The IBRP

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Felix Frost
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Nov 26 2006 20:09

The short answer is that anarchism was a product of the proletarian struggle just as much as Marxism was (although I think the reality is a bit more complicated than that in the case of either movement).

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Nov 26 2006 22:18
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The short answer is that anarchism was a product of the proletarian struggle just as much as Marxism was (although I think the reality is a bit more complicated than that in the case of either movement).

But I'm afraid this is historically wrong. Anarchist thought might not have existed in feudal Japan, but anarchistic thought and actions did exist in Ancient Greece (Stoics), in Ancient Rome (Spartacus) in Ancient Persia (Mazdak) and even Ottoman Empire (Shiekh Bedreddin). It is, in my opinion, more of an emotional thing than being a scientific thing. Please don't misunderstand me, I'm not trying discredit anarchism at all, but I am saying that it is more of a product of a emotional rejection of the current ruling class, whereas Marxism is specifically a product and the highest theoretical expression of the proletarian struggle.

petey
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Nov 27 2006 01:57

the only precondition for anarchist thinking is the existence of a state. all of leo's examples seem correct, except i wouldn't call spartacus an anarchist (though he put a scare into the roman government).

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Nov 27 2006 02:16

Leo, I'd say that those are just natural expressions of class struggle. The natural tendency of the oppressed, when rebelling, is to want freedom. Marxism might be a useful way of understanding capitalist society and the course of history (and I think it is), but that isn't incompatible. Hardly a surprise that the most militant workers saw little to be desired in Social Democracy or Leninism, and/or became the opposition currents within those movements, almost always adopting libertarian/anti-state ideas.

To tie this back into the topic, the IBRP have an article about Kronstadt in which they say

Quote:
for real Marxists, Marxism is libertarian or it is nothing.

* What do you think of that?

* http://www.ibrp.org/english/internationalist_notes/ii_series/special_english_digest_1/1921_kronstadt_beginning_of_the_counter_revolution

alibadani
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Nov 27 2006 08:01

Well Oliver,

That article would certainly be considered and apology for Leninism by many libertarians. If libertarian means blindly anti-state, then the IBRP aren't libertarians. I'm sure you are aware of their positions on the party and the state post-rev. I would also disagree that most militant workers adopted anti-state positions. In Russian most militant workers joined the Bolsheviks; in Western Europe, the left wing of Social democracy, neither of which were anti-state.

To Leo and Felix,

Marx gives an explanation for the rise of anarchist thought. To him it was the reaction of some petty-bourgeois layers the destruction of thier class by modern capital. It begins with abstract eternal ideals, and speaks in the name of human freedom. This was not a product of the proletarian struggle. In Marx's time anarchism did appeal to certain layers of workers, particularly to the newly proletarianized ex-petty bourgeois. Thus it has been able to influence workers struggles ever since. Anarchism today though is a different animal.

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Nov 27 2006 13:33
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Leo, I'd say that those are just natural expressions of class struggle.

I disagree, because they are usually movements depending on personal emotional rejection of the ruling class, yet again it is never pure.

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What do you think of that?

Honestly, I think they are "playing" for the anarchist crowd here, which is nothing particularly bad but I think it is an incomplete sentence. Initially for real communists, Marxism is always libertarian for the proletariat and always authoritarian towards the bourgeoisie.

Quote:
Marx gives an explanation for the rise of anarchist thought. To him it was the reaction of some petty-bourgeois layers the destruction of thier class by modern capital. It begins with abstract eternal ideals, and speaks in the name of human freedom. This was not a product of the proletarian struggle. In Marx's time anarchism did appeal to certain layers of workers, particularly to the newly proletarianized ex-petty bourgeois.

Of course, Marx was analyzing the anarchists of his time, and not the historical past of anarchistic feelings.

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Nov 27 2006 19:11

I think perhaps Oliver is taking his desires for reality when he seems to imply that the IBRP is in the ‘libertarian’ orbit when it comes to Kronstadt. For many years the ICC criticised the CWO in particular for theorising the notion of the party taking power and for underestimating the problem of substitutionism in the Russian revolution. In recent years they seem to have evolved on this point but their position on the repression of Kronstadt has not always been very clear. The ICC article linked below is mainly a two-pronged polemic against the anarchists, who generally use the Kronstadt events as proof that the Bolshevik party was bourgeois from the beginning, and against the Bordigists, who continue to justify the repression of the revolt as a necessary defence of the revolution. But we also noted that the position of the IBRP was somewhat ambiguous:

