On February 22 and 23 1986, a group of militants from certain countries (especially Argentina and Uruguay) met in Uruguay to discuss the present world situation and the tasks of the revolutionary proletariat.
There was a general agreement between them that in the face of the world-wide attacks of the bourgeoisie against the proletariat and the present state of weakness, dispersion and isolation of the small revolutionary class forces, it is necessary to work together to reverse this situation in combatting the sectarianism and nationalism which is implicit in certain conceptions of international work. In an attempt to change this situation, the comrades present put forward the following ideas and propositions.
Some Priminary considerations and fundamentals
It might seem strange that here, some groups and a small number of militants, who are certainly generally unknown, suddenly launch an appeal, a proposition to all those who throughout the world uphold with greater or lesser strength, with greater or lesser clarity, the flag of proletarian internationalism, of the world proletarian revolution.
But it's not just "here" or "all of a sudden" that once again the anguished cry of revolutionary minorities is raised, trying to break the chains imposed by capital, helplessly witnessing the terrifying blows which the bourgeoisie inflicts on the proletariat and themselves. Whether in periods of rising class struggle or the most violent moments of counter revolution, these revolutionary minorities discover, one by one, the meaning of isolation, the weakness of their small forces. A weakness which is not only numerical but fundamentally political, since it is impossible to resolve locally or nationally the problems with which revolutionaries are presently posed.
We are convinced that in different places groups are arising which don't identify with the traditional left (Stalinist, Trotskyist and their different varieties), with politics aimed at helping the bourgeoisie to solve its problems, with the position of changing the state form of bourgeois domination or supporting its wars. Instead, the groups of which we speak try to elaborate a distinctive politics calling for the autonomy of the working class against the bourgeoisie and the struggle to destroy its domination and its state without preliminary (democratic) phases or stages. And we know what it means to swim against the current, without being able to count on any help, without the immediate possibility of reappropriating the historical experience of the revolutionary proletariat. We are working without fundamental theoretical/political texts being available in a dangerous atmosphere of repression.
If, for some, certain definitions or positions are "ABC" which we don't write or talk about sufficiently clearly, for each of us to be able to describe the struggles requires a long process of struggles, of ruptures, of fear and uncertainties.
In the schools here they teach us a saying of a famous man of the last century: "ideas cannot be killed". However, we have learnt that one kills those who have certain ideas (or positions) and that the dominant class can over a long period prevent the reappropriation, the awareness of, the link with and the development of experience, of ideas and positions which lives and builds up in different parts of the world. Thus, paradoxically, it took a monstrous repression (with a subsequent state of exile) and the (Falklands) war to make known here the existence of diverse radical currents and groups throughout the world. To make known - and that is still not enough - the experience of Germany and elsewhere after World War One. To get to know other positions which were neither Francoist nor Republican. And there is another history closer to us (which we hardly know at all).
Departing from this we have had confirmation that groups currently exist which don't belong to the 'traditional' political currents, many of whom we didn't know before, and others of whom we don't know when and how they broke with capital and its fractions, but which express to different degrees different moments of rupture with the politics of capital.
But if today we are aware that they exist, this doesn't mean that the present situation of isolation and of weakness has changed. On the contrary, we don't even hear enough about what's going on, not only in far away countries, but even in a nearby city or in a neighbouring quarter. And this shouldn't be understood as a curiosity or as a journalistic question: in Argentina for example, there are continually days when several million workers are in struggle without there being any coordination between them, so they sometimes don't even know that there is a struggle which is going on everywhere. And if this is the case for relatively massive movements, it's even worse with the contact and the awareness of the existence of avant-gardes appearing during these struggles or under their influence.
And we are convinced that in the countries we live in, as elsewhere in the world, groups of workers and militants are being thrown up, trying to break with the politics of conciliation, of subordination to the bourgeoisie, but which, in the absence of an international reference, and with the strong presence of the bourgeoisie in the workers' movement, end up being absorbed by some fraction of capital or simply disintegrating, disappearing.
Few are those who manage to survive the first blows, and those who do so have an uncertain perspective or political isolation ahead of them. Having surmounted different stages and having to double back, they find themselves in an impasse, starting from scratch on new subjects. Something which is transformed into a daily reality, a helplessness which saps those limited forces which already have been politically and economically hammered. Isn't there an alternative to this? Must the preparation of a revolutionary internationalist politics, or at least an attempt at it, proceed step by step, group by group, city by city, nation by nation, generation by generation? Does each one have to go through the same stages, confront the same problems, receive the same blows, decipher the same letters, elaborate the same words, in order after some time and a long hard road, having become strong and "party like", to join up with ones "equals", or, in their absence, to "spread" to other nations?
