of counter-revolution. In this process, the constitution of the ICC represented an important impetus for the communist left as a whole.
Faced with a dynamic towards the politicisation of workers’ struggles, the bourgeoisie (which had been surprised by the May 1968 movement) immediately developed a large-scale and long-term counter-offensive in order to prevent the working class from providing its own response to the historical crisis of the capitalist economy: the proletarian revolution”.
The resolution then traces in broad lines how the bourgeoisie, the Machiavellian class par excellence, used all the means at its disposal to block this dynamic:
- “In an initial period, by offering the working class a purely bourgeois political alternative. In the late 60s and early 70s, by derailing its aspirations towards the false dawn of left wing governments capable of humanising capitalism and even bringing in a socialist society, and from the late 70s onwards, through the division of labour between a hard right in power carrying out the brutal reductions in working class living standards demanded by the economic crisis, and a ‘left in opposition’ better placed to soak up the threat posed by the waves of struggle that characterised this period;
- The extensive use of the extreme left of capital (Maoists, Trotskyists etc) to recuperate the growing search for political answers by a significant minority of the new generation;
- The use of radical trade unionism and even ‘extra union’ forms of organisation manipulated by the extreme left to derail the workers’ growing disenchantment with the trade unions and the danger of workers arriving at a political understanding of the role of trade unions in the decadent epoch;
- The use of corporatist and nationalist ideology to isolate important workers’ struggles and, where necessary, to crush them through direct state repression (cf the miners’ strike in Britain and, on a much bigger scale, the mass strike in Poland in 1980);
- The conscious re-organisation of global production and exchange which took flight from the 1980s onwards: the policy of ‘globalisation’, though fundamentally determined by the need to respond to the economic crisis, also contained a directly anti-working class element in that it sought to break up traditional centres of proletarian combativity and undermine class identity;
- Turning the very decomposition of capitalist society against the working class. Thus, the tendency towards ‘every man for himself’ magnified in this new phase was used to reinforce social atomisation and corporatist divisions. Above all, the collapse of ‘really existing socialism’ in the Eastern bloc was the launch-pad for a gigantic campaign around the death of communism, which deepened and extended the difficulties of the working class to develop its own revolutionary perspective”.
While these difficulties were already growing in the 1980s – and were at the root of the stalemate between the classes – the events of 1989 not only definitively opened up the phase of decomposition but brought about a profound retreat in the class at all levels: in its combativity, in its consciousness, in its very capacity to recognise itself as a specific class in bourgeois society. Furthermore, it accelerated all the negative tendencies of social decomposition which had already begun to play a role in the previous period: the cancerous growth of egoism, nihilism and irrationality which are the natural products of a social order which can no longer offer humanity any perspective for its future.
The resolution from the 23rd conference, it should be noted, also reaffirms that, despite all the negative factors of the phase of decomposition weighing on the scales, there were still signs of a proletarian counter-tendency. In particular, the students’ movement against the CPE in France in 2006, and the Indignados movement in Spain in 2011, together with the re-emergence of new elements looking for genuinely communist positions, provide concrete evidence that the phenomenon of the subterranean maturation of consciousness, the digging of the “Old Mole”, still operates in the new phase. The quest of a new generation of proletarians to understand the impasse of capitalist society, the renewed interest in previous movements which had raised the possibility of a revolutionary alternative (1917-23, May 68 etc) confirmed that the perspective of a future politicisation had not been drowned under the sludge of decomposition. But before advancing any further towards a better understanding of the balance of class forces in the last decade or so, and above all in the wake of the Covid pandemic, it is necessary to go deeper into what exactly is meant by the term politicisation.
Part 2. The meaning of politicisation
Throughout its history, the marxist vanguard of the workers’ movement has fought to clarify the inter-relationship between different aspects of the class struggle: economic and political, practical and theoretical, defensive and offensive. The profound connection between the economic and the political dimensions were emphasised by Marx in his first polemic with Proudhon:
“Do not say that social movement excludes political movement. There is never a political movement which is not at the same time social.
It is only in an order of things in which there are no more classes and class antagonisms that social evolutions will cease to be political revolutions”
This polemic continued in the days of the First International in the struggle against the doctrines of Bakunin. In this period, the need to affirm the political dimension of the class struggle was mainly linked to the struggle for reforms, and thus to intervention in the bourgeoisie’s parliamentary arena. But the conflict with the anarchists, as well as the practical experience of the working class, also raised questions relating to the offensive stage of the struggle, above all the events of the Paris Commune, the first example of working class political power.
During the period of the Second International, above all its phase of degeneration, a new battle was launched: the struggle of the left currents against the growing tendency to rigidly separate the economic dimension, seen as the speciality of the trade unions, and the political dimension, increasingly reduced to the party’s efforts to win seats in bourgeois parliaments and local municipalities.
With the dawn of capitalism’s decadent epoch, the dramatic appearance of the mass strike in 1905 in Russia, and the emergence of the soviets, reaffirmed the essential unity of the economic and political dimensions, and the necessity for independent class organs which combined both aspects. As Luxemburg put it in her pamphlet on the mass strike, which was essentially a polemic against the outmoded conceptions of the social democratic right and centre:
“There are not two different class struggles of the working class, an economic and a political one, but only one class struggle, which aims at one and the same time at the limitation of capitalist exploitation within bourgeois society, and at the abolition of exploitation together with bourgeois society itself”.
However, it is necessary to recall that these two dimensions, while forming part of a unity, are not identical, and their unity is often not grasped by the workers engaged in actual struggles. Thus, even when a strike around economic demands may rapidly be confronted with the active opposition of organs of the bourgeois state (government, police, trade unions, etc) the “objectively” political context of the struggle may well be apparent only to a militant minority of the workers involved.
Furthermore, this emphasises that within the movement towards consciousness of the political implications of the struggle, two different dynamics are at play: on the one hand, what could be called the politicisation of struggles, and on the other hand, the emergence of politicised minorities who may or may not be linked to the immediate upsurge of the open struggle.
