The ICC has never split from social-democratic and pacifist conceptions, nor ceased to assert its europeist and euroracist conception of the world. In concrete terms, it specializes in denigrating proletarian struggles in the Middle-East (1), America, Africa, whilst vindicating many strikes and pacifist demonstrations (usually trade unionist) that take place in Western Europe, especially in France (2).
Wherever the place, the ICC always knows which side to choose. In Europe, it opposes every attempt at class rupture and denounces all violent action by the proletariat, labelling it as provocation. Everywhere else, armed with this good old eurocentrist social-democratic ideology, it denies the class character of the revolutionary social movement, as well as the class groups defending it.
"It is obvious that the first brawls, if not directly fomented by the police, were widely furthered by them..."Note that this is exactly the same argument used by social-democracy against proletarian groups all over the world, identical to that used by opportunists and reformists against all those who won the revolutionary autonomy of the proletariat on the streets in 1917-23. Those who opt for direct action and do not accept social peace are accused of serving the enemy and giving the bourgeoisie a pretext to harden State terror. As if repression ever needed a pretext!
"Furthermore, these provocations were a good way for the bourgeoisie to seek to intimidate the workers by the deployment of its repressive arsenal, to make them believe that they had no way of imposing a balance of power to their own advantage in the face of the State..."
"As for the "explosive actions" based on terrorism, not only have they nothing to do with the proletarian struggle, but they feature increasingly in the methods used by the bourgeoisie to perpetuate its class terror. At best, they represent desperate reactions of the rebellious petite bourgeoisie without a future and, at worse (in most cases), actions by small groups manipulated by the State and its secret services..."
The comrades of the Collectif conclude that "a time will come when those who write such things will have to take cover"... and they are right!
Let's remember that these are the same social-democratic arguments used by Domingo Arango and others such as Abad de Santillan against the violent actions of revolutionary militants such as Di Giovani or Rocigna in Argentina in the 20's. This sort of slander, its usefulness for the State very real in this instance, led to Domingo Arango receiving a bullet in the head, and we can only lament that Abad de Santillan did not share the same fate. He went on, in Spain in '36-'37, to play a leading role in the liquidation and republican disarmament of the proletariat following its triumph in the insurrection.
As we said previously, we cannot stop at each falsification and every lie, but will denounce the general method of falsification. As an example, throughout the whole of their article the writers make out that they are quoting from our texts by putting half-sentences in quotation marks when, in reality, they are constructions of the ICC's mind, which bear no relation to our assertions.
Starting with the title itself: "The ICG and its support for the 'Zapatist movement'". Our group has never supported any "Zapatist movement" but rather the movement of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie in Mexico.
Another example: "There is its 'critical' support for Shining Path in Peru". Here, in addition to a perfect falsification, we find a true collaboration with the policy of amalgam carried out by the police. We have never formulated any critical or non-critical support for Shining Path. We globally denounced the group as a danger to the autonomy of the proletariat in the region. Furthermore, we consider its positions on the peasants' war and the fight for democracy to be counterrevolutionary and doomed to deadlock. What we have done, and will continue to do, is support the struggle of the proletariat in Peru, including the struggle of proletarian prisoners, even if some, or even a large number of them, carry the flag of Shining Path.
And while this bunch of bastards that constitute the ICC were declaring that there were no proletarian "political prisoners" in Latin America, we were fighting to free imprisoned proletarians. The ICC remained indifferent -and therefore became accomplices- to the huge massacre of proletarian prisoners orchestrated by social democracy in Peru, under the pretext that they belonged to one or other organization, whilst our group openly defined itself as being on the side of the prisoners and called for the denunciation of the massacre and for international proletarian struggle (3). In reality, for the ICC as for the bourgeois State, and in particular for the Peruvian police, to stand on the side of the oppressed is to support Shining Path. That is infact the basis of the whole police strategy in Peru, which consists of repressing anybody by accusing him or her of collaborating with or supporting Shining Path. It's precisely on the basis of this amalgam that many comrades (internationalist or self-defined anarchist) are repressed. As we said at the time:
"Anyway, we believe that to fail to show solidarity with those repressed, on the pretext that they are Stalinists, Maoists or other, is to become accomplices of the State and the whole international press which identifies Shining Path and its ideology with the proletariat crushed in blood in Peru today."But clearly taking sides with the proletariat by confronting and denouncing State terrorism has nothing to do with the critical support of this or that formal organization, in the same way that, for example, support for the proletarian revolution in Russia must not be amalgamated with support for the policies of the formal Bolshevik organization. Moreover, the latter did not demarcate itself from the terrain of left-wing social-democracy, which is why it oscillated between insurrection and support for democratic bourgeois government, between direct action and parliamentarism, between confrontation with Capital and the economic policies for its development (strengthening of "State capitalism", taylorism, NEP,...). In the workers' camp, we have always considered those who contribute to this type of police amalgam to be cops and informers, including those who "confuse" determined direct action against the State with whichever formal organization that is in hiding and being hounded by the police. As can be seen from the example of the policies of the State in Italy over recent years, this policy of amalgam is fundamental to State repression.
