As you know(1), since the very beginning of our group's existence, in spite of our weak forces, we've always tried to structure, coordinate and centralise the forces of the international proletariat in its struggle against worldwide Capital. For us, this has always been vital and a central objective; a decisive task that can not be postponed.
We need hardly point out the complete lack of coordination between the most advanced sections of our class who are fighting against capital today. Being aware of this, and understanding the isolation, the lack of general perspectives and the lack of coherence of each revolutionary group, (all of which results from decades of counterrevolutionary domination). We recognise that internationalism is a practical and essential task for revolutionaries. All this was the very starting-point of contacts between us, of our (still too limited) activities in common, and of all the meetings that were to give birth in February 1986, to the meeting in Montevideo and to the "International Proposition" (2).
Already in 1980, when our group had existed for less than two years, we launched an international proposition to 'set up a coordination' of revolutionary groups and militants, and to 'organise and centralise internationally the unity of proletarian action'. (see: "Towards the international organisation of the proletariat", in Le Communiste No 7 and Communismo No 4). This proposition was launched during the so-called "International Conference of groups of the Communist Left". Far from being an approval of the programme and methods of such conferences, our proposit±on was an overall critique of their conception as well as a clearly alternative position.
Already the first conferences had shown their real nature: they were nothing else but academic parliaments where each competing group had the possibility to expose its theorisations (which, as we said at the time, wasn't necessary since to know these positions one could simply read the different publications of each group). That's why we put forward a conception of the centralisation of the proletariat that was completely antagonistic to these conferences.
The Conferences took, conciously or not, the evolution of the IInd International as a model, and, just like this "international", they turned their back to struggles. For some (mainly the ICC) the objective of the Conferences was to make a set of principled statements on the international situation; for others (ICP - Battaglia) the point was to formalise a set of mutual agreements between national "parties". But one way or another, these organisations conceived themselves as groups of intellectuals, having to bring conciousness to workers in struggle.
We're basing ourselves on the real history of our class, on the experiences (even though they're limited) of the different attempts at international centralisation that were initiated by the Ist and IIIrd Internationals, and especially on the action of the Communist League, most militants of which were in exile, to state that the centralisations that serve and which will serve proletarian revolution, have nothing to do with conferences by intellectuals where each group exposes its conceptions on how the world would have to be.
On the contrary, the centralisations that serve the proletarian revolution are and will be centralisations that co-ordinate, that structure and organise the real community of existing struggles against Capital. Through these historical facts that made up a certain level - even if it was limited - of the formation of the Party of the proletariat during its history, the starting point was, already, the community of existing struggle (not yet structured, not yet formalised) that determined the organisation of mutual help and solidarity, the organisation in the face of reprersion, simply in the face of competition between workers, the constitution of international forces against scabs... as an absolute necessity. It was on this basis that the section of the class who were really taking on perspectives of the movement, who were objectively preparing the direction of the international proletarian revolution, had to structure themselves. (We won't examine here the programmatical limits of these attempts).
These two conceptions correspond to two completely different vision as to the nature and composition of what might become the embryo of a proletarian internationial:
First - according to the conception of the conferences (and if we insist on this subject, it's because we're convinced that today they continue to have a very baleful influence!) the criterion of membership consists in the formal agreement to a set of principles;
Second - according to our conception, since the problem is not to invent nor to "create" a party ("the party rises up spontaneously from the soil of modern society" - Marx), but to structure, to formalise and to direct the real and existing force that is developing though clashes with capital. Our own voluntary and conscious activity is a product of this struggle. The main thing is not to elaborate some "formal platform", but to really co-ordinate action.
We affirm that formal agreement with a series of principles gives no guarantees - as can be seen throughout the whole of history. For instance the 21 conditions for admission to the IIIrd International were formulated against reactionaries but were eventually used against the KAPD. We oppose to all this the practical verification of the community in struggle.
That's the reason why our international proposition of 1980, as well as the proposition we're launching today together with Workers Emancipation and Revolutionary Classist Militancy requires a militant engagement as well as a consistent practice. It puts forward a whole set of tasks to be taken up. These propositions do not constitute a set of formal principles, they are intended for those who develop a real and daily practice in the struggle for revolution. This corresponds to the chapter "A proposition for Whom?" of the international Proposition, and toothe different points of militant engagement that we mentioned in our proposition of 1980.
