PUBLIC MEETING - The Historical Need for Communism

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pcint
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Jun 5 2012 14:52
PUBLIC MEETING - The Historical Need for Communism

PUBLIC MEETING
The Historical Need for Communism
at Casa Bar, 29 Hope Street, Liverpool
2pm - Saturday 23rd June 2012

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The Crisis in Greece and False Parliamentary Alternatives

Over the last three years, in order to safeguard the profits it derives from industry and finance, the Greek bourgeoisie in alliance with international capital has declared war, by cutting the wages of the proletariat and stealthily purloining the wealth of the middle classes. Over the last few months the regime has managed to obliterate the results of decades of workers’ struggle: it has abolished national labour contracts and reintroduced individual ones; it has cut salaries, by around 30%; and it has reduced pensions, which are amongst the lowest in Europe.

All sectors are in crisis, and although particularly bad in the building industry agriculture and services have also been badly affected. The official unemployment figures are 20%, rising to 50% among the young, and the unemployed now outnumber those in work. The government has also made a commitment to sack a further 150 thousand public sector workers by 2015.

After placing these items on the debit side of the State balance sheet, the Greek government has tried to reduce social tension by channelling it into yet another ridiculous parliamentary election.

The so-called electoral ‘trial’, which was held this 6th May, merely confirms that the majority of the population are against the so-called ‘austerity measures’ of the last few years: in fact, almost 35% of the electors didn’t bother to vote, a high percentage in a country where, following a period of military dictatorship, democratic rituals have generally been perceived as a ‘conquest’, above all by ‘left-wing’ electors.

Over recent decades two parties, Pasok (centre-left) and New Democracy (centre-right), have alternated in government, sharing the power and the kickbacks. Both are supporters of the ‘technical’ Papidimos government, and both did very badly in the election. Compared to the 2009 elections, Pasok’s share of the vote dropped from 44 to 13%, and New Democracy’s from 33 to 19%.

‘Left’ voters have switched their allegiance from Pasok to the so-called ‘radical’ coalition, Syriza, which became the second biggest party in parliament. But voting for Syriza was in fact a ‘sensible’ compromise vote, as it wants to remain in the European Union, although it is opposed to the diktat of the Troika (European Union, European central bank and International Monetary Fund). Indeed most Greeks still have something to lose, and fear the collapse of the State and exiting from the European Union.

The Communist Organisation of Greece (Koe), which is on the radical fringe of Syriza, announced that: «Today the Greek people have passed a vote of no confidence in the pro-troika parties (Fmi-UE-BCE) and triggered a veritable earthquake, shaking the entire political system. Our people have sent a thundering message to the troika (…) The road to another type of representation, another political system, the road to real democracy and a radical transition now opens before us». These lightweight communists, with their, ”thundering messages”, want to divert the movement of strikes and demonstrations, which has been spreading throughout the country for over two years, and channel its energy into the ballot boxes, with them stepping forward as the movement’s ‘mature’ political representatives. If the working class falls for this ruse it will be game, set and match to the bourgeoisie.

Syriza’s demagogic and deceitful programme responds to this requirement. Today, no government, even a ‘left-wing’ one, can implement a defence of the working class, not in Greece or in any other country. All parliaments and governments, whatever their political complexion, are organs of the bourgeois State and defend the interests of the bourgeois class. Only through struggle can the working class defend itself, and it is a struggle that needs to take place outside the confines of the irrelevant, mercenary and corrupt institution that is parliament.

The KKE, the Communist Party of Greece, is meanwhile completely integrated into the bourgeois State. Even very recently it has provided abundant proof of this through its control of the important trade union, PAME, and through its evident wish to keep the social movement tightly controlled and within the bounds of bourgeois order. Although opposed to the reconstruction of genuine class unions open to all workers, it is currently trying to appear ‘extremist’ by calling for Greece to leave the European Union. But the KKE as well is just playing a part in the parliamentary melodrama. In Italy we exposed the Italian Communist Party, the ‘party of struggle and government’ decades ago; a party which hinted to militants it was ‘playing a double game’, one involving both the electoral path and another, more subterranean one, which involved revolution. But the two ‘paths’, with the party supposedly choosing between them according to the circumstances, never actually existed. As has always been the case, it’s a matter of either preparing for the revolution, or preparing for elections. Today, looking back at the various disasters into which the international proletariat has been led by democracy and Stalinism, we have no hesitation in reaffirming that position.

On the right, the votes have passed from New Democracy to some minor parties and to the national-socialist Golden Dawn. The latter attributes the crisis to ‘Jewish usurers’, to immigrants stealing jobs off the Greeks and gypsies snatching handbags from little old ladies. They shout about the dictatorship of Europe and ‘Greece for the Greeks’; and with 7% of the votes their shaved heads will be entitled to rant and rave in the democratic menagerie of the Hellenic parliament.

