The IBRP

263 posts / 0 new
Last post
OliverTwister's picture
OliverTwister
Offline
Joined: 10-10-05
Nov 20 2006 21:05
The IBRP

Some time ago (May or earlier) I started a thread to discuss the IBRP. This may have been before a major crash, but I am unable to find it. Anyhow I was somewhat unsatisfied with the discussion, so it would be good to re-open it. I would be particularly interested to see input from Devrim and redtwister on this thread.

The IBRP is the "International Bureau for the Revolutionary Party". Originally their name sounded somewhat trottish and put me off, and people equated them with the ICC. I had read quite a bit of the ICCs stuff, but found them to be too dogmatic for my taste. I wasn't very interested in more of the same, but I happened to read a few things that I liked, and so I read more.

For those who aren't leftist trainsporters: The IBRP is left-communist, it was formed in 1983 by the Communist Workers Organization (UK) and the Internationalist Communist Party (Italy)(who aren't boridigist). They recently formed sections in North America and France as well, and they seem to be on good relations with groups in Germany, Austria, Colombia, and Iran (or the Iranian Diaspora). They believe in decadence theory, though it is more similar to Loren Goldner's interpretation than the ICC's. They also believe in the "revolutionary party" as the organic vanguard of the working class (i.e. less as an organization with a given political coloration, than as the leading elements of the working class given organized form - that is why they consider themselves to be a potential building block of a future party, rather than a party itself); they don't believe in the party taking power, but that power in given territorial sections will be held by the organs of the working class.

Here is their platform: http://www.ibrp.org/english/platform

Here is an explanation of what they mean, and what they don't mean, by the party: link

Now here is what I like about them:

-They are common-sensical in their ultra-leftism. They lack the dogmatism and sectarianism of the ICC, but mirror Loren Goldner and other left communist writers whom i like in that they look at situations sensibly. (For example, some sympathizers of theirs in the US decided to split a few years ago [and were somewhat nasty about it], and while the ICC started tirading against 'parasitism', the IBRP wished the ex-supporters well in developing their politics). This also leads them to have a much more sensible view of decadence, insofar as it informs their critique but does not dominate it.

-They are also (seemingly) unpretentious. They believe in an eventual party, but do not proclaim themselves it, nor even a necessary part of its construction. The names of their consituent organizations, such as the Communist Workers Organization or the Internationalist Workers Group, and the name which they use for many of their publications "Internationalist Notes", reflect this insofar as they want to build an organized force but do not pretend to be this. This is a good relief from the opportunist organizationalism that pervades leftism, and the anti-organizationalism that seems so prevalent among ultra-leftists.

-Their take on the Bolsheviks is pretty good; something akin to "nothing can be simplified to Lenin/Trotsky but the theoretical weaknesses combined with some serious fucked up behavior led to the Bolsheviks quickly becoming the vanguard of the counter-revolution. Lenin/Trotsky may not have wanted this but they played a large part in it. That doesn't write off the huge significance that Russia had at the time for the international working class".

-They also recognize the value of non-left-communists, and do not have a constant need to prove others wrong. For instance they have written good things about the IWW, and spanish exile CNT members.

-They have a history which gives them some weight. The PCInt was founded in Italy in 1943, and I think the fact that they have existed for over 60 years with what seems to be at least a sizable presence has probably tempered them and led to the above qualities which I like. Most of the more imbalanced types either remained in the "French Fraction of the Communist Left" which dissolved in 1953, or split from the PCInt in 1953 to become what we nowadays call Bordigists.

Now here are my questions:
-I can't read Italian, so I have to go by what's in English. However, their British section has existed for 30 years and as an international organization they've been around for over 20. It seems that they've only recently expanded beyond their two founding organizations, and it does not seem like the CWO has made the kind of impact (in terms of things like growth) that most organizations do after 30 solid years of existence. Neither of these are necessarily faults, but I'd be interested to see what people's takes on them are. Are the causes of this objective or subjective? Can some of our UK comrades attest to their experiences with the CWO over the years? For instance, using Chris' "prick scale", are they:

Quote:
1. not much of a prick at all

2. kind of more prickly than prick

3. moronic and thick, but not necessarily all that rude beyond being a smug fucker, inbred, scenester activist-level prickness

4. 3+unnecessarily rude, sectarian, opportunistic, manipulative

5. 3+4+everyone's a fucking twat, I'm wonderful, suck my balls, I'd prefer to be rude than breathe, Spartacist League/Healyite/Progressive Labor Party prickness

?

-Can anyone speak to the above question on an international scale?

