Published the 7 May 2009 in Echoes of the Communist Left
Looking at the world today, we see an urgent need for revolution, contrasting with a profound weakness and division of pro-revolutionaries. Some of their disagreements are serious. And yet, pro-revolutionaries also have something essential in common, internationalist, revolutionary, positions that separate them from those, whose pseudo-revolutionary discourse, in the end, is nothing more than an excuse for the perpetuation of the value-form. We use the term “pro-revolutionary” deliberately, because only history will be able to judge whether what we do, discussing, writing, publishing, intervening etc…has a revolutionary impact or not. We certainly want that. But do we act accordingly?
1. The present-day crisis is not just a conjunctural downturn, not just a result of unbridled greed. It is not a crisis of neo-liberalism but a crisis of capitalism. It demonstrates capitalism’s historical obsolescence, the urgent need to kill it at its core and replace it with a world in which the satisfaction of human needs, not profit, is the driving force, a world no longer ruled by the law of value, no longer divided by nations, races and religions, in which the collective self-emancipation of the exploited will, for the first time, make individual freedom real.
2. The consequences of this crisis are and will be increasingly devastating. In its desperate attempts to cut costs to restore its profit-rate, the capitalist class inflicts mass unemployment, wage and benefit cuts on the working class, hunger, disease and homelessness on all the dispossessed. For the same reason, it continues its onslaught on the natural environment. Furthermore, the crisis widens the door to war. When the normal economic ways to obtain profit are blocked, the use of violence becomes increasingly attractive, while the need of the accumulation process for devalorization invites ever-greater destruction.
3. The only force capable of preventing capitalism from dragging humanity into the abyss is international working class revolution. The only way this revolution can succeed is through the development of collective self-organization of the working class in struggle; breaking through all the divisions capitalism imposes on it. From this self-organization of the struggle will arise the self-organization of the post-capitalist world.
4. The crisis inevitably provokes social convulsions. In each of them, contradictory forces are at work. In every struggle, there will be voices pleading for giving in, for ending the fight. There will be those who defend the particularity of each struggle, to keep it isolated. There will be those who will try to redirect the anger away from capitalism towards workers of other countries or towards immigrants or other scapegoats. But in every struggle, there also will be the urge to push ahead, to take the movement as far as it can go; there will be voices that plead for the extension of the struggle, for the unity of the exploited, for collective self-organization, against respect for capitalist laws and institutions. And increasingly, there will be voices that will clearly state that the real enemy is capitalism itself.
5. What the outcome of the confrontation of these contradictory forces will be is not predetermined. Pro-revolutionaries recognize that they are part of the equation. The social force that works towards the overthrowing of capitalism takes many forms and they are one of them. So they participate in the struggle of the exploited whenever they can on the side of those pushing to widen the envelope.
6. Their theoretical clarity can be an important catalyst in the development of the understanding, throughout the working class and even beyond, of what’s at stake. But to play its role, the pro-revolutionary milieu must transcend its fragmentation by coming together to defend basic revolutionary positions with a clear and loud voice.
7. It is time that the pro-revolutionary milieu openly recognizes that the acceleration of capital’s crisis, of both its depth and its breadth, has raised the stakes considerably. It needs to weigh its differences and disagreements against its obligations at this hour of urgency. Of course the groups and circles in the milieu are deeply divided, but if each has an aspiration to defend revolutionary positions then that is the basis for us to put them forward together. Seeing our way through the challenges ahead demands that we disseminate our ideas in as public a way and as often as possible through common discussions, common meetings, common statements and interventions. If the pro-revolutionary milieu does not put forward the revolutionary perspective, then who will? Who will discuss openly inside the working class both the historical meaning of its struggles in the face of this crisis and the consequences of letting the ruling class have its way?
8. Theoretical disagreements aren’t the obstacle to working together, they are part of the stuff of the revolutionary life of the proletariat; the obstacle is sectarianism. The milieu has a stark choice to make. Agreeing with the above would only be a first step; we have to actually do it. And we don’t have forever to think about it. Capitalism will not die by itself. We are determined to do our part.