And again, in the first case, we are looking at a process which moves through different phases. In decadence, while there can no longer be a proletarian intervention in the bourgeois political sphere, there can still be defensive political demands and debates which do not yet pose the question of political power or of a new society, for example when proletarians discuss how to respond to police violence, as during mass strikes in Poland in 1980 or the anti-CPE movement in 2006. It is only at a very advanced stage in the struggle that the workers can envisage the seizure of political power as a real goal of their movement. Nevertheless, what generally characterises the politicisation of struggles is the outburst of a massive culture of debate, where the workplace, the street corner, the public square, universities and schools are the scene of passionate discussions about how to take the struggle forward, about who are the enemies of the struggle, about its methods of organisation and overall objectives, such as Trotsky and John Reed described in their books on the Russian revolution of 1917, and which were perhaps the main “warning sign” to the bourgeoisie about the dangers posed by the events of May-June 1968 in France.
For marxism, the communist minority is an emanation of the working class, but of the working class seen as a historic force in bourgeois society; it is not a mechanical product of its immediate struggles. Certainly, the experience of bitter class conflict may drive individual workers towards revolutionary conclusions, but communists can also be “made” by reflecting on the general conditions of the proletariat and of capitalism generally, and they may also have their sociological origins in strata outside the proletariat. This is how Marx expresses it in The German Ideology:
“In the development of productive forces there comes a stage when productive forces and means of intercourse are brought into being, which, under the existing relationships only cause mischief, and are no longer productive but destructive forces…and connected with this a class is called forth, which has to bear all the burdens of society without enjoying its advantages, which, ousted from society, is forced into the most decided antagonism to all other classes; a class which forms the majority of all members of society, and from which emanates the consciousness of the necessity of a fundamental revolution, the communist consciousness, which may, of course, arise among the other classes too through the contemplation of the situation of this class.”
Obviously, the convergence of the two dynamics – the politicisation of struggles and the development of the revolutionary minority – is essential for a revolutionary situation to emerge; and we can even say that such a convergence, as noted by the opening section of the resolution with regard to May 68 in France, can be the expression of a shift in the course of history towards major class confrontations. Similarly, the advances in the general struggle of the working class, and the appearance of politicised minorities are both, at root, products of the subterranean maturation of consciousness, which can continue even when the open struggle has vanished from sight. But to mix up the two dynamics can also lead to false conclusions, particularly an overestimation of the immediate potential of the class struggle. As the English expression has it: a single swallow does not a summer make.
The resolution (point 6) also warns us about the very considerable difficulties that stand in the way of the working class becoming aware that it is “revolutionary or nothing”. It talks about the nature of the working class as an exploited class subject to all the pressures of the dominant ideology, so that “class consciousness cannot advance from victory to victory but can only develop unevenly through a series of defeats”; it also notes that the class faces added difficulties in decadence, for example: the non-permanence of mass organisations in which workers can maintain and develop a political culture; the non-existence of a minimum programme, which means that the class struggle has to scale the dizzy heights of the maximum programme; the use of former instruments of the working class organisations against the class struggle which – in the case of Stalinism in particular – has helped to create a gulf between genuine communist organisations and the mass of the working class. Elsewhere, the resolution, echoing our Theses on Decomposition, stresses the new difficulties imposed by the particular conditions of the final phase of capitalist decline.
One of these difficulties is considered at some length in the resolution: the danger posed by inter-classist struggles like the Yellow Vests in France or the popular revolts provoked by the increasing immiseration of the masses in the less “developed” countries. In all these movements, in a situation where the working class has a very low level of class identity and is still far from gathering its forces to the point where it can give a perspective to the anger and discontent building up throughout society, the proletarians participate not as an independent social and political force but as a mass of individuals. In some cases, these movements are not merely inter-classist, mixing up proletarian demands with the aspirations of other social strata (as in the case of the Yellow Vests) but espouse openly bourgeois goals, such the democracy protests in Hong Kong, or the illusion of sustainable development or racial equality inside capitalism, as in the case of the Youth for Climate marches and the Black Lives Matter protests. The resolution is not altogether precise about the distinction to be made here, a reflection of wider problems in the ICC’s analyses of such events: hence the need for a specific section of this report clarifying these issues.
Part 3: The central danger of interclassism
“Because of the current great difficulty of the working class in developing its struggles, its inability for the moment to regain its class identity and to open up a perspective for the whole of society, the social terrain tends to be occupied by inter-classist struggles particularly marked by the petty bourgeoisie…These inter-classist movements are the product of the absence of any perspective which affects society as a whole, including an important part of the ruling class itself… The struggle for the class autonomy of the proletariat is crucial in this situation imposed by the aggravation of the decomposition of capitalism:
– against inter-classist struggles;
– against partial struggles put forward by all kinds of social categories giving a false illusion of a ‘protective community’;
– against the mobilisations on the rotten ground of nationalism, pacifism, ‘ecological’ reform, etc”(Resolution on the balance of class forces, 23rd ICC Congress).
Recurrent difficulties in analysing the nature of social movements which have appeared in recent years
Interclassist struggles and partial struggles are obstacles to the development of the workers’ struggle. We have seen recently how hard the ICC has found it to master these two questions:
- With regard to the Yellow Vests, the movement was seen at the beginning as having positive elements for the class struggle (through the issue of the rejection of the unions)
- In the youth movement around the climate question, which is a partial struggle, the mobilisation of the young people was seen as something positive, forgetting point 12 of the platform
- On the murder of George Floyd, there were tendencies to see it as an interclassist movement when the indignation it provoked led to a mobilisation on a directly bourgeois terrain, calling for a more democratic police and judiciary
The balance sheet of the movements in the Middle East: a question to be clarified
The presentation on the class struggle to the 23rd Congress recalled that the analysis of the movements of the Arab Spring had not been included in the critical balance sheet we have been undertaking since the 21st Congress despite the existence of unresolved differences, in particular “questions of opportunist slidings we have made in the past towards for example the inter-classist movements of the Arab Spring and others”
Going back to our analysis of the movements of 2011
If the organisation, in its intervention, didn’t use the term “interclassism” to qualify these movements, it described them in a way which developed all the characteristics of an interclassist movement, showing that it was not totally in the dark about their nature: “The working class has not yet presented itself in these events as an autonomous force capable of assuming the leadership of the movements, which have often taken the form of revolts by the whole non-exploiting population, from ruined peasants to middle strata on the road to proletarianisation”.