In 1980 we also stressed the fact that our proposition was not exclusively intended for the participants of the conference, but above all was intended for all comrades all over the world that really are at the vanguard of the struggles of the proletariat and that as such make up a real community of struggle, even if this aspect was not yet being completely assumed (due to a lack of consciousness on this state of things, due to a lack of co-ordination, of directives, of a clear direction,...). We therefore considered that our proposition was not at all our own property and we were ready to associate ourselves actively to any other serious proposition of this kind (regardless of different formulations it may have taken) and to associate ourselves so as to assume the corresponding organisational activities. For instance, in one of the introducing paragraphs to our proposition, we stated clearly that:-
"...our positions which we are putting forward are not specific to these Conferences, nor are they exclusively addressed to their participants. We say again that our proposition is not based on 'how we would like things to be' but is based on the material conditions of the development of class antagonisms. The coordination of class forces which are acting today without any overall viewpoint is an absolute social necessity. We do not consider ourselves as the owners of this proposition, nor do we defend any particular form for the setting up of a coordination of working class forces all over the world. We are ready to actively participate in all the efforts of our class which head in this direction... (as we do already wherever we can). We are convinced that such efforts cannot be in contradiction with the general sense of our proposition. We've taken the initiatjve of this proposal because we know it corresponds to a general necessity. Many of the efforts of our class throughout the world are already converging towards this necessity. Our organised and organising activities should not lag behind the movement but should try and direct the necessities that derive spontaneously from the movement towards the most essential and general objectives. That is, the centralisation of class forces towards the dictatorship of the proletariat for the abolition of wage labour".(3)
It's in this sense that we've acted for the last few years even if the results are still very limited and partial: we're still in a situation of sect-like organisations. This is characterised by the existence of international contacts between groups and by a certain level of mutual acquaintance without the existence of a permanent and real co-ordination that aims at the organisation of a single international centralisation and at the real assumption of the program of the proletariat: its constitution into a one and only world wide force. Of course there are some exceptions when a common practice and common positions are being developed between different organisations on a base of concrete fact.(4)
We never had any illusion about the possibility of recieving many favourable responses to such a proposition, nor of giving a concrete form to such an essential task. It seems important to stress this once more so that we might, inspite of the difficulties, preserve the enthusiasm of the comrades from Workers Emancipation, Revolutionary Class Militant and all other militants and groups ready to assume with us the tasks that derive from this new proposition.
Since the general conditions have not changed, we can repeat here what we already said on the subject in 1980:-
"We don't have many illusions about the possibility of getting many favourable responses to our proposition in this current state of dispersion and disorganisation of revolutionary forces and the domination of the ideology of counter-revolution. But we work with a sense of unity in action on a rigourous class basis, and we'll continue to do so because the only force that opposes itself to the bourgeois current towards imperialist war, is the world wide proletariat fighting for its historical class interests. The co-ordination we propose may adopt all the points we've mentioned or it might add more; it might take a concrete form in the short term or not; but whatever happens, such coordination will be built up because it corresponds to a vital social necessity that has to be formalised on the highest possible international level."(5)
We remain in complete coherence with everything we've defended when we voluntarily give our full adherence to this new proposition. This is why we participated in the meeting at Montevideo, why we distribute texts by W.E. and R.C.M. and Union Proletarienne, why we shall contribute towards the international circulation of the proposition and towards the discussions which shall stimulate the concretisation of such a coordination.
Just as in 1980 we insist on the necessity of interpreting this proposition in a militant way that must not leave any room for any kind of formalism, and, as it say in the proposition itself, there can be no list of principles that can guarantee us against any kind of opportunists or centrists.(6) What is being proposed is the coordination (talking about centralisation would already be too much to expect) of a common practice and of the new tasks that derive from such a practice. We say to "all revolutionary groups and militants ... that there's no point trying to find material for some "Theoretical-like" disagreements on this or that question or in the way things have been formulated. We've only tried to formalise through this concrete proposition the tasks which are indispensible if an international coordination of activity which interests the whole of our class is to be realised. We're not going to defend this proposition to the letter; what really matters is its general sense, and that is what we're defending".(7)
"We do not consider this proposition to be "our property" (neither do the comrades of WE or RGM) but we consider it to be a formalisation of vital necessity for the proletariat, that we will always defend, and that will sooner or later have to take a concrete form. This is true even if the form that such a coordination takes is different from the one we're proposing today.(8)
The participants of the meeting in Montevideo took on a number of tasks with regard to the international distribution of the "Propuesta". Unfortunately there have been a lot of difficulties of contact between Rio de la Plata and Europe. We lost contact because of the repression our group had to face (particularly in France and Belgium) and consequently the application of the agreement we had reached was very much delayed.