As we can see, the electoral ritual is far from being the waste of money it might appear: it is still being used as an instrument to distract workers, by deluding them that ‘something good’ will come out of it; that ‘new people’, new political forces, a new government will take some kind of initiative that will protect their standard of living. The fact is, if the workers aren’t able to get organised and resist on a class basis with their own powerful organisation, fighting not with voting slips but in the streets, they will inevitably be forced to put up with increasingly bad conditions.

Moving beyond the results of the elections, the convulsions of the Greek political system and the ridiculous antics of its politicians, the central questions are still that of the economic crisis, and what the real prospects are for the proletariat.

Whether or not Greece stays in the European Community, whether it leaves because forced out by Germany or abandons it of its own volition, whether it disengages from the Euro and returns to the Drachma, whether its nationalises the property of the banks, it is these alternatives that will determine the future prospects for the proletariat and the economy rather than any particular policy of any particular government. But the bourgeois States now have very little room for manoeuvre, and the bigger and more powerful states even less. The ‘dominant’ bourgeois German State is the most constrained of all, and the big capital which has based its centre of accumulation in Germany will have the most to lose.

At a certain moment the only possible choice they can ‘freely’ make is that of war between the imperial powers. Faced with this menacing prospect the salvation of the working class lies not in nationalism, already on the increase, nor in the illusion that it can escape from the grip of German imperialism, as preached in Greece by both right and left, but rather in the international union of the workers’ movement; in the alliance between proletarians of different countries, united in a common perspective that has learned from the lethal mistake of trusting in parliamentary, national, pacifist or inter-classist solutions, and is committed instead to the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism.

INTERNATIONAL COMMUNIST PARTY
http://www.international-communist-party.org/
icparty@international-communist-party.org

Spikymike
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Jun 5 2012 17:53

You know I can't remember seeing any meeting for this left communist group ( more dogmatic than most) in this country for decades at least - last I knew it was represented by just one man in Liverpool.

This 'statement' is better than most of theirs recently but it's a pity they/he isn't willing (as far as I'm aware) to actually engage in discusion of these issues on this site rather than just engage in these opportunistic fishing exercises.

I'm otherwise commited to attending meetings at the Sheffield Anarchist Bookfair on the same day otherwise I might have been tempted to go along.

Spikymike
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Jun 5 2012 17:59

PS: ...And just realised this isn't 'news' is it - perhaps they need to be reminded?

morven
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Jun 6 2012 09:02

Wow, a PCINT meeting in Britain, pigs must be flying. Like Spiky I have never seen a meeting advertised by them since I've been politically active (nearly 20 years).

If I wasn't going to the ICC dayschool - why do left communists/anarchists meetings always seem to happen at the same time? The audience can't be that large - I'd be there.

slothjabber
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Jun 14 2012 00:44

I think we should be applauding them having one at all. Shame it's on the same day as other events though.

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Alf
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Jun 14 2012 15:27

Obviously we will be focussed on our discussion day in London but we are hoping that an ICC comrade will be present.

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Entdinglichung
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Jun 14 2012 15:32

which PCInt? ... weren't there 3-5?

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the button
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Jun 14 2012 15:35

That website is amazing. There's a page called

Quote:
THE UNITARY AND INVARIANT BODY OF PARTY THESES

cool

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Entdinglichung
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Jun 14 2012 15:50
the button wrote:
That website is amazing. There's a page called
Quote:
THE UNITARY AND INVARIANT BODY OF PARTY THESES

cool

reminds me both of this and of 10 year old machine translations

slothjabber
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Jun 14 2012 15:55
Entdinglichung wrote:
which PCInt? ... weren't there 3-5?

I think it's the ones known as 'Il Partito'. They seem to be the ones that publish 'Il Partito Comunista' anyway.

pcint
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Jun 14 2012 20:37

PUBLIC MEETING

at (Downstairs) Casa Bar
29 Hope Street, Liverpool
2pm - Saturday 23rd June 2012

Presentations:

* The Historical Need for Communism

The capitalist system of production, based upon the exploitation of the working class, is increasingly in crisis – it is driving countless millions across the world into increasing poverty, unemployment and despair. The consequences of capitalist over-production, in an attempt to maximise profits, places the burden of the crisis upon the world-wide working class, as well as increasingly wrecking the environment of the planet.
The emancipation of the working class (the ending of wage-slavery) is not only needed for sake of the interests of the workers, but will also usher in a higher form of production which meets the needs of all of humanity (defined by Marxism as Communism). Production for need not profit is the historical solution to all the problems of class-ridden society. The Historical Need for Communism is even higher on the agenda than ever before!