The position developed at the time – “The working class has, in general, not been in the leadership of these rebellions but it has certainly had a significant presence and influence which can be discerned both in the methods and forms of organisation thrown up by the movement and, in certain cases, by the specific development of workers’ struggles, such as the strikes in Algeria and above all the major wave of strikes in Egypt” – did not succeed in precisely situating the class terrain on which they were developing or in drawing out the dynamic of the working class component which could be found in these movements;
- Our analysis was based on an approach marked by empiricism: the comparison with Iran in 1979, certainly inspiring, was used without placing them in the new situation, without recontextualising them with the aid of our framework: “In trying to understand the class nature of these rebellions, we therefore have to avoid two symmetrical errors: on the one hand, a blanket identification of all the masses in movement with the proletariat (a position most characteristic of the Groupe Communiste Internationaliste), and on the other hand a rejection of anything positive in revolts which are not explicitly working class” . The second part of the quote makes concessions to an approach that looks at “positive points” and “negative points” without basing it on their class nature
- An overestimation of these movements: “All these experiences are important stepping stones towards the development of a genuinely revolutionary consciousness. But the road in that direction is still a long one, and is obstructed by many and obvious illusions and ideological weaknesses” ; “All of these revolts constitute a formidable bank of experience on the road that leads to revolutionary consciousness”. 
Weaknesses in the application of our political framework
Forgetting the framework of the critique of the weak link
Although the organisation was right to point out that the Indignados movement and the uprisings of the exploited classes and particularly of the working class in the Middle East had a common origin in the effects of the world economic crisis, it did so by putting all the movements, whether they came from the central countries or the peripheral countries, on the same level, or by amalgamating them. That’s to say without placing them in the framework of the critique of the theory of the weak link (see the resolution on the international situation from the 20th congress).
The ICC defined the Indignados movement as a movement of the working class marked:
- by a loss of class identity: “This partly explains why the participation of the proletariat as a class has not been dominant even though it was present through the participation of individual workers (employed, unemployed, students, retired…) who attempted to clarify, to get involved according to their instincts, but who lacked the strength, cohesion and clarity there would be if the class participated collectively as a class”.
- by a “strong presence of non-proletarian social strata, especially a middle layer that is in the throes of proletarianisation”. “If the movement appears vague and poorly defined, this cannot put into question its class character, especially if we view things in their dynamic, in the perspective of the future…The presence of the proletariat is visible neither as a force leading the movement, nor through a mobilisation in the workplace. It lies in the dynamic of searching, clarification, preparation of the social terrain, of recognition of the battle that is being prepared. That is where its importance is found, despite the fact that this is only an extremely fragile small step forward.
Our texts from this period do not make a distinction between the Indignados movement in Spain and the revolts in the Arab countries. However, there are very important differences: in Spain, even if the proletarian wing didn’t dominate the Indignados movement, it did fight for its own autonomy faced with the efforts of “Democracy Now” to destroy it. In the Arab countries, the proletariat, at best, was not able to maintain itself on its own terrain, or to use its own methods of combat to develop its consciousness, allowing itself to be mobilised behind nationalist and democratic factions.
Absence of the framework of decomposition
Without ever denying its existence or the weight of the profound difficulties in these movements, by stressing the “positive aspects” of the social revolts, the analysis of these movements in the Arab countries was not placed in the context of decomposition. This led to lessening the firm denunciation of the democratic and nationalist poison which was so powerful in these countries, and the danger that this represented above all in these parts of the world, but also and above all faced with the propaganda of the western bourgeoisies towards the European proletariat, underlining the necessity for democracy in the Arab countries.
More general weaknesses of the organisation determining its analyses and statements of position
Impatience to see everywhere and rapidly an exit from the retreat after 1989 following the revival of struggles in 2003 was a heavy burden: “The present international wave of revolts against capitalist austerity is opening the door to another solution altogether: the solidarity of all the exploited across religious or national divisions; class struggle in all countries with the ultimate goal of a world-wide revolution which will be the negation of national borders and states. A year or two ago such a perspective would have seemed completely utopian to most. Today, increasing numbers are seeing global revolution as a realistic alternative to the collapsing order of global capital.” 
The position of the ICC was marked not only by a general overestimation of the situation, but within that an overestimation of the significance of the movements in the Arab countries for the development of a proletarian perspective. Similarly, the tendency to neglect the importance of debate in the proletarian political milieu also had a negative influence: whereas the contribution of the Nucleo Comunista Internacional to the analysis of the Piqueteros movement in Argentina in 2002-4 had been very important, later on, in 2011, the ICC was not able to take into account the criticisms made of it by the Internationalist Voice group.
Did we make opportunist errors in the analysis of the Arab movements?
We can conclude from the preceding elements that although ICC analysed the movements in the Arab countries in 2011, with their massive character, their simultaneity with other movements in the western countries, the forms taken by these movements (assemblies etc), the presence of the working class (different from the chaotic nature of a number of the interclassist riots or mobilisations dominated by leftist groups like the Piqueteros for example), we did not take a step back and come to a lucid view of what they really represented, in a context where the most experienced parts of the world proletariat was not able to provide a perspective and a direction. This approach was caught up in immediatism.
In the overall context that favoured the impatience and precipitation which existed in the organisation, imagining that the world proletariat was already overcoming the post-89 retreat on a massive scale, this immediatism was certainly the antechamber to opportunism, the point of departure for a slide towards opportunism and the abandoning of class positions, as can be attested by the different ways this immediatism manifested itself:
- The rather contradictory nature of our statements of position on the revolts in the Middle East;
- The absence of coherence and articulation based on the cardinal positions of the organisation underlying our political analyses, or even forgetting or abandoning them (for example, replacing the concept of interclassist struggles by the term “social revolts”, and without really explaining what we meant by “social revolts”.
- The rather empirical and superficial approach which tended to stay at the surface of things and which tended to substitute itself for our political framework;
- The major role played by our view of indignation as a unilaterally positive factor for the development of proletarian consciousness (or even as an indication of a movement’s positive nature, applied to all kinds of movements);
- The tendency to see positive elements where the situation was dominated by the greatest dangers for the class, leading to a weakening of the denunciation of bourgeois ideology by the organisation.