The International Bureau for the Revolutionary Party , another branch of the Communist Left has an ambiguous position on Kronstadt. An article published in Revolutionary Perspectives No 23 (1986) reaffirms the proletarian character of the October Revolution and the Bolshevik Party that led it, and rejects the anarchist idealisations of the Kronstadt revolt, underlining that the revolt reflected profoundly unfavourable conditions for the proletarian revolution and that it contained many confused and reactionary elements. At the same time the article criticises the Bordigist idea that the assault on Kronstadt was a necessity to preserve the dictatorship of the party. It affirms that one of the basic lessons of Kronstadt is that the dictatorship of the proletariat must be exercised by the class itself, through its workers' councils, and not by the party. It also shows that the errors of the Bolsheviks concerning the relation between the party and the class, in the overall context of the isolation of the proletarian bastion, accelerated the internal degeneration of the both the party and the soviet state. Nevertheless the article doesn't characterise the revolt as proletarian and doesn't answer the fundamental question: is it possible that a proletarian dictatorship uses violence against the discontent of the working class? They even say that ‘as a result of the manipulation of the counter-revolution - even if it opened up a chapter of slow agony in the workers movement - the repression of the revolt was more than justified’”.

http://en.internationalism.org/ir/104_kronstadt.html

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Nov 27 2006 19:50
alibadani wrote:
Well Oliver,

That article would certainly be considered and apology for Leninism by many libertarians. If libertarian means blindly anti-state, then the IBRP aren't libertarians.

It doesn't. Libertarian means recognizing the state as an inseperable facet of the capital relationship, and thus recognizing the need for the proletariat to destroy it, replacing it with their own power.

Quote:
I'm sure you are aware of their positions on the party and the state post-rev. I would also disagree that most militant workers adopted anti-state positions. In Russian most militant workers joined the Bolsheviks; in Western Europe, the left wing of Social democracy, neither of which were anti-state.

The Dutch/German left certainly was anti-state - nevermind that syndicalist currents were far larger than the Dutch/German or Italian lefts. Not to mention that syndicalist currents in Latin America outnumbered the CPs until the 1930s.

Quote:
To Leo and Felix,

Marx gives an explanation for the rise of anarchist thought. To him it was the reaction of some petty-bourgeois layers the destruction of thier class by modern capital. It begins with abstract eternal ideals, and speaks in the name of human freedom. This was not a product of the proletarian struggle. In Marx's time anarchism did appeal to certain layers of workers, particularly to the newly proletarianized ex-petty bourgeois. Thus it has been able to influence workers struggles ever since. Anarchism today though is a different animal.

Well to start with Marx was pretty intellectually dishonest by hiding how much his own thinking was influenced by Proudhon (who was certainly the first to attempt to create thought which could be called "scientific socialism"). Furthermore, the libertarian sections of the First International generally did not call themselves "anarchist" at the time, and have nothing to do with those like Stirner, et. al. The libertarian workers movement did not solidify as a trend until it was excluded from the creation of the Second International. Of those two, it was undoubtedly the latter which was the trend closer to the petit bourgeois.

Leo: For libertarian communists, communism is libertarian towards the proletariat and authoritarian towards the bourgeoisie.

Alf: Ideas can change a lot in 20 years. Besides which, I obviously don't have that copy of RP - but I've seen enough of the ICC's 'polemics' to at least wonder whether that quote was taken out of context. I don't think I'm reading what I want into the IBRP's positions - for instance on a similar note I think they're right to say that there were a lot of contradictions in the Hungarian revolt of 1956, and that although the proletariat was clearly justified in revolting, the extent to which nationalism/democratism became the leading watchwords was the extent to which the revolt lost before it could even start (I'm paraphrasing here).

Edit: Also to Leo: I didn't thoroughly read your examples of philosophical libertarianism in the ancient world. I take back saying that they were the natural result of class struggle, except for Spartacus.

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Nov 27 2006 20:52
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For libertarian communists, communism is libertarian towards the proletariat and authoritarian towards the bourgeoisie.

I sincerely would wish all were, but unfortunately, but there are, after all, many "libertarian communists" who gets drawn into accepting the notion of "the people" and gets caught up by "democracy", support national liberation and even nationalism, trade unions etc.

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Nov 27 2006 21:07

Hmm, maybe I should have qualified that with "real", just as the IBRP qualified "real marxists".

ernie
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Nov 27 2006 23:28

Oliver twister pray please explain

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but I've seen enough of the ICC's 'polemics' to at least wonder whether that quote was taken out of context

with at least some examples. If we have misquoted we would like to know. We do all we can to avoid such things, trying to quote whole passages etc. We think that discussion between proletarian organisation is far to important to be distorted by misquoting. We probably have done it on occasions in the heat of the moment, but our aim is to quote as extensively as possible in order to allow discussions to develop as effectively as possible.