* The Experience of the Workers in Italy:
Outside of and Against the Existing Unions

An examination of the experiences of the workers movement in Italy leading up to the 1960s and 1970s. This presentation, written in 1979, is even more valid today as it was then.

INTERNATIONAL COMMUNIST PARTY

Communist Left
http://www.international-communist-party.org/CommLeft/CL31_32.htm

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ocelot
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Jun 15 2012 16:00
pcint wrote:
The Historical Need for Communism is even higher on the agenda than ever before!

not to mention the Hysterical Need for Capitals... grin

Quote:
This presentation, written in 1979, is even more valid today as it was then.

Hot off the press...

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Alf
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Jun 15 2012 16:08

It's not difficult to parody the style of the Bordigists. They are, in our view as well, stuck in a kind of time-warp, given theoretical justification by the theory of invariance, which I don't think was invented until the 1950s. But they are a current which - for all its weaknesses, especially on the national question - has not abandoned the principles of internationalism. That's why we will approach this meeting from a standpoint of solidarity - even though this may not be reciprocated by the PCInt

slothjabber
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Jun 26 2012 01:04

Did anyone go? Is there any kind of report?

morven
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Jun 26 2012 10:26

Yes, two ICC comrades attended (plus five other non ICP) their first ever meeting in Britain! The presentation was a clear introduction to the politics of the ICP/PCint and will hopefully be placed on Libcom - I did suggest to them that this would a good idea. The discussion, or as they prefer 'questions', centred on the need, or otherwise, for a class union. It was quite a short meeting but a good start in extending Spikeymike's 'thin red line' - just got to convince them to start talking to/discussing with people on Libcom rather than just posting texts. Unfortunately, they didn't seem very convinced on Saturday.

pcint
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Jul 10 2012 07:19

A report of the Liverpool meeting of June 23rd is being prepared and will be made available as soon as it is ready.

pcint
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Jul 11 2012 16:09

Report of the Public Meeting held in Liverpool on June 23rd 2012

Chairperson’s address:

Thank-you very much for coming today, to hear our presentation on The Historical Need for Communism.

We are the International Communist Party, and this is the first time we have held a public meeting in England. We are very pleased to welcome some Italian comrades, who have made a special journey to be here today, and they will also take questions at the end of the presentation.

So who are we? We represent the continuity of Marxism, and the need for economic organisation of the working class. Very briefly, what distinguishes us against all those who make similar claims is the line running from Marx to Lenin, to the Third International, and onward to the founding of the Communist Party of Italy at Livorno in 1921; and from there through the struggle of the Italian Communist Left against the degeneration in Moscow - forever associated with the name of Stalin and the poisonous notion of ‘Socialism in One Country’ - and against the popular fronts and coalitions of resistance groups. Our task is to restore the revolutionary doctrine and the party organisation, in contact with the working class, outside the realm of personalist politics and electoral manoeuvrings.

In a nutshell, we represent the views of the Communist Left, of intransigently revolutionary communism.

A presentation on The Historical Need for Communism was then given, which will be published seperately.

Another comrade then referred to the article “Outside and Against the Existing Trade Unions”, which was published by the Party in 1979 and sums up the lessons learnt from the formation of the new "base-trade unions" in Italy, which are still a component of the Italian labour movement today. These breakaway unions appeared due to the failure of the "official" unions, which are now firmly integrated into the State like the old fascist unions, and are now entirely impenetrable as far as communist organisation is concerned. We view these new "base" (or rank-and-file) unions as an expression of the need for a class trade union, necessary in order to fight the proletariat’s economic battles on a class basis, that is, at the expense of the "national" economy and the requirements of the capitalist class.

Although we didn’t have time to present the article in full, we distributed copies to those interested, and highlighted that, even as we spoke, thousands of members of the "base" unions had taken to the streets in Italy to declare a 24 hour General Strike. The slogan "Outside and Against the [State-controlled, patriotic] Trade unions" is therefore not something plucked out of thin air, but a response to the reality of what is actually happening before our eyes.

The meeting was then opened to questions, which became a series of contributions from those attending the meeting.

Experiences of the workers in Britain and Denmark were highlighted - but the fact that the workers seem to be quiet at the moment doesn’t mean that they will continue to be subservient in the future.

A worker who attended the meeting was clearly moved by the outlining of a clear and undiluted communist message. He expressed the hope that he would hear more of the same, and noted the difference between what we were saying and the reformist positions expounded by many so-called left-wing groups. After the meeting was over, this comrade told us about his experiences as a dockworker, the appalling working conditions, and how, entirely spontaneously, he had come to lead an unofficial dock strike and how he was later victimised as a result. His story, of unofficial action in the face of the stalling of the official unions, was a heartening confirmation of the potential for revolt that always exists just below the surface in any working class struggle.