-Also, what are some takes on their politics? Something beyond "Och they talk about Lenin", but actually dealing with the substance of their politics (are they bolshies, activists, rely too much on decadence theory, etc.?)

Cheers,
Oliver

Devrim's picture
Devrim
Offline
Joined: 15-07-06
Nov 21 2006 10:27

Oliver, I don't have that much too add here from when you brought this up last time. I have never had any contact with them. Actually I think I met one of them once. I am interested in what others think, and I will try writting to them again,. Last time we wrote they didn't reply.
Dev

Demogorgon303's picture
Demogorgon303
Offline
Joined: 5-07-05
Nov 21 2006 11:18

Oliver

Why don't you just write to them yourself with questions and comments about their politics? Or ask them to answer your questions in public on libcom?

In the things that really matter, the CWO aren't too different to the ICC: they both call for world-revolution and the self-organisation of the working class outside unions (which they uniformly condemn) and frontism of all kinds. They condemn all wars since (and including) 1914 as reactionary and imperialist. They condemn democracy and fascism as equally reactionary.

They see the party as taking a more leading role in the struggle than you suggest in your text. In fact, one of their (many) criticisms of the ICC is that it's "councilist" and it was disagreement on this point that caused the breakdown of the International Conferences in the 80s. They certainly do see their own organisation as the "stepping stone" to a new Communist International i.e. Party. They actually reject the ICC's notion of proletarian milieu (the ICC see this as including themselves, the Bordigists, the IBRP, other left communists, and some anarchists) and have continually rebuffed the ICC's request for a joint anti-war leaflet in every major conflict since the 90s.

You can find more on their position on this here:

Quote:
link

On the other hand, both the ICC and the IBRP have a kind of informal agreement where they distribute each other's press in political bookshops where one or the other organisation is present. As far as I know this is still in force, despite some very serious disagreements in the past few years.

Despite the fact I have a lot of criticisms of their political positions - far too many to go into here - I see them as class comrades.

nastyned
Offline
Joined: 30-09-03
Nov 21 2006 12:48

The CWO are less bonkers than the ICC but their politics are actually worse. I can't really remember the ins and outs of it as I'm not really interested in this sort of thing anymore, but IIRC they're more openly Leninist - e.g. they don't sit on the fence over Kronstadt like the ICC do but take a more 'shoot them down like partridges' position.

Steven.'s picture
Steven.
Offline
Joined: 27-06-06
Nov 21 2006 12:55

I have only ever heard of the CWO about 3 times in my life, each time on these boards. I've never seen any of them, don't know anyone who was in them, never heard anyone speak of them, never seen a leaflet, article, publication, website... Their profile is basically nil. I would be surprised if there were more than 2 of them.

petey
Offline
Joined: 13-10-05
Nov 21 2006 13:06

they do seem a little more explicitly/intensely (i'm sure i'm making up a term here) "partyist" than the ICC. i wonder how you could square IWWism with IBRPism?

Volin's picture
Volin
Offline
Joined: 24-01-05
Nov 21 2006 14:46
Demogorgon303 wrote:
They actually reject the ICC's notion of proletarian milieu (the ICC see this as including themselves, the Bordigists, the IBRP, other left communists, and some anarchists)

Oh, see the ICC are our fwiends.

I thought the IBRP were a generally crappier, probably defunct version of the ICC. I mean just look at their logo;

nastyned
Offline
Joined: 30-09-03
Nov 21 2006 15:27
Volin wrote:
Demogorgon303 wrote:
... and some anarchists)

Oh, see the ICC are our fwiends.

I think by 'some anarchists' the ICC mean one odd group in Hungary.

Alf's picture
Alf
Offline
Joined: 6-07-05
Nov 21 2006 17:08

I would have thought, Nasty, that it was fairly obvious by now that we think people who call themselves anarchists can defend proletarian positions, and not just in Hungary, because we make it very clear on these boards where we agree with anarchist posters, as well as where we don't.

The IBRP are not defunct. They have a website and they have several publications. In Britain the CWO publishes Revolutionary Perspectives and has done so regularly for a long time. They occasionally produce a free broadsheet called Aurora which they hand out at demos etc.