We only had a rough copy of the 'Propuesta' and didn't receive the finished one or the additional note of explanation until some months after the Buenos Aires meeting (at the end of August). By this time many groups in Europe were already circulating and responding to the proposition. In September 1986 we still didn't know if Workers Emancipation had the entirety of the material we had sent them in the interest of accelerating the application of the proposition... for instance a list of contacts and the addresses of groups in Europe.
Before we go further, we want to emphasise that we have been fully satisfied by the fact that the comrades from Rio de la Plata have assumed on their own the international circulation of the proposition. It reinforces the confidence we have in them about the seriousness of their militancy. And in spite of our disagreement about the note of explanation added later on (March 1986) in Argentina, we reaffirm that all this was correct.
Today we learn from Workers Emancipation that all contact with RCM has been lost. W.E. supposes the group could have had problems or dissolved. We for our part, have lost contact with RCM since the beginning of '86. Facing this, we reaffirm our support to all those who continue to uphold the project. We want to recall here a general principle: these tasks of the international and internationalist proletariat must never, on any account, be subordinated to the problems militants and/or formal groups who've initiated these tasks might be having. And we must build up the bases that will allow us to act inspite of the repressive and disorganisative forces deployed against us by our historical enemy.
We decided that the circulation of the finished text was a priority as soon as we recieved it. It was therefore sent to all the working class militants that we know and published in our Central Review in Spanish and, to the best of our abilities, in other languages as well.
Of course we've also sent the proposition to all our contacts and we'll send to Argentina the addresses of all the proletarian groups we know of, in order to facilitate contact.
Where and where not to begin
The international proposition specifies seven specific points that concern
the important tasks to assume. When we need to act practically, we must necessarily
establish some order of priority. This cannot be determined by the free will
of the participants but will be determined by existing necessities and possibilities.
Relating to this, it seems obvious that some points can be concretised straight
away whereas others will only follow from these previous points having been
concretised. This means that certain activities can only be started when others
have been completed. This will allow us to appraise the forces that exist
for accomplishing these activities more specifically. For instance, neither
the creation of "internal" polemics (point 7), nor an international
review (point 5), nor point 6 would make sense without a common practice to
respond to the attacks of capital being made a reality. The proposition stresses
very clearly, that these kind of tasks can only be realised by those who really
converge through common practice and who consciously act to co-ordinate all
"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 discussion. It is for these people alone that we propose... the international organisation of correspondance, ... and international review..."
We say this because the proposition has already been interpreted by some as a "proposition of international polemics" or as the "elaboration of an international review". As we already stated on many other occasions and as we'll continue to point out in our press (up to the point of getting tired of it):- polemics only make sense within the framework of common practice. Neither the other comrades who contributed to the elaboration of the proposition, nor ourselves, are inclined to create a review or any kind of "internal" polemics with those who are not united by a real community of struggle... i.e. those with whom we could not give a practically "coordinated response to the attacks by Capital". And even if the text of the proposition doesn't put this clearly we consider the following to be implicit in the "general sense" of the proposition that we defend. Militant solidarity in the face of repression, mutual aid, the struggle to free imprisoned comrades, the response to state terrorism and the welcoming and protection of persecuted militants...
Of course this doesn't imply that those groups and militants for whom such common practice already exists (alongside a process of awakening of the existing community of struggle) should wait for the others to reach the same level of "coordination" before assuming tasks like "internal polemics".
As far as we're concerned, we'll continue to go forward with them in that direction.
Therefore we think that the proposition can only take a concrete form for those for whom there already exists a community of struggle, and this on the basis of the first point:-
"A coordinated response in the face of certain attacks of capital (e.g. on the question of the British miners, class struggle in South Africa, Iran Iraq etc.) in the form of joint leaflets and campaigns, political information, moments of practical relations and orientations affecting the world proletariat."
We want to propose some axis of common activity and of information against capitalist ideologies and its representatives, as well as the minimal basis to be established so as to respond efficiently to particular circumstances with, for instance, joint leaflets.