While all these elements combined bring together the conditions for openly opportunist positions – if there is no barrier to these deleterious tendencies posed by proletarian clarity and the defence of class positions by the ICC – it should be underlined that the ICC didn’t take up positions that directly contradicted its platform and class positions. We have to situate these difficulties at the level of what they really represented (which doesn’t mean relativising their importance and dangers). The analysis and intervention of the ICC was weakened by immediatism (with all that this implies at the level of ambiguity, superficiality, lack of rigour, forgetting the defence of our framework and political positions, and a dynamic opening the door to opportunism), but we can’t conclude that it took up directly opportunist positions (which was the case regarding the youth movement around ecology).
Relationship between partial struggles and interclassism
The deviation on the youth movement against ecological destruction showed a forgetting of point 12 of our platform: “The ecological question, like all social questions (whether education, family and sexual relations or whatever) are destined to play an enormous role in any future coming to consciousness and any communist struggle. The proletariat, and it alone, has the capacity to integrate these questions into its own revolutionary consciousness. In so doing it will broaden and deepen this consciousness. It will thus be able to lead all ‘partial struggles’ and give them a perspective. The proletarian revolution will have to confront all of these problems very concretely in the struggle for communism. But they cannot be the point of departure of the development of a revolutionary class perspective. In the absence of the proletariat, they are at worst the point of departure for new rounds of barbarism. The leaflet and the article of the ICC in Belgium are glaring examples of opportunism. This time, it is not opportunism on organisational matters, but opportunism in relation to the class positions as expounded in our platform” (comrade S, contribution to an internal bulletin in 2019)
We can say that the report on the class struggle to the 23rd Congress was not without ambiguities at this level. It took an ambiguous position on the nature of these movements and left the door open to the idea that they could play a positive role in the development of consciousness.
We have found it hard to see what distinguishes these two types of movement, with a tendency to amalgamate them, to put them at the same level. So what is it that distinguishes interclassist struggles and partial struggles? In interclassist movements, workers’ demands are diluted and mixed up with petty bourgeois demands (cf the Yellow Vests). This is not the case with partial or “single issue” struggles which manifest themselves essentially at the level of the superstructures, their demands focusing on themes which leave out the foundations of capitalist society, even if they can point to capitalism as being responsible, as with the climate question, or with the oppression of women which is blamed on the capitalist patriarchy. They are also factors of division within the working class, divisions with workers employed in the energy sector in the first case, or by reinforcing divisions between the sexes. Workers may be drawn into partial struggles but this doesn’t make them interclassist. It’s a question of clarifying the difference between partial struggles and interclassist struggles, and what they may have in common.
In the 2010s, the ICC recognised indignation as an important component of the class struggle of the proletariat and a factor in its coming to consciousness, However, the ICC has had a tendency to define its importance “in itself”, in a somewhat metaphysical way. One of the roots of our difficulties lies in the inappropriate and unilateral use of the concept of indignation as something necessarily positive, an indication of reflection and even of the development of class consciousness, without taking into account the class nature of its origin, or the class terrain on which it is being expressed. With the further plunge into decomposition there will be many movements driven by indignation, disgust, anger among large layers of society against the phenomena of this period.
The report on the class struggle to the 23rd ICC Congress develops on the spread of social indignation against the destructive nature of capitalist society (eg in reaction against the murder of black people, the climate question or the harassment of women). But by affirming that that the anger expressed by these movements can be recuperated by the proletariat when the latter has regained its class identity and is struggling on its terrain, an ambiguity is introduced about whether the proletariat can “take over” the leadership of such movements in their present form. In reality, such movements would have to “dissolve” before the elements participating in them could join the proletarian struggle. This is in contradiction to what is said in point 12 of the platform: “The struggle against the economic foundations of the system contains within it the struggle against all the super-structural aspects of capitalist society, but this is not true the other way around”. Furthermore, such partial struggles tend to hinder the combat of the working class, its autonomy, and this is why the bourgeoisie knows very well how to recuperate them to preserve the capitalist order. In this sense indignation in itself is not a factor in the development of class consciousness: everything depends on the terrain on which it is expressed. This emotional reaction which may come from different classes does not automatically lead to a reflection that can contribute to the development of class consciousness.
The organisation needs to clarify what would be the conditions, on the historical scale, for an autonomous proletarian movement to give an entirely new focus and direction to all the different grievances and oppressions imposed by capitalist society, and which today, in the absence of proletarian leadership, find their only outlet on the terrain of interclassist or bourgeois mobilisations.
The impact of the capitalist crisis on the whole of society poses another question to be clarified: what is the relationship of the struggle of the proletariat to other classes, intermediate or non-exploiting layers, still existing in capitalism and capable of developing their own mobilisations against the policy of the state (such as peasant movements).
Part 4. What has changed since the 23rd Congress?
Almost a decade has passed since the Indignados movement. Important though it was, it by no means marked a reversal of the retreat that began in 1989. We also know that the bourgeoisie – above all in France where the danger of contagion was most evident – took counter-measures to prevent a similar, or more advanced, movement erupting in the traditional “home” of revolutions.
In many ways, the retreat of the class deepened after the subsidence of the movements around 2011. The illusions that predominated in the Arab Spring, given the inability of the working class to provide leadership to the various revolts, have been drowned in barbarism, war, terrorism, and ferocious repression. In Europe and the US, the populist tide, in part fed by the barbaric developments in Africa and the Middle East which precipitated the refugee crisis and the blow-back of Islamic terrorism, has undoubtedly had an impact on a part of the working class. In the “Third World”, mounting economic misery tended to provoke popular revolts in which the working class was again unable to manifest itself on its own terrain; even more significantly, the tendency of social discontent to take on an interclassist nature was clearly expressed in a central country like France, with the Yellow Vest demonstrations that persisted for a whole year. From 2016, with the accession to power of Trump and the vote for Brexit in the UK, the rise of populism reached spectacular levels, dragging a part of the working class into its campaigns against the “elites”. And in 2020, this whole process of decomposition accelerated even more dramatically with the pandemic. The climate of fear generated by the pandemic, and the resulting lock-down, have further increased the atomisation of the working class and created profound difficulties for a class response to the devastating economic consequences of the Covid-19 crisis.