We have a lot of criticisms of their positions and their way of operating but the 'who cares? they're only two men and a dog' type of approach is worthless and not very different from the Labour approach to the SWP and the SWP approach to everyone smaller than them.

casseur
Offline
Joined: 26-10-06
Nov 21 2006 17:23

Haaaa haaaa haaaaa!!! Please tell me you are taking the piss?! Is that REALLY they're logo? What is that the noble revolutionary proletarian is slaying the forces of reaction with? A sword? Guess a baseball bat would be too 'modernist'!! surprised

Mike Harman
Offline
Joined: 7-02-06
Nov 21 2006 18:59
John. wrote:
I have only ever heard of the CWO about 3 times in my life, each time on these boards. I've never seen any of them, don't know anyone who was in them, never heard anyone speak of them, never seen a leaflet, article, publication, website... Their profile is basically nil. I would be surprised if there were more than 2 of them.

ditto

OliverTwister's picture
OliverTwister
Offline
Joined: 10-10-05
Nov 21 2006 19:18
Quote:
they don't sit on the fence over Kronstadt like the ICC do but take a more 'shoot them down like partridges' position.

Well I'm pretty certain that that is wrong; though I haven't read anything by them on Kronstadt, I know they see the russian counter-revolution setting in pretty heavily starting in 1918 and the Bolsheviks as having been a leading force.

Devrim I was actually curious what you think of their politics and orientation. Also, I emailed them once (around May) and did not receive a response, but emailed them recently and was told that they did not receive the earlier email; our recent conversations have been interesting.

Demogorgon I have been in contact with them, and invited them onto LibCom (both to discuss their own group and for general discussion), that is one reason why I had to restart this thread because I could not find the old one.

I think the founding members of the CWO, at least, split from Solidarity - do any of the ex-Solidarity members remember them/have opinions?

Also they've had some involvement with "No war but the class war", what do people know about them?

As Alf points out, they have maintained a regular (and seemingly quality) press for years and while they may be small i'm sure their larger than "two men and a dog."

Mike Harman
Offline
Joined: 7-02-06
Nov 21 2006 19:28

Alf, OliverTwister asked this:

Quote:
However, their British section has existed for 30 years and as an international organization they've been around for over 20. It seems that they've only recently expanded beyond their two founding organizations, and it does not seem like the CWO has made the kind of impact (in terms of things like growth) that most organizations do after 30 solid years of existence. Neither of these are necessarily faults, but I'd be interested to see what people's takes on them are. Are the causes of this objective or subjective? Can some of our UK comrades attest to their experiences with the CWO over the years?

John's answer, which is exactly the same experience as mine (although I notice we've got a composite piece of theirs in the library: http://libcom.org/library/on-founding-kapd-germany-cwo) is simply honest, not slagging them off for being small, just what our experiences actually are - a couple of mentions on these forums and one text in the library.

McCormick
Offline
Joined: 11-08-04
Nov 21 2006 20:03

My experience of the CWO has been very different from my experience of the ICC.

Politically, the CWO are, as Nasty said, more explicitly Leninist and Partyist than the ICC.
Like the ICC and many anarchists, they regard the trade unions as anti-working class organisations. But, from reading Revolutionary Perspectives over the years, I think there is a difference of approach to that of the ICC. When the Sparks co-ordination of electricians was about about 6 or 7 years ago (in London)and was involved in organising strikes during the building of the Jubilee Line extension (as I remember), the CWO did not attack them as a rank and filist derailing of the struggle, but supported them whilst pointing out the dangers of their being incorporated into the union machine if they didn't take an openly antiunion position. I thought this reflected the fact that the CWO were actually able to see how struggles actually develop (and may be defeated). They didn't see partial or confused or limited struggles as only dangerous for the working class, but as areas of potential and pointers to the future. Well, that's how they came over anyway.

I've actually only met the CWO on a maybe a half dozen occasions. Demos, a public meeting on Krondstadt and after,the Anarchist Bookfair and at the ESF in London a couple of years ago. They have usually come across as being human and having a sense of humour. Though they were pretty grim in the public meeting, they were charismatic by comparison with the ICC and some of the Trots that were there!I have seem them smile and once, when some anarchists were love-bombing one on a demo they laughed and, I think, blushed!

Regards the NWBTCW coalition. They were involved in that in Sheffield and seemed to work in an open and non-sectarian way with anarchists and non-aligned internationalists. They did not appear to be intervening in it in order to attack it further down the line. Somebody who was actually involved would of course be a better judge.

The CWO went through a brief growth a few years ago, but I've no idea how big they are now. I'd hazard a guess at a dozen or so. Outside Sheffield and London, I don't think they have a presence.

The IBRP were very pissed off when US Workes Voice veered off towards councillism (I think) but they didn't attack them as parasites, masons or whatever. They considered that they were making a big error, not that they were evil incarnate.

If nothing else, they have proven that some left communists can remain grounded in the reality they find around them and remain human.

