We publish here some comments on our draft “Points of Unity” from the International Group of the Communist Left.
Gulf Coast Communist Fraction
The IGCL to the GCCF,
The purpose of this letter is to present you our first comments about the political positions that you’ve adopted since the constitution of your group. But first of all, we want to renew our salutations to this setting up, which is, according to us, fully part of a general process of international communist forces’ rise and regroupment at the present time. We deeply believe this process is linked with and determined by, in the last instances, the development of the historical contradictions of capitalism such as they concretely develop and express themselves since 2008 : the capitalist crisis, the renewed attacks against the world proletariat, the rise of economic and imperialist rivalries and wars, the upheaval of the political apparatus of the different capitalist states, the mass migrations, etc… The indispensable International regroupment that you’re de facto also part and factor of, does not reduce merely to the simple regroupment in a single organization in itself, nor to adhesions to a specific communist political organization. It actually requires and depends on a whole process of worldwide political discussions, debates, confrontations and clarifications of the basic, or programmatic, positions of the communist movement with their material and concrete implications nowadays. Without a minimum of political clarity and homogeneity, that is its genuine unity, the future party, even though formally constituted, would be inefficient and unable to fulfil its historical task as political vanguard of the revolutionary class in the midst of the historical storm to come sooner or later. That’s precisely the process and struggle that we want to be part of and active in and to which we encourage you to be, at your turn, full part of and active in.
Several reflections and comments that we should present you here have already been expressed in the editorial of our last journal. For instance, you limit and reduce your “presence of attraction for revolutionaries [in] the Southwest Florida region” (see the presentation text About). As we argued in our journal with regard to Intransigence, we believe and defend that it is crucial for any communist group today to consider itself and set its activities and intervention as international and from an international point of view, even if it can physically intervene and work in one single city or area only.
We would have many questions, comments and clarifications to make on many of the Basic Points that we can’t really deal with in this letter. Most of them are clear communist principles and the fact that “the positions of [your] group are generally influenced by and oriented towards the various fractions of the International Communist Left” (idem) means you set and base them within this historical current political framework. We also notice that you even identify “most closely with the tradition of the French Communist Left”. This implies that you already intend to take part in the historical debates between two of its main currents, that is the ones of the ICT and “historical” ICC. The claiming of this historical continuity and legacy is very important since it refers to the method for establishing, developing and defending these class positions, which are not an invention coming from any brilliant genius, or individuals, but the product of the working class historical experiences that the three Internationals and their successive left communist fractions and groups, that is collective political bodies, have materialized all along the history of the working class revolutionary struggle. Thus, one of the first aims of any new communist political group or circle, and even isolated militants, is to “re-appropriate” – critically and not as an absolute dogma – the lessons and the experience of these political parties, fractions and currents. Why such a need ? Because it would be useless and endless to make this huge work again when it has already been done by the previous generations and the historical currents of the Communist Left; also and above all, because it would be engaging in a wrong and dangerous path, the one of ignoring the past experiences on which the present revolutionary positions of today, or the program of the future party, are and will be based upon. Your claiming of the legacy of the Communist Left fits within this understanding and method and we agree and support this approach.