Throughout ICC's article the passages in quotations marks are supposed to contitute statements made by our group, but are actually nothing but lies and slander. Thus, we learn that the ICG presents itself as the "continuator of the Bordigist tradition" (ICC's quotations marks!). If you were to read the thousands of pages we have written in all our published languages, you would never come across any such absurdity. This is pure ideology from the ICC. Neither our group, nor Bilan, nor Prometeo,... have ever presented themselves as Bordigists and even less as continuators of the Bordiguist tradition. The same applies when they quote us as calling for the "Mexican revolution" or that we consider that "the movement of Emiliano Zapata was influenced by the proletariat". The ICC is just spouting loads of bullshit whose only basis is its own social-democratic ideology which makes a distinction between the "peasants" and the "proletariat"; this has definitely nothing to do with our positions.
What is important in all this is not to denounce particular insults aimed at us, but to disclose the methods used by the counterrevolution: inaccurate quotations, falsifications, amalgams,... As if it were a trial, the aim is to discredit us and, if possible, hand us over to the cops.
"What are the 'majority of the proletariat in arms'? A handful of peasants whose desperate misery served the purposes of the organizers of this movement" ... "a few peasants who dream of a kind of autonomy for ethnic groups, who do not look for the abolition of private property, but for the 'restitution of land'... in fact, their aim doesn't go further than the established order, they long for nothing else but to 'make exploitation more humane and fair'"Note that they haven't recovered from their mania of putting statements of their own in quotation marks and attributing them to their opponents (the proletarians in Mexico). Note particularly the vulgar manoeuvre in which they put the words "make exploitation more human and fair" in quotation marks, as if their contradictors had actually declared a such thing, thus disparaging the struggle of the proletariat by inventing sentences that only they assert!
As is commonplace in social-democracy, they discredit the proletariat, try to divide it, label proletarians as peasants simply because they live in the countryside and, similarly, if they live in towns, try to dissolve them into townsmen, citizens. Indeed, the ICC knows as well as everybody that this is not a question of the "small-holding (Parzellen) peasants" referred to by Marx in "The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte", not a question of small landowners but, on the contrary, of agricultural workers dispossessed of everything (4), proletarians who have nothing to sell but their labour force and whose only possessions are their "proles" (that is to say, their descendants) and whom, as such, are objectively opposed to the world of private property. In our opinion, this opposition does not arise from any particular idea, expression or ideological declaration but, on the contrary, from the life of the proletarians itself, from their total deprivation of the means of survival, from the only class whose social and material existence opposes private ownership of the means of life (and production). Attributing any objectives other than social revolution to proletarians (whether agricultural or not) is purely and simply taking sides with the counterrevolution, just as social-democracy has always done.
By attributing different interests from the rest of the proletariat to those who are dying of starvation, the ICC are making the same assertions that have always been made by the counter-revolution. Whilst the Maderos, the Carranzas,... social-democracy, the ICC in Mexico and the EZLN have designated reform and the defence of private property as being the aim of the agricultural proletariat in that country, revolutionaries of the past and of always, from Zalacosta to Julio Chavez Lopez, from Librado Rivera to Flores Magon... to the revolutionaries of today have their objectives firmly set on the abolition of private property and the destruction of the State.
"The war in Mexico from 1910 to 1920 was not in the first instance a proletarian revolution. The young and dispersed industrial proletariat(5)did not constitute a decisive force during the war. In fact, its most important attempts at rebellion, the wave of strikes at the beginning of the century, had been completely crushed on the eve of war. In as far as certain proletarian sectors did participate in the war, they did so as carriages pulled along behind bourgeois fractions. As for the agricultural proletariat, without his industrial brother as a guide and still very attached to the land, he remained very integrated in peasant war... But what is called the 'Mexican revolution' has not exhausted its content in internal social conflict. It also remains fully within the framework of the imperialist conflicts which shook the world at the beginning of the century and which led on to the First World War... and to a change in the hegemony of the major powers." (6)As soon as the proletariat goes from a wave of strikes to armed struggle, severs the bourgeoisie's head and expropriates, social-democracy can no longer hide its repugnance and refuses to grant it the certificate of proletarian struggle, accusing it of being "terrorist" etc.