We make the following concrete proposition:-
To start as soon as possible an international campaign against capitalist war. The creation of some minimal structure, some limited committee of coordination whose task will be to structure this campaign and to organise, in the different concrete situations, our common responses in a quick and unified manner.
Here are some more explanations about this:-
There's no need to dwell on the general tendency of capital towards war as
far as the comrades that agree on the proposition are concerned. Nor need
we dwell on the significance of State terrorism or on the need for the proletart
to uphold the flag of revolutionary defeatism as the answer to these. Fundamentally
we consider that this campaign will have to be centered on:-
a/ The coordination of common action that opposes the interests of the proletariat to those of the whole war economy and which denounces capital for being responsible for all inter-imperialist and inter-bourgeois wars.
b/ The coordination and the organisation of specific actions of information, of propaganda and of agitation about wars actually going on. And we consider it to be particularly important to organise a specific campaign against the Iran Iraq war.
c/ The coordination of common action against international state terrorism, generally based on the ideology of anti-terrorism.
The campaign against the Iran-Iraq war, not according to the axis just mentioned, will be a good example of concretisation of the proposition. This campaign will allow us to check, in practice, the ability of the different groups of militants who have shown an interest in the proposition, to converge in action. Besides that it will also allow for a decantation on the basis of practice instead of formal and platonic adhesions. Concretely and according to the axis we already defended in the manifesto against this war, published and broadcasted in 1982 (See Communism No 1: 'War and Peace against the Proletariat'). We intend to prepare texts and to improve our contacts with these sectors of the proletariat that are being directly attacked through this war. We will also try to set up a meeting of coordination that will be a direct concretisation of the proposition even if this meeting is to be organised in a country, or in a language that might not be accessible to all those who took the initiative of the proposition. Such a meeting will be a real concretisation of the proposition and all those who practically agree with it, will be present, even if they cannot themselves attend the meeting for reasons of financial, language, or any other inconveniences. Such a meeting which has been proposed as a necessity by comrades of that region, will try to coordinate different aspects of the proletariat's revolutionary defeatist actions in Iran and well as in Iraq. It will contribute to the development of a large network for the exchange of information still unknown in the west; it will also contribute to the coordination of a good deal of practical tasks on concrete problems and finally it will allow for the checking, on practical grounds, of the different engagements that are being made, and of the necessary demarcations.(9)
For us the constitution of a minimal organising structure is an absolute necessity. This would be a committee of coordination capable of taking urgent decisions, and drawing up particular leaflets, both of which would have to be assumed by all the participants to the Proposition. As a matter of fact, without such a structure we would not be able to respond efficiently (as we propose in point 1) to the attacks of capital. For instance a flexible structure of decision will be necessary when it comes to drawing up joint leaflets with comrades that agree on the proposition and with whom a community of struggle really exists. When pretending to proceed democratically, with unanimous approval, we fear that these leaflets would be out of date once printed. To prevent this sort of thing happening, we really insist on the essential need for building up a small committee that will be able, when required by the circumstances, to take initiatives very quickly and to decide on the necessity of such centralisation. For us it is clear that if in crucial moments such a coordination would be unable to adopt a single position with a single signature that would mark the continuity of our common action, then we would also be uncapable of assuming the other points of the proposition and consequently the so called "coordinated answers" would become a lie to ourselves and to our class. In other words, if at the very moment when it is most necessary to act as a single body, in an efficient and urgent way, if at that moment instead of a quick decision by a small committee, each group and each militant goes on with their own business and publish their own leaflets, if that happens then we'll still be at the starting point of the proposition, i.e. at today's terrible state of things that we're trying to fight against.
Maybe some comrades also imagine that the committee must be constituted by a number of representatives, proportional to the importance of their respective groups. Besides the fundamental deviation that is being expressed through such democratic pretentions, this kind of organisation is an absolute practical impossibility for the same reasons as the ones raised in the proposition; i.e. difficulties of travel, the regularity of correspondence, etc. It seems to be quite difficult for the coordination committee to be inter-continental (because it would take months to take any decision) and thus the criteria of representivity cannot be accepted.
Whether we like it or not, this committee is indispensible on the one hand, but on the other it cannot be based on any criteria such as proportional or unanimous representivity. This does not scare us because if a rea1 community of struggle does exist (and the coordination committee will only be the formal expression of such a community) then this committee will be based on mutual trust, arising from the common practice..., it can always be checked.