We don't believe that this is the only option. We don't even believe that this can lead to anything positive.
On the contrary, we think that the only alternative we must work towards is the international one. Just as it's a mystification to talk about a communist society as long as there still exists even one capitalist country, the same goes for talking about internationalism if it is only conceived of as solidarity with workers' struggles throughout the world or as pompous phrases now and again against war, militarism or imperialism.
For us, proletarian internationalism has a different meaning, and implies making the effort to go beyond general solidarity, since the international dimensions of the proletarian revolution demand the interaction and unification of efforts to work out a unique strategy at the world level and its political corrolary in the tasks confronting us in the different zones and countries.
Naturally this can't be resolved through voluntarism or from one day to the next. It will not be the fruit of a long, prolonged "educational" or "scientific" work such as was concieved by the Second International (and not only it), through an "accumulation of forces" ("winning militants one by one" and "elaborating THE theory" and structuring THE leadership which will be recognised when its time comes) for a far distant future confrontation, whereas every day we see the resistance and the struggle of the proletariat against capital (which in reality, for these "political currents", must be controlled, covered, isolated in such a way that they are adapted for the incessant "task" of supporting some fraction of the bourgeoisie against another, supposedly worse one).
If the party of the working class is not one of these political groups calling itself such in one or more countries, if one can't agree with "the party for the working class" and the call for "the working class organised as a class, in other words as a party", this is not a simple game of words. If we reject the social-democratic ideas (Stalinists, Trotskyists, etc.) of the party as an apparatus (intellectuals, workers, etc.) carrying the truth, which voluntarily constitutes itself within one nation and awaits recognition from the uncultivated masses, and the international as a federation of parties (or a party which spreads to other nations), this implies a break with these conceptions and practices which are totally opposed to proletarian internationalism and which in fact are just a way of manifesting and defending nationalist ideas.
Among the latter, the most evident is that which conceives of the development of its own group (or their own groups) as a local or national question, with the aim of developing a decisive force for later on, which dedicates itself to making contacts with other groups in other-countries in order to absorb them or generally expose them through discussions and declarations.
The international contacts are considered as "private property", with a bilateral practice predominating, something which can include periods of 'getting together' over so many years, finally coming together in the "United Nations" of "Revolutionaries". The practice of the Second International is a good example of this. We consider that this path can only lead to new frustrations and new mystifications, which is why it is necessary to struggle against all the interests, conceptions and the sectarianism which produce and reproduce the divisions created by the bourgeoisie in the defence of its internal markets, of its states, of "its" proletarians, in other words, of the surplus value it extracts.
On certain accusations
We don't know if the above is sufficient to present this propositon and justify it, or if it requires greater development. However, we believe it necessary to add precisions regarding certain accusations.
To be sure, many will ask themselves: "With whom, to what point and how does one place oneself within a proletarian internationalist perspective? How to determine this? Who is to do so?" It's evident that nobody would think of working with, or even making a leaflet with someone in the enemy camp. Regarding the class enemy there can be neither conciliation nor entrism. But not everybody is an enemy. It cannot be denied that among the groups and persons not belonging to there is often intolerance, static visions and sectarianism. There is a practice of divergence, a dispute over "customers" in common, a nationalism and a "defence of ones' own back garden" disguised as intransigence.
We cannot escape this problem in an international proposition. It's natural that nobody would think of working in a common perspective with a group of the Forth International or with a third world Maoist. But if the character of the enemy class is evident in certain cases, in others it's much more subtle, which makes it difficult to draw up a line of demarcation, all the more so when we are seeking to take a step forward in the present situation of weakness, isolation and dispersion.
We believe that it is impossible to elaborate an ensemble of "programmatic" points, which would only be the proof of opportunism, unless they are so worked out and profound that perhaps only the group itself could agree, if at all.
One shouldn't pretend either that groups and isolated individuals in each country of the world can ripen in the same way as in other zones or that we can take this or that definition which, as widespread as it may be in certain places, is not the product of a shared history, of which as we have already pointed out, little or nothing is known in other zones.
Conversely, the almost one year long strike of the British miners didn't give rise to any serious attempt at coordinating a common response of the different groups and militants scattered across the globe, something which points not only to a weakness and a hesitation, but to sectarianism, to conceptions of the class struggle and of the party like those of social democracy. And in the face of the Iran-Iraq war? And of South Africa and Bolivia and elsewhere where the proletariat in struggle has received the hardest blows? What reply, however minimal, has been attempted at the international level? How to resolve this? How are the criteria for our recognition to be decided in order that from the outset the proposition to overcome the present situation isn't stillborn (either being ambiguous enough to lead to a free for all, or else being so strict that the only ones admitted are already working together?).