In our eyes it is normal that the ICC does not recognise the revolutionary character of the proletariat's struggle and we have nothing more to add to the basis of this question. We will leave it to the texts we have presented, and continue to present, on revolution and counter-revolution in Mexico. Eighty years ago, the comrade Flores Magon replied to these same slanders, putting their authors in the place they deserved. At that time, social-democracy and the sectors of social-democratic "anarchism" (such as Grave or Galleani) also denied the proletarian, the communist character of these struggles; but in this period also, the barricade only had two sides: either the side of the proletariat and its struggle or against it.
"Who are those who doubt that there is a revolutionary movement in Mexico, and that this movement has the immediate aim, not to bring a new president into power, but to appropriate the land and the machinery of production?As for the reactionary invention which consists of saying that this struggle was within the framework of imperialist war, we can only add that only those who confuse revolution with counter-revolution could make such an assertion, because it was only when the counter-revolution had triumphed, when the extraordinary revolutionary movement of our comrades had been liquidated, that the proletariat was transformed into cannon fodder for the interbourgeois war. And this is not particular to Mexico. In all other major revolutionary attempts of this century, as in Russia, Germany or, later still in Spain, it was only once counter-revolution had triumphed (whether under the flag of the revolution or not) that they managed to mobilise the workers as the people and make cannon fodder out of them for the various bourgeois fractions who were fighting over the leadership of the State, culminating in the gigantic imperialist butchery which public opinion and its ideological defenders still insist on calling the "second world war".
Just a few rascals who by their silence or their attacks, help the bourgeoisie and authority, taking the moral and material force away from those who rose up in arms brandishing the Red Flag of the worldwide proletariat."
Ricardo Flores Magon
in "Class War"
Regeneracion, 6th April 1912
Over and above the denunciation of this social-democratic organisation, what interests us is to expose the methodology, the essence of the reasoning behind it.
As was exposed by Marx and the comrade Flores Magon (see our revue in Spanish, Comunismo No.35), proletarian revolt is born from the needs of the proletariat. In the same way, the socialist and communist content of its struggle lies within its very life, within its opposition, which is international and, as it were, pre-conscious of capital. Formal communist, revolutionary programmes do not emanate from any particular individual, but are contained within this reality. This does not in any way signify a denial of the importance of clarifying the movement and therefore organisational, conscious and disciplined action, the party's revolutionary action, in the struggle for communist society.
For social-democracy it is quite the opposite. As was developed by Kautsky, Lenin and many others, the workers do not fight for their historical interests, but exlusively for their immediate ones. According to them, socialism, or the ideas of socialism, must come from outside the class.
Here follows the famous explanation by Kautsky on the socialist consciousness which comes from the exterior:
"...But socialism and the class struggle arise in parallel and do not engender each other: they arise from different premises. Today's socialist consciousness can only arise on the basis of deep scientific knowledge. In fact, contemporary economic science is as much a condition of socialist production as is, for example, modern technology and, despite all its wishes, the proletariat cannot create either one or the other: both of them arise out of the contemporary social process. Thus, the bearer of science is not the proletariat, but bourgeois intellectuals (underlined by Karl Kautsky): contemporary socialism was, in effect, born from the brains of certain individuals of that category and was communicated by them to the most intellectually evolved proletarians, who went on to introduce it into the class struggle of the proletariat where conditions allowed it. In this way, therefore, socialist consciousness is an element imported from the outside (von Aussen Hineingetragenes) into the class struggle of the proletariat and not something that arises spontaneously. Also the old programme of Heinfeld said very rightly that the task of social-democracy is to introduce into the proletariat (literally: to fill the proletariat up with) the consciousness of its situation and the consciousness of its mission."This thesis is taken up by Kautsky's disciple Lenin, who brings this ideology to its maximum expression in "What is to be done?"
"Social-democratic consciousness... could only come from the outside. The history of all countries testifies that, by its own forces alone, the working class can only reach trade-unionist consciousness... As for socialist doctrine, this was born from philosophical, historical, economic theories elaborated by representatives instructed by the owning classes, by intellectuals."Social-democracy, in the Mexican version of the ICC, goes even further than this in this negation of the proletariat, its struggle, its objectives, its consciousness. It adds all of its europeist racist ideology to its basic Kautskist conception. For the ICC, socialism not only comes from the outside of the proletariat, the outside of Mexico but, worse still, it stems directly from the contributions of the white European race. On page 16 of the Mexican review that we have been commenting on, in an article on unions in Mexico, we found the following gem.