March 2, 2009, Internationalist Perspective, http://internationalist-perspective.org/blog/2009/03/02/appeal-to-the-pro-revolutionary-milieu/
We greet and support the appeal of Internationalist Perspectives (IP) addressed at groups and circles of the revolutionary milieu. We share all the essential conclusions and their implications :
The dramatic situation of the crisis puts the stakes of the present situation far higher. The proletariat is still the only social force capable to give an answer to the crisis of an outlived system. More than ever, the generalised character of the crisis of the capitalist system needs clear replies about the ways and means revolutionaries have to put forward before the world proletariat during the inevitable clashes of the class in which it will have to engage itself to save humanity from the disastrous future the bourgeoisie is preparing for it.
Internationalism will be nodal point of recognition and of gathering of the most conscious elements within the vanguards of the proletariat. Unfortunately, these are not only dispersed and split up by profound disagreements, but also by conflicts which left painful wounds. That is why we support all efforts which will be made to overcome these heritages of the past.
Therefore, on top of the necessities and goals underlined in the Appeal of IP, we think that, not withstanding the different historical period, we need to follow up with the spirit and orientations which gave life to Bilan when it noted in the introduction of its first theoretical bulletin that: “Our fraction, in bringing out the publication of this bulletin does not think to bring definitive solutions to the terrible problems which are posed to the proletariat of all countries. […] it does not refer to its political precedents in order to ask for adhesion for the solution it promotes for the present situation. On the contrary, it invites revolutionaries to subdue the actual positions it defends to the verification of the events just like the political positions contained in its basic documents. […] October 1917 has been possible because in Russia there was a party which had been prepared for for a long time, which had, through an uninterrupted series of political struggles, interrogated all the questions posed to the Russian and world proletariat after the defeat of 1905. It was from this defeat that the executives came forward to lead the battles of 1917. These executives were formed in the heat of intense criticisms aimed at reestablishing the ideas of Marxism in all sectors of knowledge, economy, tactics, organisation: no dogma could stop the works of the bolsheviks and it was precisely for that reason that they could fulfil their mission. […] Those who opposed this indispensable work of historical analysis with the phrase of the immediate mobilisation of the workers only sew confusion, prevented the real resurgence of the proletarian struggles […] And this knowledge cannot endure any ban or ostracism. Our fraction would have preferred that such a work would be undertaken by an international organism, convinced as it is of the necessity of the political confrontation between the groups who are capable to represent the proletarian class of several countries. We would also be very happy to put this bulletin before an international organism applying serious methods of work and with the will to conduct a healthy political polemic.”
We thus think that the resurgence of contacts within the revolutionary milieu should also take care of the tasks of “reestablishing the ideas of Marxism in all sectors of knowledge”, and this with “no dogma” nor “any ban or ostracism”, without “opposing this indispensable work of historical analysis with the phrase of the immediate mobilisation of the workers” and with ” the will to conduct a healthy political polemic.” Because it is only on the basis of such a balance sheet that, in the image of the bolsheviks, the basis can be gradually developed for a successful new October 1917.
Nevertheless, whatever choice will be made by those who reply positively to this Appeal, we commit ourselves already to support all initiatives, however modest they might be, going in the same direction. As for ourselves, we have already committed ourselves: (a) by positively participating in the debate on “The Crisis” organised by IP in March 2009 in Brussels; (b) by replying favourable tot its Appeal; (c) by committing ourselves to participate with all our means; and (d) by proposing shortly other concrete initiatives in the same direction.
We wish all success to the initiative of PI and we are convinced that it will meet gradually an ever stronger support in the weeks to come, as we have ever more echos of intended positive replies by other groups and elements with whom we have contacts.
With our best revolutionary greetings, Controverses, Forum for the Internationalist Communist Left.
March 29, 2009.
Translated from French by Vico, 23 April 2009.