– an unwelcome response –
On April 7, two calls in this direction appeared, one from the ICC and one from the ICT. We note that both one and the other statement do not serve the purpose they articulate. On the other hand, we think joint discussion and action against the war are necessary.
“Comrades of ICT” present under the title ‘No War but the Class War – A Call for Action‘ 12 theses about the war in Ukraine and then call on individuals and groups to contact them “if these points are a broad summary of where you stand.” Setting up No War but the Class War committees would “allow today’s scattered revolutionary minorities to combine their forces.”
However, the theses do not meet the requirements for cooperation for action against the war, for class struggle against the inter-imperialist war in Ukraine. To this end, it would be necessary to define in a number of points the minimum agreement that would allow cooperation of groups and individuals with the comrades on this specific point. To this end, it is sufficient to agree on theses 1, 4, and the first three sentences of point 6. In 4, the question of China is left unjustifiably open. 1
The remaining points, however, reveal what the actual result of the ICT will be with this appeal. Because the propositions as a whole constitute a light-version program of the ICT, they act as a means of winning souls for the ICT. Except for propositions 1, 4, and part of 6, other points are entirely superfluous to a concerted action to call on workers to fight back against more intense exploitation, greater precarity of jobs, and a continuing decline in workers’ share of the wealth they produce, as well as against the destruction of nature. Those individuals and groups who do not agree with the ICT’s specific program points, thus are excluded from “No War but the Class War.” This is the harmful effect of a sectarian attitude of the ICT.
A look at these redundant statements reveals some highly questionable, if not incorrect, positions of the ICT:
- Grossmann/Mattick’s theory of the tendentially declining rate of profit as explaining not only the periodic or business cycle crisis but also a decline in the capitalist mode of production since 1914. This theory has led in the past and continues to lead to underestimation of the ability of capitalism to sustain itself. (Theses 2, 3, and 5)
- Related to this theory, the view “What capitalism requires is a massive devaluation of capital which goes beyond writing off existing assets and this requires generalized war. This propulsion towards a generalized war” would finally make “the leaders of the world” so desperate to use weapons of mass destruction which threaten the future of humanity”. The mass destruction of capital, both of as means of production and of workers – a fact that no one denies – is seen by ICT as a deliberate action of the world’s leaders based on … Marx’s economic insights.
- The second part of Thesis 6 entirely redundantly requires participants in anti-war actions to be convinced communists. That is a requirement only for those who wish to organize as a communist minority. I will not point out further here the vague formulations that in communism “production is cooperative” and that people give what they can and take only what they need”.
- Theses 7 and on reveal the ICT’s view of working-class self-organization and its own role in it. Not addressed here are the ICT’s erroneous views on this point, and its subsequent artificial attempts to lay the foundations for the Party on the basis of pure will, without thereby claiming to be the Party or the International in the making.
The ICT call to action is yet another example of the latter point. Voluntarism and absolute priority for the construction of one’s own organization have totally overshadowed the original intentions of the predecessors of the ICT to prepare the Party through discussion and joint activities with other groups.
The ICC announces a Joint statement of groups of the international communist left about the war in Ukraine as an attempt by organizations of “the communist left” to “unite in defense of their common heritage of adherence to the principles of proletarian internationalism, especially at a time of great danger for the world’s working class.” A look at the signatories of this joint statement shows that the number alone of these groups of the international communist left is extremely small. Besides the ICC and the IOD (a breakaway from Battaglia Comunista, the Italy branch of the ICT), Internationalist Voice and the hitherto unknown publication Internationalist Communist Perspective in South Korea; the latter unknown and apparently also kept secret, as is usual when a sect is doing conversion work. Given the extremely limited number of signatories, it is undoubtedly damaging that the call does not even attempt to refer to other groups that invoke the international communist left. Again, the prevailing sectarianism does damage.
On the other hand, the narrow base and differences between ICC and IOD have some unintended but beneficial side effects. The statement is not a light version of the programmatic positions of neither the ICC nor IOD. Typical hobbyhorses of the ICC are missing, such as Luxemburg’s theory of the saturation of markets as an explanation of the crises and of a supposed decline of capitalism since 1914, and the phase of the decomposition of capitalism. Instead, the statement offers a set of minimum basic positions for joint action based on what binds in particular the Italian and the German-Dutch Left on the issue of the inter-imperialist war and proletarian internationalism. However, the claimed purpose of the joint statement is not to organize actions against the war, something the ICT claims to want. But we have seen that by its way of acting, the ICT tries to gather around them only those who agree with their program-light and to exclude those who do not agree with them from these supposed actions against the war.
The joint statement also contains some weaknesses.
- Where the introductory paragraphs speak of the political power of the proletariat, and further on of revolutionary vanguard, we refer to the experiences of the Paris Commune of 1871 and the Workers’ Councils or Soviets in Russia 1917 of which Marx, Engels, Lenin, Luxemburg, and the Communist Left have generally maintained that the mass organizations created in the revolution on the basis of elected and permanently recallable representatives exercise the dictatorship of the proletariat and not a minority organization.
- Under the heading “The war aims” there is no reference to China’s role as an emerging economic and military world power and the attempts to form a Sino-Russian bloc.2
- The statement speaks of imperialist camps but fails to specify that all countries – including Ukraine and the two Donbas republics – are now imperialist in the sense that they are pursuing policies that seek to assure them of the grandest possible share in the redistribution of the world that results from any war. Any abuse of the ‘right of self-determination of nations’, any possibility of ‘national wars’, of ‘bourgeois revolutions’, of ‘national liberation’ in a situation of division of the world between capitalist countries must be excluded.
For groups and individuals with publications which refer to the Communist Left, particularly those of Italy, Germany and the Netherlands, the need remains for discussion of the background of the war in Ukraine and the perspectives for the proletariat. Where possible joint actions against the war on the basis of points of agreement. To this end, we join a third call, What next?
Fredo Corvo, Anibal, 10-4-2022
1 While China is both capitalist and imperialist, playing the lead role in the Sino-Russian bloc in the making, against which the U.S. is using Ukraine as a trump card. In point 9, the text believes that the invasion of Ukraine has already thrown Russia further into the arms of China. That remains to be seen, as an underestimation of U.S. policy.
2 The ICC published an article by EC on March 21 and an editorial on April 4 in which it reversed – as always unspoken – its earlier underestimation of China’s significance. In its March 4 article, IOD was also relatively clear about China.