Felix Frost's picture
Felix Frost
Offline
Joined: 30-12-05
Nov 21 2006 21:07

Apparently, the latest split from the ICC (the so-called Internal Fraction) wishes to "regroup" with the IBRP.

I've tried to read texts by both the ICC and the Internal Fraction in order to figure out the political diffences between them, but all I was able to find out is that the Internal Faction is composed of "parasitic thugs," while the ICC are "opportunist liquidationists."

nastyned
Offline
Joined: 30-09-03
Nov 21 2006 21:43
Alf wrote:
I would have thought, Nasty, that it was fairly obvious by now that we think people who call themselves anarchists can defend proletarian positions, and not just in Hungary

Come on then Alf, name names. Which anarchist groups do the ICC consider to be in the proletarian camp?

petey
Offline
Joined: 13-10-05
Nov 22 2006 02:06
Felix Frost wrote:
all I was able to find out is that the Internal Faction is composed of "parasitic thugs," while the ICC are "opportunist liquidationists."

well, there you are!

Demogorgon303's picture
Demogorgon303
Offline
Joined: 5-07-05
Nov 22 2006 12:49
OliverTwister wrote:
Demogorgon I have been in contact with them, and invited them onto LibCom (both to discuss their own group and for general discussion), that is one reason why I had to restart this thread because I could not find the old one.

I'd love to see the IBRP participate here. I'm pretty sure the ICC have asked them here too. I'll email them too. Maybe if they get badgered enough they might make the effort.

Steven.'s picture
Steven.
Offline
Joined: 27-06-06
Nov 22 2006 12:58

Oliver - it's likely it was one of threads lost in the hack (in may), or maybe you started it on the backup forum?

Alf's picture
Alf
Offline
Joined: 6-07-05
Nov 22 2006 16:02

The whole tenor of McCormick's post is to include me and my comrades in the ICC in the ranks of "inhuman" left communists who are uterly removed from reality - in contrast to the CWO who "have proven that some left communists can remain grounded in the reality they find around them and remain human". I therefore think a few points in response are in order.

Writing about the electricians' coordination a while back, McCormick says that the CWO's approach shows that "they didn't see partial or confused or limited struggles as only dangerous for the working class, but as areas of potential and pointers to the future" - implying that we see limited struggles as dangerous and not as areas of potential and pointers to the future. True, we disagreed with the CWO on this particular coordination: we thought it was a form of rank and file unionism from the beginning rather than a confused form of workers' self-organisation. That's a point that can be debated. But the conclusion we reached about this particular organ doesn't mean that we see limited struggles as "dangerous". Nor do we think that limited struggles can't give rise to genuine forms of workers' self-organisation, even when the latter are far from perfect and face the danger of union recuperation (recent examples: the assemblies in the recent anti-CPE movement in France or among the steelworkers in Vigo in Spain).

"They have usually come across as being human and having a sense of humour". Unlike the ICC, who are all humourless robots.

"Though they were pretty grim in the public meeting, they were charismatic by comparison with the ICC and some of the Trots that were there". If the public meeting in question was the meeting on Kronstadt organised by Radical Chains, my recollection of this meeting was that the ICC and the CWO were working quite closely together, defending the proletarian nature of the Russian revolution and the Bolshevik party. This meeting occured in a period when relations between the two organisations were rather better than they are today. One expression of this was the organisation of a joint public meeting in defence of the proletarian character of the Russian revolution. McCormick's post not only mentions none of this, but insinuates that the CWO were on one side, and the ICC and the Trots were on the other, whereas the opposite was the case.

With regard to NWBTCW, the CWO "seemed to work in an open and non-sectarian way with anarchists and non-aligned internationalists. They did not appear to be intervening in it in order to attack it further down the line". Implying that our aim in participating in NWBTCW was simply to attack it further down the line, a charge that we completely reject, though I'm not going to go into it here.

"The IBRP were very pissed off when US Workes Voice veered off towards councillism (I think) but they didn't attack them as parasites, masons or whatever. They considered that they were making a big error, not that they were evil incarnate".

One of the reasons why relations between the IBRP and the ICC have deteriorated since the period just mentioned is precisely this question of parasitism. In our opinion, the IBRP (like most of the anarchists) have no understanding whatever of this question and refuse to take it seriously. As a result they are extremely vulnerable to it, as the IBRP's flirtation with the 'IFICC' shows. It is significant, for example, that none of the people who froth at the mouth at our use of the term parasitism have ever bothered to consider whether this is just an invention of the ICC or a conception that has been in the workers' movement for a long time , as we argued in our theses on parastism. http://en.internationalism.org/ir/94_parasitism

However, the main point of this post is not to raise a discussion on parasitism, but to criticise McCormick's manner of discussing the differences between the ICC and the IBRP. We are perectly willing to discuss them, but through a real confrontation of positions and not through the methods of innuendo used in McCormick's post.