"Strikes were extremely rare before 1870, starting to generalise from that decade onwards. This transformation was not a 'spontaneous' acquisition of the proletariat that was born in Mexico; on the contrary, it was the result of the influence of organisations which were developing in Europe."That is to say, according to the ICC, not even the generalisation of strikes (the need for which is felt during every strike) could arise in the struggle of the Mexican proletariat. The poor Mexican workers are not even credited with a brain to manage that... probably because they are Indians, because they do not belong to the European white race!
The Mexican version of the ICC explains it like this:
"In general, there was less knowledge about the development of socialism in Mexico than in many other Latin American countries. It emanated, almost in its entirety from the activities and writings of a few workers and immigrant intellectuals; Nevertheless, immigration did not play such a substantial role in the formation of the proletariat in Mexico. In 1910 foreigners made up 59.4% in Argentina, 32.2% in Brasil, whilst in Mexico they only reached 0.77%, of those only 4.2% being workers. Added to this is the immaturity of the proletariat in Mexico which saw to it that those who reappropriated the organisational experiences of the European proletariat were rich artisans."This is the ICC's version of the Kautsko-leninist theory of consciousness coming from the outside: for them, it doesn't just come from outside the class, but from outside the country and is clearly a creation of the European white race.
This is not just a negation of the fundamental basis of materialist historical determinism, but much more globally communism as a universal being, a human community in historical opposition to the community of commodities and money. The historical arc of communism is ignored, the centuries and centuries of struggle by exploited against exploiters, the struggle of the human race against property, against value in process,... and to put the icing on the cake, communism is reduced to an ideology paticularly invented in Europe. One can therefore see perfectly, even if it is sometimes possible to think the opposite, that social-democracy does not go beyond the judeo-christian conception of the world.
So let's leave Kautsky's modern emulators here. We have no more space to mention dozens of examples of practical, historical ways in which the proletariat in Mexico, in its own struggle, opposed bourgeois society and asserted its revolutionary, communist character, not only since 1910, but well before. In any case, our class's revolutionary struggle has never waited for the ICC to come with its ideological wild imaginings in order to develop. Our class has no need to undertake theoretical investigations, to import ideas to fight for its needs, for communist revolution and to finish off its enemies.
As Marx said in "The Class Struggles in France":
"As soon as it has risen up, a class in which the revolutionary interests of society are concentrated finds the content and the material for its revolutionary activity directly in its own situation: foes to be laid low, measures dictated by the needs of the struggle to be taken; the consequences of its own deeds to drive it on. It makes no theoretical inquiries into its own task."
2. During the recent movement of struggle in November/December '95, the ICC suddenly took an opposite course to this position (without departing from its everlasting attitude of truncating reality to make it conform it to their own positions). So, without, of course, ever referring to the few violent ruptures expressed in this movement, the working class (as seen by the ICC), up until yesterday guardian of class consciousness, suddenly became a simple mass of trade union manoeuvres, incapable of affirming its class interests. This reversed unilateral position probably resulted from an nth modification of its biased ideology, decided during an nth general congress. Disgusting egocentrism!
4. Besides, on the American continent, where capitalism was despotically imposed by the conquest and where feudalism never existed, the "small-holding peasants", the petit bourgeois, never existed as a force and never played an important role. In North, South and Central America the class polarisation (bourgeoisie/proletariat) has always been the unique reality. The large masses in the countryside do not possess any property (and when, exceptionally, they own property on a legally formal basis, it is only a trick, any real economic property remaining absent). They are part of the proletariat in the sense that revolutionaries have always given to this word. The search for "small-holding peasants" by sociologists and bourgeois left-wing militants in America clearly shows their cultural alienation, making them apply the European model of passing "from feudalism to capitalism" in a mechanical way. It is not by chance that those who talk about the existence of peasants in America also talk about feudal society or feudal reminiscence and the need for bourgeois democratic revolution.
5. We do not want to enter into comparisons between countries, as this is not our terrain but, given that it constitutes the basis of the whole ideology of the ICC (see their emphasis on this question in what follows) we will at least say that this description is completely wrong. The "industrial" sector of the proletariat in Mexico in the last century is comparable in terms of quantity and concentration with that of continental Europe in the same period and, more important, in terms of struggle, associationism, strikes (since 1850 in Tarel, Guadalajara), programmes, communist organisations (the first Communist Party that we know by this name was founded in Mexico in 1878) was one of the most precocious sectors of the proletariat in the world. Put simply, arguments of the supposed weakness of the proletariat have always been used by the counter-revolution.