In the beginning we think it would be more adequate if the comrades from Workers' Emancipation themselves would be in charge of this kind of committee, which they already do and which will take a clear form when this group will answer to all letters officially in the name of the Proposition. We already said when we met in Uruguay that it would be nonsense to write four different answers (one from WE, one from ROM, one from ourselves and another one by still another comrade who does not belong to any of these groups) to all groups who show a real interest in the Proposition. Consequently we think that the comrades from WE will assume these tasks and we think they ought to do so with the full understanding what this really implies, is they must be aware that they'll answer as a secretariat, as a committee of coordination of the Proposition, not as the Workers' Emancipation group.
Of course, taking into account the information, the political adequacy and the speed with which the committee assures the contacts, we don't rule out the possibility of later transferring it somewhere else (in Europe...) or to other comrades. Neither do we exclude the fact that once the criteria of decision making have been clearly established, there could be 2 or 3 coordination commmittees, or even one of them on each continent. But this implies that it would be clear to all participants that it is up to them to decide in which circumstances and according to which (predefined) methods the competencies of each such committee would be decided (relating to the geographical or linguistical criteria on which certain information would depend for instance). Neither the concrete modes of operation that will have to be assumed by this indispensible coordination structure (about which we are ready to discuss of course), nor the care about the formal representivity as far as it comes to taking decisions, really matter. Above all it is the real ability to become operational that is important for this coordination. Only this will allow for the structure to transform the convergence of action and of common positions into a real community of organised action, that would be able to act as an organic body and not as the dissimilar addition of scattered groups or individuals.
If someone asks us what guarantee we can possibly offer that this structure will function (since it doesn't take into account the criteria of representivity) we answer clearly that this kind of guarantee never exists, not even in the most representative structures, and that the only guarantee resides in our common interests against our historical enemy and in the practice that derives from this. No formal guarantee can preserve us from the danger of deviation or removal from our historical interests. In this case an objective rupture in the community of action would inevitably occur and all coordination or formal committees would lose their original meaning. This would mean that it's time to clarify, to break away from, to set up some new kind of structure that would still be the result of common practice and of mutual trust. So we stress once more that a real committee of coordination corresponds to a vital need so as to give birth to the other fundamental tasks that are mentioned in the proposition. This is true with regard to the organisation of international correspondence, the organised distribution of information or the perspectives of an international review.
1- We adress ourselves more precisely to the comrades that participated in the meeting in Uruguay and particularly to the comrades from Workers' Emancipation and Revolutionary Classist Militancy to whom we're sending this letter, but also - through the publication of this letter in our review -we're addressing ourselves to all groups and militant that are interested in the perspectives that we're trying to give a concrete form through this "International Proposition".
2- See the introduction to the proposition.
3- See Le Communiste No 7 and Communismo No 4.
4- This acquaintance is still very limited. In these years all over the world a strong decomposition of the bourgeois left and of the so called revolutionary milieu was taking place. In certain cases this led to the birth of a myriad of small groups, most cases without their own publication and without any organisational structure, but already trying to build a classist and revolutionary alternative in opposition to all social-democratic excrements. In these cases the many difficulties of international contacts (permanently sabotaged by police repression in all countries), the lack of organic and theoretical links with communist fractions from the past (often due to a tragic ignorance), the sectarian and localist attitudes that often prevailed, all this explains the state of mutual ignorance and often pure indifference that until now has largely dominated the relations between groups.
5- See Le communiste No 7 and Communismo No 4.
6- See the chapter "On Certain Accusations" of the Proposition.
7- See the chapter "Some Final Clarifications".
8- See Le Communiste No7 and Communismo No 4.
9- It must be stated that this particular campaign related to the general campaign we proposed, does not exclude at all the realisation of other concrete actions. Any proposition on this account will be welcome. For instance there is a proposition from a group of comrades in England to organise in Argentina and in England a campaign on the occasion of the fifth "anniversary" of the Falklands' war. Such initiatives can only have real perspectives in a much more global framework of coordination of common action like the one we want to build through the proposition. Understanding that such initiatives must be part of a general framework, the comrades from Ehgland will discuss all this and contact directly the comrades from Rio de la Plata.
10- Last page of the 'Explanatory Note'.
11- This was a position taken up by certain comrades of Workers' Emancipation, but not shared by others.
CM4.1.2 International proposition:
Invariance of our international activity:
Some practical elements to concretise this proposition (I.C.G.)