And yet, not long before the pandemic hit, we were seeing a new development of class movements: the teachers’ and GM autoworkers strikes in the US; the widespread strikes in Iran in 2018, which posed the question of self-organisation even if, contrary to the exaggerations of parts of the milieu, they were still a long way from the formation of soviets. In particular, the latter strikes raised the question of class solidarity in the face of state repression.
Above all, we saw the struggles in France at the end of 2019, where key battalions of the working class were in the streets around class demands, pushing aside the Yellow Vest movement which was reduced to a symbolic presence at the back of the marches
There were parallels in other countries, for example Finland. But then the pandemic struck the heart of Europe, to a large extent paralysing the possibility that the struggles in France could take on an international dimension, despite the fact that in the first phase of the lock-down there were many strikes by workers in defence of their working conditions faced with the totally inadequate health measures taken by the state and the employers. These movements were unable to develop further given the restrictive conditions of the lock-down, although the central role of the working class in keeping life in this society going was highlighted by those sectors who had no choice but to carry on working during the lock-down: health, transport, food supply, etc. The ruling class made strong efforts to present these workers as heroes serving the nation, but the hypocrisy of governments – and thus the class basis of the “sacrifices” of these workers – was evident to many. In Britain, for example, there were angry protests by health workers when it became clear that their “heroism” wasn’t worth a wage rise.
On top of the pandemic, the working class was quickly faced by further obstacles to the development of class consciousness, above all in the US where the Black Lives Matter protests focused attention on the “single issue” of race, followed swiftly by the huge election campaign which gave a new boost to democratic illusions. Both these campaigns had a major international impact. In the US in particular, the danger of the working class being pulled, via identity politics of right and left, into violent confrontations behind competing bourgeois factions remains very real: the dramatic assault on the Capitol by Trump supporters demonstrates that even if Trump has been removed from government, Trumpism remains as a powerful force on the level of the streets. Finally, workers are now facing a second wave of the pandemic and a new series of lock downs, which not only renew the state-enforced atomisation of the class but have also led to explosions of frustration against the lock-downs which have drawn some parts of the class into reactionary protests fuelled by conspiracy theories and the ideology of the “sovereign individual”.
For the moment, the combination of all these issues, but above all the conditions imposed by the pandemic, have acted as an important brake on the fragile revival of the class struggle between 2018 and 2020. It is difficult to predict how long this situation will persist and therefore we cannot provide any concrete perspectives for the development of the struggle over the coming period. What we can say, however, is that the working class will be faced by brutal attacks on its living conditions. This has already begun in a number of sectors where employers have drastically reduced their workforces. The governments of the central countries of capitalism are still showing a certain caution in dealing with the class, subsidising firms to enable them to hold on to employees, “furloughing” locked-down workers who can’t work from home in order to prevent an immediate plunge into impoverishment, taking measures to avoid evictions of tenants unable to pay their rents, and so on. This is costing governments vast sums, greatly increasing an already swollen burden of debt. We know that, sooner or later, the workers will be asked to pay for this.
Part 5. Debates about the balance of class forces
The dramatic developments in the world situation since the last ICC congress has inevitably given rise to debates both within the organisation and among our milieu of contacts and sympathisers. These debates have focused on the significance of the pandemic and the acceleration of decomposition, but they have also posed new questions about the balance of class forces. At the RI Congress in the summer of 2020, criticisms were made of the report on the class struggle, notably its assessment of the movement against pension reforms in France in early 2019. In a text in our internal bulletin in 2021, Comrade M in particular argued – we think correctly – that the report claimed that the movement had attained a certain level of politicisation, without providing sufficient evidence for such an advance; at the same time, there was a lack of clarity in the report regarding the distinction between the politicisation of struggles, and the politicisation of minorities – a distinction which the present report has aimed to elucidate. In this text, comrade M warns against an overestimation of the present level of the class struggle (a mistake we have often made in the past -cf the report to the 21st Congress):
“The tendency to politicise the struggles was by no means revealed in the movement against pension reform in France. There was no space for proletarian debate, no general assembly. The politicisation of the working class on its own class terrain will be inseparable from its emergence from the profound retreat it has undergone since 1989. The proletariat in France, as in all countries, has not yet found the way back to its revolutionary perspective, a path blocked by the collapse of the Eastern bloc. With the aggravation of the crisis and the attacks on its living conditions, it is obvious that the working class is today becoming more and more aware that capitalism has no future to offer it. It is looking for a perspective, but it does not yet know that it is in its hands and in its struggles that this perspective is hidden and buried. This awareness of the monstrous reality of today’s world does not mean a politicisation on its own class terrain, i.e. outside the framework of bourgeois democracy. Despite its enormous potential for combativity (which has not been exhausted by the irruption of the pandemic), the proletariat in France does not yet pose the question of proletarian revolution. Even if the word ‘revolution’ has come back on some banners, what content is there? I don’t think it’s a question of ‘proletarian’ revolution. The working class in France has not yet recovered its class identity (which was still very embryonic in the movement against pension reform). There is still within it a rejection or at least a very deep mistrust of the word ‘communism’”.
Furthermore, M argues that this overestimation of the tendency towards politicisation can open the door to a councilist vision: “The politicisation of struggles can only be verified when the revolutionary vanguard begins to have a certain influence in workers’ struggles (especially in the general assemblies). This is not the case today. The RI Congress Report therefore opens the door to a councilist vision by affirming that there already exist ‘the indications of a politicisation of the struggle’”.
The danger of a councilist vision is also raised in the divergencies expressed by comrade S during and after the 23rd Congress, though not from the same point of departure. These divergencies have since deepened and given rise to a public debate which has in turn had a certain impact on some of our contacts. Insofar as they relate to the problem of the balance of class forces, these divergencies touch on three key questions:
- The potential and limits of the economic struggles
- The question of subterranean maturation
- The question of “political defeats”. Here, the publication of the first round of the debate on the divergencies has led some of our contacts to pose questions about what happened in the 1980s.