For us, the criteria for our recognition is in practice. And that's what the second part of the Proposition deals with, even if the latter, no more than anything else, on evade the essential, unique "guarantee": the struggle.
With the objective of:-
contributing to the modification of the present state of weakness of the tiny revolutionary and class forces scattered throughout the world, in order to raise its possibilities of action in the class struggle.
consolidating and enlarging today's sporadic comings together, in a proletarian internationalist tendency which exists today, with all its limits and errors, we propose the following:-
A coordinated response in the face of certain attacks of capital (e.g. the question of the British miners, of the working class in South Africa, Iran-Iraq etc.): joint leaflets and campaigns, political information, moments of practical relations and orientations affecting the world proletariat.
about workers' struggles, in order to make propaganda as much as possible on the most important struggles taking place in each region or country in order to spread their echo and to reinforce the reality of proletarian internationalism and proletarian fraternity.
about different political groups, not only participants in the proposal, but also enemies, since this is a necessary element for the political struggle against them.
about historical experience, texts and documents produced in the long struggle of the proletariat against capital and all exploitation.
Theoretical-political polemic with a view towards taking up joint positions and as a contribution to the development of revolutionary politics.
For those who not only agree on a whole series of points but are in agreement on praxis, and who put forward all the points of this proposition, in particular point 1 (common action), it is vital to organise the discussion. And solely for those, we propose two things:
The international organisation of correspondance, implying the creation of a fluid network of exchange and of communication, which should be one of the material bases of point 7.
An International Review, which should not be conceived of as an ensemble of the political positions of the different groups brought together under a "collective" cover. On the contrary, it should be an instrument to consolidate the realised common activity, to propagate and argue shared positions and, to be sure, to develop the necessary public discussion on the vital questions concerning the tasks of the moment, the proposed activity and the "open" themes, given a common agreement on the necessity to include them.
To the degree that there is the necessary agreement, to stimulate the participation of other groups in the press and vice versa; and the spreading of texts of the intervening groups.
Move towards creating a common "internal" discussion: in other words, not limit oneself to the "official and public" polemic between groups, but also the discussion of communists in the face of "open" problems.
All the activities and all the decisions which the participating groups take will be through general agreement, in other words, unanimously.
To whom do we make this proposition?
1/ Anyone in the world waging struggle against the attacks of capital, against all imperialist or inter-bourgeois wars, against all bourgeois states (regardless of shade or colour) with the aim of the working class imposing its dictatorship against the bourgeoisie, its social system and all forms of exploitation.
2/ All those who don't support any fraction of the bourgeoisie against another, but who struggle against them all. Those who don't defend inter-classist fronts, neither adhering to nor participating in them.
3/ Those who practically accept that "the working class has no country", this fundamental phrase which doesn't just say that the working class can't defend what they don't have but that they "can" and must intervene in the struggles and tasks posed in the different countries of the world, depite the fact that, from the bourgeois point of view, this would be seen as an interference against the "right of nations to self-determination". A right which is called for each time the revolutionary proletariat or its avant guarde reinforces its international links in the face of its class enemy, a right which is trampled on each time it comes to putting down and massacreing revolutionary movements.
4/ Precisely for this reason, those who fight against the politics of "defence of the national economy", of economic recovery, of "sacrifices to resolve crisis", to those who don't swallow the policies of expansion of their own bourgeoisie even when the latter is economically, politically or militarily attacked; to those who always struggle against the entire bourgeoisie, both local and foreign.
5/ To those who combat the forces and the ideologies which set out to chain the proletarians to the economy and to the politics of the nation state, disarming them under the pretext of "realism" and the "lesser evil".
6/ To those who don't propose to "recuperate" or "reconquer" the unions. On the contrary, to those who characterise the latter as instruments and institutions of the bourgeoisie and of its state. In no way can the unions defend to the end the immediate interests of the proletariat. In no way can they serve the revolutionary interests of the proletariat.
7/ Those who agree that one of the tasks on this terrain is to battle to the end against the political line of class collaboration supported by the unions, and who contribute to making the rupture of the class from the unions irreversible.
8/ To those who do all they can to contribute to reinforcing all the attempts at unification of the proletariat, in order to confront capital, even partially, all the attempts at extension, generalisation and deepening of the struggles of resistance against capital.