Serge Forward's picture
Serge Forward
Online
Joined: 14-01-04
Nov 22 2006 16:26

I used to read the CWO paper Workers' Voice in the early 80s. I quite liked it. Never met any of them, but the word on the street was always that they were "more leninist than the ICC but also a bit more human."

Steven.'s picture
Steven.
Offline
Joined: 27-06-06
Nov 22 2006 16:42
McCormick wrote:
love-bombing

:?

nastyned
Offline
Joined: 30-09-03
Nov 22 2006 18:26

Oi Alf! Stop whinging about McCormick and answer my bleeding question:

Which anarchist groups do the ICC consider to be in the proletarian camp?

McCormick
Offline
Joined: 11-08-04
Nov 22 2006 20:56

Listen Alf, at no point did I say that the CWO didn't defend the same positions re: the Russian Revolution as the ICC in that Krondstadt meeting. I wasn't saying anything of the sort - what is wrong with you???

What I am saying is the CWO, despite it's political closeness to the ICC, has always struck me as not being a bunch of cranks with fairly serious personality deficits because that, unfortunately, is exactly how the ICC have always come over as to me. Humourless robots (if you will). I speak as I find and I find the ICC really awful people.

And I couldn't give a damn which anarchists they consider in the proletarian milieu, frankly.

Leo's picture
Leo
Offline
Joined: 16-07-06
Nov 22 2006 21:40
Quote:
Humourless robots (if you will).

Obviously, you haven't read much of their work. Quite frankly, the ICC text on Tony Cliff made me fall out of my chair. It was incredibly witty, obviously the writer had an excellent sense of humor.

Quote:
And I couldn't give a damn which anarchists they consider in the proletarian milieu, frankly.

I have to admit that what you said was really predictable.

Alf's picture
Alf
Offline
Joined: 6-07-05
Nov 22 2006 22:02

I’m not going to give you a list, Nasty. For one thing the question is not closed in the ICC – there is discussion and debate about the nature of different groups. What I can say is that there are not many anarchist groups which unambiguously defend internationalist positions on the key historical moments – Spain 36, world war two….The Hungarian group Barrikad would certainly seem to be one, and the Russian KRAS another. But the point about anarchism in general that it rarely stands for unambiguous positions on anything. This can be positive with newly formed groups where there is a dynamic towards proletarian positions, but if the dynamic is not there, the ambiguity acts as a permanent factor of confusion. Anarchism classically represents the ‘marsh’ – the area between bourgeois and proletarian terrain, with some more clearly on the bourgeois side of the divide, some more on the proletarian side.

If we look at libcom, it is evident that there are all sorts of tendencies at play – some openly leftist, some proletarian, some petty bourgeois. They may crystallise around particular individuals, but equally the same individuals can come up with clear class positions on some questions and leftist positions on another. Given that we are in a period of slowly re-emerging class consciousness, this is a fertile mix. The very formation of libcom was positive in that it represented an effort to go beyond unthinking activism and to insist on the importance of debate and clarification.

nastyned
Offline
Joined: 30-09-03
Nov 22 2006 22:11

ah, so there are two.

Alf's picture
Alf
Offline
Joined: 6-07-05
Nov 22 2006 22:24

McCormick, the point I am making is that we are not interested in another discussion about our "personality defects". If you want to discuss the political differences between the ICC and the IBRP, fine.

Look forward to meeting you before too long, Leo!

alibadani
Offline
Joined: 12-09-05
Nov 23 2006 03:27

Wit and sarcasm are bourgeois conceptions.

Blushing is anti-worker. It's a good thing the ICC bans such human emotional/physiological responses. Luckily for me, I am a very dark-skinned black dude and so although I am cursed with human feelings, my high melanin levels hide many outward manifestations of them.

McCormick
Offline
Joined: 11-08-04
Nov 23 2006 21:07

Actually, I didn't particularly want to discuss the political differences, so I won't thanks all the same. Don't take it personally, I just don't have the inclination. Cheerie.

georgestapleton's picture
georgestapleton
Offline
Joined: 4-08-05
Nov 23 2006 22:07

Taht logo is brilliant. It's the old many headed hydra but backwards.