Economic struggles and subterranean maturation
In his reply to our reply, in an internal bulletin in 2021, comrade S affirms where he agrees with the ICC on the necessity for the economic struggle: because workers have to defend their physical existence against capitalist exploitation; because workers need to fight to “have a life” beyond the working day so that they can have access to culture, to political debates, and so on; and because, as Marx put it, a class which cannot fight for its interests at this level certainly cannot put itself forward as a force capable of transforming society. But at the same time, he argues, in the conditions of decomposition, not least as a result of the undermining of a perspective for social revolution by the impact of the collapse of the eastern bloc, the historic links between the economic and the political dimensions of the struggle have been broken to the point where this unity cannot be restored by a development of the economic struggles alone. And here he quotes Rosa Luxemburg in Reform or Revolution to warn the ICC against any relapse into a councilist vision in which the “workers themselves”, without the indispensable role of the revolutionary organisation, can recover their revolutionary perspective: “Socialism is not at all a tendency inherent to the daily struggles of the working class. It is inherent only to the sharpening objective contradictions of the capitalist economy on the one side, to the subjective understanding of the indispensability of overcoming it through a socialist transformation on the other”.
From this, comrade S concludes that the main danger facing the ICC is a councilist deviation in which the organisation leaves it to the revival of economic struggles to “spontaneously” politicise themselves, and thus ignores what should be its primary task: carrying out the necessary theoretical deepening which would enable the class to regain confidence in marxism and the possibility of a communist society.
We have seen that the danger of councilism cannot be dismissed when it comes to understanding the process of politicisation: we have learned to our cost that the danger of becoming over-enthusiastic about the possibilities and depth of the immediate struggles is ever-present. We also agree with Luxemburg – and with Lenin – that socialist consciousness is not the mechanical product of the day-to-day struggle but is a product of the historic movement of the class, which certainly includes the theoretical elaboration and intervention of the revolutionary organisation. But what is missing from comrade S’s argument is any explanation of the actual process through which revolutionary theory can once again “grip the masses”. In our view, this is linked to a disagreement on the question of subterranean maturation.
In his text, he says: “the Reply asks if I consider the situation today to be worse than it was in the 1930s (when groups like Bilan contributed to a political and theoretical ‘subterranean maturation’ of consciousness despite the defeat of the class), whereas I deny the existence of such a maturation at present. Yes, at the level of subterranean maturation the situation is indeed worse than in the 1930s, since today the tendency among revolutionaries is more towards political and theoretical regression”.
In order to respond to this, it is necessary to go back to our original debate on the question of subterranean maturation – to the struggle against the councilist view that class consciousness only develops in phases of open struggle.
Thus, MC’s argument in his text on “On subterranean maturation”, in October 1983, was that the rejection of subterranean maturation profoundly underestimated the role of the revolutionary organisation in the elaboration of class consciousness: ”The class struggle of the proletariat goes through ups and downs, but this isn’t the case with class consciousness: the idea of the regression of consciousness with the retreat of the class struggle is contradicted by the whole history of the workers’ movement, a history in which the elaboration and deepening of theory continues in a period of retreat. It’s true that the field, the extent of its action narrows, but not its elaboration in depth”.
Comrade S does not of course deny the role of the revolutionary organisation in the development of theory. So when he speaks about “subterranean regression” he means that the communist political vanguard (and thus the ICC) is failing to carry out the theoretical work needed to restore the confidence of the working class in its revolutionary perspective – that it is regressing theoretically and politically.
But we should recall that MC’s text does not restrict subterranean maturation to the work of the revolutionary organisation:
“The work of reflection goes on in the heads of the workers and will manifest itself in the upsurge of new struggles. There exists a collective memory of the class, and this memory also contributes to the development of the coming to consciousness and its extension in the class”. Or again: “This process of developing consciousness is not uniquely reserved to communists for the simple reason that the communist organisation is not the only seat of consciousness. This process is also the product of other elements of the class who remain firmly on a class terrain or tend in that direction”.
This is important because comrade S seems precisely to restrict subterranean maturation to the revolutionary organisation alone. If we understand him correctly, since the ICC is tending towards theoretical and political regression, this is evidence for the “subterranean regression” he speaks about. Of course, we don’t agree with this assessment of the current situation of the ICC, but that is another discussion. The point to focus on here is that that the communist organisation and the proletarian political milieu are merely the tip of the iceberg in a deeper process going on in the class:
In a polemic with the CWO in International Review 43 on the problem of subterranean maturation, we defined this process as follows:
“- at the least conscious level, and also in the broadest layers of the class, it (subterranean maturation) takes the form of a growing contradiction between the historic being, the real needs of the class, and the workers’ superficial adherence to bourgeois ideas. This clash may for a long time remain largely unadmitted, buried or repressed, or it may begin to surface in the negative form of disillusionment with, and disengagement from, the principal themes of bourgeois ideology;
– in a more restricted sector of the class, among workers who fundamentally remain on a proletarian terrain, it takes the form of a reflection on past struggles, more or less formal discussions on the struggles to come, the emergence of combative nuclei in the factories and among the unemployed. In recent times, the most dramatic demonstration of this aspect of the phenomenon of subterranean maturation was provided by the mass strikes in Poland 1980, in which the methods of struggle used by the workers showed that there had been a real assimilation of many of the lessons of the struggles of 1956, 1970 and 1976….
– in a fraction of the class that is even more limited in size, but destined to grow as the struggle advances, it takes the form of an explicit defence of the communist programme, and thus of regroupment into the organized marxist vanguard. The emergence of communist organizations, far from being a refutation of the notion of subterranean maturation, is both a product of and an active factor within it”
What’s missing from this model is another layer – elements, often not direct products of class movements, who are searching for communist positions, thus the swamp (or part of it – the part that is a product of a political advance, even if confused, rather than those degenerating elements who express a regression from a higher level of clarity), and those more explicitly moving towards the revolutionary organisations.