Other questions posed by the attendees were: Do you not think the State is getting increasingly involved in the confrontation between working class and bosses? Do you not believe that all the organisations ‘influenced by’ the Communist Left should get together and meet, with a view to uniting their forces?

It was difficult to give a short answer to either of these questions but, at any rate, our comrade replied to the first one by recalling that the State has always interfered in working class/capitalist confrontations, and always, of course, on the side of capitalists as it is the State of capitalism, not the state of all classes as they would have us believe. There may be times when its presence is not so obvious because the situation does not require it, as in the second post war period (at least in the Western democracies) but history has proved that it is always there, in all countries, ready to compensate for any shortcomings in control over the proletariat; and examples of this were given.

The second question is an old one, and goes back to the time of the separation of our party from the "Internationalists"; who had failed to understand the lessons of the Left and of the counterrevolution. The rebirth of the Party in 1952 on firm and clear foundations, after the period of elation that followed World War II, meant a neat and definitive separation from the "Internationalists" and from their positions. To talk now of mergers or joint actions is therefore deprived of any historical significance. But, of course, any revolutionary who sees in the International Communist Party the party of the revolution can join as an individual basis.

The final issue raised at the meeting was by a member of the Anti-Cuts campaigns, who talked about her experiences, and the impact of the Government cuts on jobs and services which directly and indirectly affect millions of people. It was recognised that the working class is being affected by the cuts and it was predicted that there will be more cuts to come: affecting principally the public sector workers, the impact is being felt through unemployment, reduced job security, lower pay and reduced pension rights. In a word, the conditions of the public sector workers - historically better organised - are under attack, and the government is seeking to reduce it to the condition of the workers in the so-called "third sector", mainly charity providers (isolated and often entirely unorganised) to whom a lot of public sector work is now being farmed out, often on very short-term contracts.

One of the speakers then went on to point out that there are millions who are on State benefits affected by the attacks upon their payments. Besides those affected by “sanctions” (having benefits stopped if they are not willing to take any job offered) there are the even worse experiences of those who had had their Sickness Benefits removed, after failing to meet the new, far stricter criteria. The procedure for forcing people onto Jobseekers Allowance (being available for work) is a particularly appalling and degrading process, and increasingly mirrors the attacks against those in work.

A Summing Up: The speaker took the opportunity to point out that the bureaucratisation and assimilation of the unions into the State, and into the service of the employers, is a process that has been going on since the 1860s. During the 1860s (the period of the First International, and the formation of the TUC) the craft union leaders preferred to be in the pay of the capitalists, to the point where Marx caustically commented that it was an honour not to be called an English trade union leader.

The 1880’s saw the emergence of the new unions, the organisation of semi-skilled and unskilled workers (the Great Dockers Strike, the Gasworkers, etc), these too would be drawn into the same processes of bureaucratisation that the skilled unions had gone through earlier. Prior to and during the first world war, the expression of revolt and organisation of the rank-and-file workers against the bureaucratisation of the new unions took the form of unofficial movements and shop stewards committees.

Since the 1920s onwards we have seen a purging of unofficial movements, and the incorporation of the shop stewards movement into the trade union structures.

How workers in Great Britain will organise in the face of current challenges, with the incorporation of the unions into the capitalist machinery becoming ever more evident, remains to be seen. We believe, however, that the formation of breakaway unions, as a matter of necessity in Italy, is the way things will also go in England, leading eventually to a class union; that is, a union that is no longer beset by illusions that workers and capitalists can "work things out", but one that understands that they can never be anything other than... implacable enemies.

The meeting was then closed.

INTERNATIONAL COMMUNIST PARTY

http://www.international-communist-party.org/English/MeetLive.htm

Spikymike
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Jul 26 2012 10:21

morven,

I see elsewhere that McIver still delights in taking the piss out of my past references to a 'thin red line' (borrowed from my deceased comrade John Crump) encompassing a variety of organised (and less organised) political groups and tendencies represented in discussions and library posts on this site, but please don't take advantage of that to rope me into support for extending that line even thinner to the PCI. The many criticisms I have made on past discussion threads of left communist (and many anarchist) groups still stand - in particular my criticism of their unjustified self-importance (given their small size and isolation from the working class) and their apparent pschological need to justify their distinctiveness and (separate) existance by a self-selected attachment to some past historical linneage - all of which appear in extreme form in the PCI. I don't see their appearance on the scene in the UK as ''a good start' but rather a retreat into their armour plated dogma.

Sorry if that seems like a retreat of my own from my usual fluffy comradelyness to the 'thin red line' but it seems to be a necessary correction.

morven
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Jul 26 2012 10:29

Spiky,

Fair enough, wasn't trying to 'take advantage' just liked the phrase - and I've never ever thought of you as 'fluffy' grin