Internationalist Communist Tendency
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (May 2008)|
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The Internationalist Communist Tendency is a political international whose member organisations identify with the Italian left communist tradition. It was founded as the International Bureau for the Revolutionary Party in 1983 as a result of a joint initiative by the Internationalist Communist Party (Battaglia Comunista) in Italy and the Communist Workers Organisation (CWO) in Britain. Its other affiliates are the Internationalist Workers Group / Groupe Internationaliste Ouvrier in the United States and Canada, the Gruppe Internationaler SozialistInnen (GIS) in Germany and a small French Section.
There were two main reasons for this initiative. The first was to give organisational form to an already-existing tendency within the proletarian political camp. This had emerged from the International Conferences called by Battaglia Comunista between 1977 and 1981. It was grouped around the following political precepts:
- The basis for adherence to the last of these conferences was the seven points for which the CWO and PCInt. had voted at the Third Conference. these were:
- Acceptance of the October Revolution as proletarian.
- Recognition of the break with Social Democracy brought about by the first two Congresses of the Third International.
- Rejection without reservation of state capitalism and self-management.
- Rejection of the so-called Socialist and so-called Communist Parties as bourgeois.
- Rejection of all policies which subjects the proletariat to the national bourgeoisie.
- An orientation towards the organisation of revolutionaries recognising Marxist doctrine and methodology as proletarian science.
- Recognition of international meetings as part of the work of debate among revolutionary groups for coordination of their active political intervention towards the class in its struggle, with the aim of contributing to the process leading to the International Party of the Proletariat, the indispensable political organ for the political guidance of the revolutionary class movement and the proletarian power itself.
The second was to act as a focus for organisations and individuals newly emerging onto the international scene as capitalism's deepening crisis provoked a political response. In the event, the first decade of the Bureau's existence has hardly been one of a massive revival in the class struggle. On the contrary, workers' response to increasing attacks by capital have in the main been limited to sectional conflicts, even if militant (such as the British miners' strike of 1984-5 or the on-running struggle of Spanish shipyard workers) and have as a result been defeated. International capital has thus been given a breathing space in which to restructure at the cost of millions of workers' livelihoods, increasing austerity measures, worsening conditions of work and the terms for the sale of labour power.
In this context, it is not surprising that there were relatively few newcomers to proletarian politics during the Eighties. Many who did make an appearance later disappeared as political isolation overwhelmed them. Nevertheless, despite the unfavourable objective situation, the organisational existence of the Bureau has been consolidated. As well as sharing responsibility for worldwide correspondence and where possible organising face-to-face meetings and discussions with the political elements with whom the IBRP come into contact, the IBRP has issued several international statements and distributed them in various languages at crucial points over recent years.
Finally, the Bureau exists as a specific and identifiable tendency within "the broad proletarian camp". The IBRP define this as those who stand for working class independence from capital; who have no truck with nationalism in any form; who saw nothing socialist in Stalinism and the former USSR at the same time as recognising that October 1917 was the starting point for what could have become a wider world revolution. Amongst the organisations which fall within this broad framework there remain significant political differences, not least over the vexed question of the nature and function of the revolutionary organisation. The IBRP's framework is as follows:
- The proletarian revolution will be international or it will be nothing. International revolution presupposes the existence of an international party: the concrete political expression of the most class conscious workers who organise together to fight for the revolutionary programme amongst the rest of the working class. History has shown that attempts to form the party during the revolution itself were too little too late.
- The IBRP thus aims for the creation of the world communist party as soon as the political programme and international forces exist for this. However, the Bureau is for the party, and does not claim to be its sole pre-existing nucleus. The future party will not be the simple expansion of a single organisation.
- Before the world party can be formed the precise details of the revolutionary programme will have to be clarified in all its related aspects via discussion and debate amongst its potential constituent parts.
- The organisations which eventually come to form the world party must already have a meaningful existence inside the working class in the area from which they spring. The proclamation of the international party (or its initial nucleus) on the basis of little more than the existence of propagandist groups would be no step forward for the revolutionary movement.
- A revolutionary organisation has to strive to become more than a propaganda network. Despite the limited opportunities, it is the task of proletarian organisations today to work to establish themselves as a revolutionary force inside the working class; this in order to be in a position to point the way ahead in the class struggle of today as a precursor to organising and leading the revolutionary struggles of tomorrow.
- The lesson of the last revolutionary wave is not that the working class can do without organised leadership, nor that the party is the class (a metaphysical abstraction they attribute to latterday Bordigists). Rather, that leadership and its organisational form (the party) is the most important weapon that the revolutionary working class has. Its task will be to fight for a communist perspective in the mass organs of proletarian power (soviets). The party, however, will remain a minority of the working class and is not a substitute for the class in general. The task of establishing socialism is one for the working class as a whole. It is a task which cannot be delegated, not even to the class conscious vanguard.
In 2009, the organisation renamed itself as the "Internationalist Communist Tendency".