The emergence of such a layer is not the only indication of subterranean maturation, but it is certainly the most obvious. Comrade S has argued that the appearance of this layer can be explained merely by referring to the revolutionary nature of the working class, but since we understand the class not as a static, but as a dynamic force, it is more accurate to see this layer as a product of a movement towards the development of consciousness within the class. And it is certainly necessary to study the movement within the movement: to understand whether there is a process of maturation taking place in this layer– in other words, does the milieu of searching elements itself show signs of development? And if we compare the two “surges” of the politicised minorities that have appeared since around 2003, there are indeed indications that such a development has taken place.
The first surge took place in the mid-2000s and coincided with the what we termed a new generation of the working class, manifesting itself in the anti-CPE movement and the Indignados. A small part of this milieu gravitated towards the communist left and even joined the ICC, giving rise to hopes that we were encountering a new generation of revolutionaries (cf the Orientation Text on the Culture of Debate). What we were actually experiencing was a movement (the French term “mouvance” would be more accurate) largely within the swamp and one which proved to be highly permeable to the influence of anarchism, modernism, and parasitism. One of the distinguishing features of this mouvance was, alongside a distrust of political organisation, a profound resistance to the concept of decadence and thus to the groups of the communist left, seen as sectarian and apocalyptic, above all the ICC. Some of the elements in this surge had been involved in the ultra-activism of the anti-capitalist movement in the 90s, and although they had made a first step in seeing the central role of the working class in the overthrow of capitalism, they retained their activist leanings, pushing some of them (e.g. the majority of the collective that organises libcom) towards a revived anarcho-syndicalism, towards ideas of “organising” at the workplace, which thrived on the possibility of winning small victories and turned away from any notion that the objective and historic unfolding of the crisis would itself be a factor in the development of the class struggle.
The second surge of searching elements, which we have become aware of in the last few years, although perhaps smaller in scale than the previous surge, is certainly situated on a more profound level: it tends to regard decadence and even decomposition as self-evident; it often by-passes anarchism, which they see as lacking the theoretical tools for understanding the present period, and have less fear of directly contacting the groups of the communist left. Often very young and lacking any direct experience of the class struggle, their primary concern is to deepen, to make sense of the chaotic world that confronts them by assimilating the marxist method. Here, in our view, is a clear concretisation of communist consciousness resulting, in Luxemburg’s words, from “the sharpening objective contradictions of the capitalist economy on the one side, (and) the subjective understanding of the indispensability of overcoming it through a socialist transformation on the other”.
In relation to this emerging layer of politicised elements, the ICC has a dual responsibility as a “fraction-like” organisation. On the one hand, of course, the vital theoretical elaboration required to provide a clear analysis of an ever-shifting world situation and to enrich the communist perspective. But it also involves a patient work of constructing the organisation: the work of “formation of cadres” as the GCF put it after World War Two, the development of new militants who will last the course; of defending the organisation against the incursions of bourgeois ideology, the slanders of parasitism and so on. This work of organisational construction does not appear at all in S’s reply, and yet it is certainly one of the principal elements in the real struggle against councilism.
Furthermore: if this process of subterranean maturation is a real one, if it is the tip of the iceberg of developments taking place within far wider layers of the class, the ICC is correct in envisaging the possibility of a future re-connection between the defensive struggles and the growing recognition that capitalism has no future to offer humanity. In other words, it announces the intact potential for the politicisation of the struggles and their convergence with the emergence of new revolutionary minorities and the increasing impact of the communist organisation.
On “political defeats”
The publication of a first round of debate on the balance of class forces has brought out various divergencies among our milieu of close sympathisers. On the ICC forum, particularly in the thread Internal debate in the ICC on the international situation| International Communist Current (internationalism.org), in an exchange of contributions with MH, Debate on the balance of class forces | International Communist Current (internationalism.org), in our contact meetings, and on his own blog, comrade MH in particular has become increasingly critical of our view that it was essentially the collapse of the eastern bloc in 89 which precipitated the long retreat of the class from which we have yet to emerge. For MH, it was largely a political/economic offensive of the ruling class after 1980, spearheaded by the British bourgeoisie in particular which brought the third wave of struggles to an end (rather: strangled it at birth). In this view, it was the defeat of the miners’ strike in 1985 in the UK which marked the defeat of the struggles in the 1980s. This conclusion is currently leading MH to reassess our view of the struggles after 1968 and even to question the notion of decomposition, although his differences sometimes seem to imply that “decomposition has won out”, and that we need to face the reality of a grave historical defeat for the working class. Comrade Baboon largely agrees with MH about the key importance of the defeat of the miners’ strike but has not followed him to the point of questioning decomposition or concluding that the retreat of the working class has perhaps taken a qualitative step into a kind of historical defeat.
Comrade S, however, now seems to be increasingly explicit about this being the case. As he put it in a recent letter to the international central organ:
“Is there or is there not a fundamental divergence on the balance of class forces?
The position of the organisation is that the working class is undefeated. The opposite position also exists within our ranks, that the working class, in the past five years, has suffered from a political defeat, the main symptom of which is the explosion of identitarianism of all kinds, which results first and foremost from the failure of the class to recover its own class identity. The position of the organisation is that the situation of the class is better than it was in the 1990s under the shock of the ‘death of communism’, whereas the other position says that the situation of the class today is worse than in the 1990s, that the world proletariat today is on the brink of suffering a political defeat on a scale such as which it may need a generation to recover from”.
As we pointed out at the beginning of this report, the ICC’s recognition that the concept of the historic course no longer applies in the phase of decomposition means that it becomes much harder to assess the overall dynamic of events, and in particular to reach the conclusion that the door to a revolutionary future has been definitively closed, since decomposition can overwhelm the proletariat in a gradual process, without the bourgeoisie having to defeat it directly, in a face to face combat, as it did in the period of the revolutionary wave. It is therefore difficult to know what comrade S means by a “political defeat on a scale such as which it may need a generation to recover from”. If the proletariat has yet to take on the class enemy in an openly political struggle, as it did in 1917-23, what criteria are we using to judge that the retreat of the class struggle over the past three decades has reached such a point; and furthermore, since such a defeat would presumably be followed by a major acceleration of barbarism, and – in comrade S’s view – by a world war, or at least a “limited” nuclear holocaust – what possibilities for “recovery” would be left for the next generation?