9/ To those who defend the struggles against all varieties of capitalist repression, whether those exercised by the official (state) military forces of law and order, or that of its civilian colleagues of the left and right of capital. To those who, as best they can, collaborate with groups who suffer the blows of repression.
10/ To those avant-gardes who, in the struggle against the bourgeoisie and its state, pitilessly combat those who limit themselves to criticising one of the forms which the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie takes on ( the most violent, military one in fact) and defend democracy or struggle for its development.
11/ In this sense, in the face of the bourgeoisie's false alternative of fascism/anti-fascism, to those who denounce the bourgeois class character of anti-fascist fronts and of democracy, and pose the necessity of struggling for the destruction of the bourgeois state, in whatever form it presents itself, with the objective of abolishing the system of wage labour and the world-wide elimination of class society and all forms of exploitation.
12/ To those for whom proletarian internationalism implies, first of all, the struggle against one's own bourgeoisie, revolutionary defeatism in all wars except the class war of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie and for the proletarian revolution.
13/ To those who, with whatever different theorisations of the party, agree on the fact that they are international from birth onwards, or they are nothing.
14/ Finally, to those who, in accordance with their strength and their situation have defined their tasks against the bourgeoisie, orientated towards two fundamental aspects: push the development of the proletariat's class autonomy; contribute to the construction and development of the politics of proletarian internationalism and the world party.
In other words, whereas the means, the tasks and the priorities can be adapted in different ways depending on a given situation, all of this must be in relation to one sole perspective: the constitution of the working class as a world wide force for the destruction of the capitalist system.
We believe that the above formulations can and should be improved, corrected, completed. We aren't going to defend every last dot and comma of this Proposition, but its general sense.
In the first discussions we have had on the present situation and on how to begin to change it, there have been comrades who have expressed a certain pessimism on the reception it will receive and on the possibilities of its realisation. We believe that in the face of the possibility (and the realities) of inter-bourgeois war, in the face of massacres of the workers, of children and the old, which are repeated in different parts of the world, and in the face of the ever-growing mountain of tasks imposed on revolutionaries at present, the politics of the sect, of greediness, of "leaving things till later" and the implicit or explicit, defence of the present "status quo" don't match up. The recognition of the present situation should be translated through a political initiative capable of recuperating the lost ground and of overcoming grave weaknesses. In this sense, the common engagement must be the struggle for a radical change in the international relations between revolutionaries. In other words, going beyond a simple exchange of positions (sometimes not even that) to a joint taking of positions in the face of the attack of the bourgeoisie against the proletariat, to an indespensable coordination orienting the reflection and the debate on questions which consolidate the common perspective.
Among the objections which could be raised in relation to the viability of this proposition, are ones on how to concretise it.
Here we find in Point 5, if one agrees with it all, the means for studying how to organise its realisation. We don't pretend to give a reply here to each question and problem, but to manifest an engagement to struggle for its concretisation.
It is evident that the rapid execution of certain things requires physical meetings. We don't believe that this is absolutely necessary, that is to say, at present it seems to us to be very difficult to achieve, at least for those of us who live in this part of the world.
At present, we don't see the conditions allowing for the organisation of a really international meeting. A trip of 8,000km, the equivalent of more than 15 months wages for us (more than 20 if we take the minimum defined by the govt.) means that a trip abroad is (economically) forbidden to us. That's why we believe that to begin with the relations and discussions, at least between the non-Europeans and the Europeans, should be through correspondence. This will take more time and make the task more difficult, but it's not impossible, far from it (a letter from Europe, for example, if there isn't a strike, takes 15 to 20 days).
Security conditions (those who have confidence in legality are not only childish but a danger for revolutionaries) also pose obstacles, but they can and will be resolved.
Language also created inconveniences. For our part, and up till now, the only one we have been able to write is Spanish. Some of us can read Italian, Portugese, and English with difficulty. With a bit of imagination, someone might manage to understand a little French, but there is nothing to be done with German. The other languages "don't exist". Taking this into account, what's in Castillan won't have the same circulation and rapidity or response as the other languages in the established order.
To conclude, the initiative which we are presenting has been put forward in its fundamentals. Those who show an interest or agree with it, will recieve a part entitled "More on Organisation". In other words, how we see its realisation and concretisation.
We guarantee that all those who write to us will get a copy of all the replies received. The future organisation of the correspondence, discussions, etc. will be with those who agree and will depend on the way they agree amongst themselves.
For those who agree with the spirit of the proposition, we will ask then to spread it and to give us details (if possible with their address) of groups which have recieved this convocation.
URUGUAY February 1986
CM4.1.1 International proposition:
The text of the "Propuesta"