But there is a third “because”: because the method for clarifying and establishing the revolutionary positions and principles has to be an historical one. And there precisely, is the first and main critical remark we want to make on your Basic Positions. Certainly they could not be but short and incomplete for the present days. But we think it important to point out and call your attention to the fact that they suffer from a lack of any historical dimension in their presentation. They are presented as such, in abstract. Just one single example : “Communists oppose national liberation”. By itself, that position is in our present days, or in the present historical period, a clear class position. But, in the 19th Century, the communists, Marx and Engels foremost, “supported” some, not all, national movements. Thus, it is important to distinguish the communist method from the anarchist one: the main characteristic of the latter is that it is a-historical with eternal, and thus abstract, principles while the former, that is historical materialism (or Marxism), considers and states that the positions and principles are not absolute but historical, that is in relation with the course of history of the class societies. This lack of historical dimension has already its political consequences in your very basic document which “all members of the fraction must agree on” (About). “Communists support the decommodification of animals”, says point 19. We have nothing against the need to protect animals as much as possible from any suffering but, according to us, this point has nothing to do in a communist program. Nor can it be considered as equally important, at the same level, as “the historic task of the proletariat to negate capitalism, effectively establishing a classless/stateless society”, or as the point on the vital need of “a world communist party” or still the claim of the October 1917 Russian Revolution experience. And, while this point on animals is part of the Basic Positions and despite their previous reference to October 1917, they say nothing about the working class insurrection, the destruction of the bourgeois state, the exercise of the Dictatorship of the proletariat, and still the workers councils as organ of this insurrection and class dictatorship. Yet they are central principles of the communist program. They distinguish “us” from the anarchist currents or trends, and even from many “a-political currents” referring themselves to the Communist Left, such as the Councilist one for instance. To develop a real and consequent political activity, these questions, particularly the Class Dictatorship, are crucial and can’t be ignored whatever is the final position one adopts on them. These principles – main lesson of the Russian October 1917 Revolution – are not general, ethical or abstract principles only important for a revolutionary future, but have direct and permanent “tactical” implications in all the situations and moments, including the present one. Ignoring or leaving them aside can only place very quickly, that is in the present situation, any communist group in front of important concrete contradictions and ultimately make it impotent and lead it toward a political dead-end; if it does not actually set it objectively contrary and opposed to the proletariat’s interests and struggles.
Thus, in our opinion, your Basic Positions are not yet complete enough for a consequent communist political group or fraction. And that’s… very normal. We just want to point it out so that we all are conscious that these positions are only a necessary moment, or step, in the process between political break with bourgeois leftist positions and ideology and the political clarification of the Communist Left positions. This inescapable process can only develop through the open and wide discussion and confrontation with the positions of the Communist Left (you refer to) in a systematic way; especially its main programmatic documents that the different currents of the Communist Left have produced and, particularly, by the platforms that its organizational expressions of today have adopted. It is a practical and concrete way, because it is a militant one, to clarify and state on basic positions that have to provide the programmatic framework of any communist group. It compels one to refer to the historical, programmatic, theoretical and political documents or texts of the working class movement, that is the classics of Marxism and the history of our class; and it encourages one to discuss them.
This process of discussion and clarification should be “opened”, locally and internationally, to all comrades and groups on the basis, or within the framework, of your Basic Positions as criteria for participation. To ease its setting up, this proletarian space of discussion does already exist: the comrades who are intervening in the Nuevo Curso network could easily be part of a systematic and centralized discussion of the main programmatic documents of the Communist Left. It could even be a “public blog” or “website” where the confrontations and the clarification of the basic positions of the present Communist Left would be exposed and could represent, according to your own words, a “presence of international attraction”.
These are our first comments and orientations we think we all should reflect on and discuss. We sincerely hope you understand these remarks as a fraternal. We also propose to you, we’ll wait for your approval, to send this letter to Nuevo Curso as well as to the ICT. For us, as the ICT remains the main and central organization of the Communist Left today, and despite – or better to say because of – the political disagreements and debates we have with it, it is all the more important that it can actively and openly participate in these discussions.
Fraternal greetings, the IGCL
. We can’t develop this point here but it could be a specific issue to discuss and clarify since it deals with the important question of method and determines in great part the approach of the communist groups from their very beginnings as well as their ability to be efficient and effective, including in the… local and immediate situations. Localism is the worst and erroneous way to understand and intervene correctly in the local situations and struggles…
. see The Need of Communist Fraction: A Brief Introduction. We also would have several comments and historical clarifications to make about this text. We even think it would be worth discussing. Certainly one day…
. We don’t mention the absence of the union question since we know it is under discussion within your group. We’ll send you critical comments on the Thesis you made in the next few days.
. For instance, you can refer to the statement of our comrade Stavros, before he was in agreement with and adhered to our group, wrote on the ICT and ICC platforms as an example – and why not a point of departure for your own discussion ? See: http://igcl.org/Statement-on-the-ICT-and-ICC.