On a final point: comrade S claims that we see the situation of the class being “better” than in the wake of the collapse of the blocs. This is inaccurate. We have certainly said that the conditions for future class confrontations are thus inevitably maturing, and, as the report on the class struggle to the RI Congress pointed out, this is in a context very different from the situation at the beginning of the phase of decomposition:
- whereas 1989 could be presented as the defeat of communism and the victory of capitalism, the pandemic cannot be presented as a vindication of the superiority of the present system. On the contrary, despite all the mystifications surrounding the origins and nature of the pandemic, it provides further evidence that the capitalist system has become a danger to humanity, even if for the moment only a small minority have grasped this clearly;
- whereas the events of 1989 constituted a major blow to class combativity and consciousness, and although the development of decomposition has tended to aggravate the loss of class identity, the pandemic has broken out in the context of a certain revival of the class struggle, while the bourgeoisie’s willingness to sacrifice health and life in the interest of profit, as well as its chaotic handling of the pandemic, tends to provoke an awareness that we are not “all in it together” – that the working class and the poor are the prime victims of the pandemic and the criminal negligence of the ruling class.
But all these “plus points” come on top of 30 years of decomposition – a period in which time is no longer on the side of the proletariat, which continues to suffer the accumulating wounds inflicted by a society that is rotting on its feet. In some ways, we would agree that the situation is “worse” than it was in the 1980s. But we will fail in our task as a revolutionary minority if we ignore any of the signposts that point towards a revival of the class struggle – of a proletarian movement that contains the possibility of preventing society from taking a definitive plunge into the abyss.
International Review 164
In his first article laying out his disagreements with the 23rd Congress resolutions on the international situation, comrade S. argues that the resolution on the balance of class forces showed that the ICC was abandoning its view that the proletariat’s inability to develop its revolutionary perspective during the period 1968-89 was a primary cause of the phase of decomposition. In our reply, we already pointed out what we are saying again in this report: that the resolution on the balance of class forces places the question of politicisation – in other words, the development of a proletarian alternative for the future of society – at the very heart of its understanding of the current stalemate between the two major classes. It’s true that the resolution could have been more explicit about the fact that the stalemate was the product not only of the bourgeoisie’s inability to mobilise society for world war, but also of the inability of the working class – particularly of its central battalions in the wake of the Polish mass strike – to understand and take up the political goals of its struggle. We think this point – which is simply the basic element in our analysis of decomposition – has been clarified in our published response to the comrade. Internal Debate in the ICC on the international situation | International Communist Current (internationalism.org)
Poverty of Philosophy, 1847
The Mass Strike, the Party and the Trade Unions, 1906
 Comrade J’s contribution in our internal bulletin in 2011
“Social revolts in North Africa and the Middle East, nuclear catastrophe in Japan, war in Libya: Only the proletarian revolution can save humanity from the disaster of capitalism”, IR 145. The resolution of the 21st Congress has one still ambiguous line on the movements in the Middle East as being “marked by interclassism”
“What’s happening in the Middle East?”, IR 145
“Social revolts in North Africa and the Middle East, nuclear catastrophe in Japan, war in Libya: Only the proletarian revolution can save humanity from the disaster of capitalism”, IR 145
“The metaphor of the five streams:
1.Social movements of young people in precarious work, unemployed or still studying, which began with the struggle against the CPE in 2006, continued with the youth revolt in Greece in 2008 and culminated with the movement of the Indignados and Occupy in 2011;
2. Movements which were massive but which were well contained by the bourgeoisie preparing the ground in advance, as in France 2007, France and Britain in 2010, Greece in 2010-12, etc;
3. Movements which suffered from a weight of inter-classism, like Tunisia and Egypt in 2011;
4. Germs of massive strikes as in Egypt in 2007, Vigo (Spain) in 2006, China in 2009;
5. The development of struggles in the factories or in localised industrial sectors but which contained promising signs, such as Lindsey in 2009, Tekel in 2010, electricians in the UK in 2011.
These five streams belong to the working class despite their differences; each one in its own way expresses an effort by the proletariat to find itself again, despite the difficulties and obstacles which the bourgeoisie puts in its way. Each one contained a dynamic of research, of clarification, of preparing the social soil. At different levels they are part of the search ‘for the word that will lead us to socialism’ (as Rosa Luxemburg put it, referring to the workers’ councils) via the general assemblies”. (Resolution on the international situation, 20th ICC Congress, IR 152)
“The Indignados in Spain, Greece and Israel: From indignation to the preparation of class struggles”, IR 147
As the title of the article from IR 147 indicates, the movements in Greece and Israel in 2011 (but also the protests in Turkey and Brazil in 2013) were analysed in a very similar way to the Indignados in Spain. A critical review of all our articles from this period is therefore required.
A question to be re-examined is also the existence of ambiguities and confusions about the positive impact of hunger riots for the development of class consciousness (cf IR 134 “Food crisis, hunger riots: Only the class struggle of the proletariat can put an end to famines”)
The chapter on “Struggles against the war economy in the Middle East” from the report to the 23rd Congress has not been discussed in depth. The report talks about the existence of proletarian movements in several countries, and it is necessary to re-evaluate these movements on a more solid and in-depth basis, seeking to situate the analysis of these movements in the framework of the critique of the weak link, as well as the context of decomposition (which the report doesn’t seem to do explicitly, adopting the approach applied to the movements of 2011) in order to look at the nature of these movements and their strengths and weaknesses.
“Israel protests: “Mubarak, Assad, Netanyahu!”, ICC online, cited in the article from IR 147
“The fact that these are not specifically proletarian movements certainly makes them vulnerable to mystifications around identity politics and reformism, and to direct manipulation by left and democratic bourgeois factions”.
As was pointed out in the discussion at the meeting of the ICC’s international central organ in February, the ICC cannot be accused of neglecting the effort to deepen our understanding of the communist programme. The existence of a thirty-year series on communism does provide some evidence that we are not starting from scratch here….
We won’t go further into these discussions here, except to say that they seem to be based on an underestimation both of the significant struggles that took place after 1985, where the questioning of the unions in countries like France and Italy compelled the ruling class to radicalise its trade union apparatus, and above all an underestimation of the impact of the collapse of the eastern bloc on class combativity and consciousness.