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Nov 28 2006 03:56

So the ICC can write something entitled "The police-like methods of the 'IFICC'", or "IFICC serving the bourgeoisie admirably", or "Jonas has become a keen enemy of the ICC and is behaving in a manner worthy of an agent provocateur," yet the IFICC writes

Quote:
We state clearly and publicly before the whole proletarian camp and the international proletariat: (…) (the methods used by the ICC) are worthy of institutions of ideological infiltration at a political level, and are those of provocateurs and the police at the militant level, of departments linked to the bourgeois state: free masonry, those trotskyist groups that are systematically oriented towards entryism (like Lambertism in France), the infiltration of adventurers and provocateurs. The currect trajectory of our organisation and the methods used are like those that the trotskyist opposition had to endure in the 1930s (obviously they haven't yet reached the same level of violence) when it was gangrened because of its political weaknesses by adventurers and suspicious elements, even if they did not belong as such to Stalin's secret police, the GPU.

All of this stinks. It stinks of provocation and destruction.

and you then ask the IBRP: "do you think, as the IFICC never stops declaring, that the ICC is under the control of agents of the capitalist state (belonging to its police or to a masonic sect)?

For our part, we think that the relationship between groups of the Communist Left must at the very least include some basic rules of conduct, which outlaw lies and slander."

Surely you see the irony.

N.B. - This isn't to discuss the IFICC really, merely to point out that both you and they accused the others of police-like behavior (without actually saying that anyone was definitively a state agent), yet they are accused of "declaring that the ICC is under the control of agents of the capitalist state...", and then accusing them of "lies and slander".

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Nov 28 2006 11:55

Oliver, I don't see your point here.

Obviously the accusations being made are grave, from both us and the IFICC. The tradition of the workers' movement when such disputes arose was to investigate them seriously, which is why the ICC has proposed a 'court of honour' to establish the veracity of the claims and counter-claims. Unfortunately we have moved a long way from such traditions and there has been no response to this from within the proletarian camp.

The point Ernie made still stands. We have actually written an article about why we think that debate between proletarian groups needs to be conducted in the most rigorous manner possible, specifically in relation to the IBRP. http://en.internationalism.org/ir/101_ibrpdebate.htm

In the case of the ICC's criticisms of the IBRP, we have asked you to give precise evidence of distortion or misrepresentation, and I don't think you have responded adequately.

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Nov 28 2006 18:41

My point here, Alf, wasn't whether either group was right in its claims, or whether the ICC wanted to call a court of honour. My point was that, to use your phrase, the ICC sometimes "takes its desires for reality". Witness the above quote, in which the IFICC state that the ICC use police-like methods (which is perfectly equivalent to what the ICC have accused them of) but they very clearly do not explicitly accuse the ICC of being "under the control of agents of the capitalist state"; yet that is precisely what you claim in your letter to the IBRP.

I was only asked for precise evidence of distortion or misrepresentation to support my claim that there is a general pattern, and I don't see how this could be taken as anything less than adequate.

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Nov 28 2006 20:08

Hi

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Anyhow I was somewhat unsatisfied with the discussion

Any better this time around?

Love

LR

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Nov 28 2006 20:31

The quality was just as satisfying, but nonetheless i got some new information.

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Nov 29 2006 00:36

I don't understand why you claim that the IFICC "very clearly do not explicitly accuse the ICC of being 'under the control of agents of the capitalist state'". The clan that went on to form the IFICC waged a campaign of insinuation and even open accusation against a particular comrade of the ICC, inside and outside the organisation. It continues to make the same insinuatiion in the quote you yourself use. Sometimes the comrade was accused of 'unworthy' behaviour, at other times the accusation of provocation was made much explicit. In turn the charge was made that this comrade was at the heart of a 'family clique' that had effectively taken control of the ICC. I don't want this thread to turn into a debate about the IFICC, but you should take more care in verifying the 'facts' you cite. But that is also what we have criticised the IBRP for doing: failing to verify unsubstantiated accusations against the ICC before jumping to the conclusion that the accusers were right. This is what led the IBRP to publish on its website the slanders about the ICC's "Stalinist methods" made by the individual behind the 'Circulo' in Argentina back in 2004. More generally it has led to the IBRP effectively 'taking sides' with the IFICC without making any attempt to consider the counter-arguments.

alibadani
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Nov 29 2006 01:04
Alf wrote:
This is what led the IBRP to publish on its website the slanders about the ICC's "Stalinist methods" made by the individual behind the 'Circulo' in Argentina back in 2004.

Didn't this misteriously dissapear from the IBRP's website a bit later?

It seems that lately the IBRP has begun to see the ICC as a competitor. This might explain why they would fall for the "Circulo" dude so easily, and why they've been hanging around the IFICC folks too. I wouldn't be surprised if they suddenly drop those folks soon too. You'd think they'd learn from the last time they hung around parasites. (The "Aberdeen clique" they called it?)

BTW, Alf what happened to the NUCLEO in Argentina?

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Nov 29 2006 04:52

I'm not making any judgments about the veracity of their statement; that would obviously be stupid, given that I haven't read most of the material on both sides. My only point was that, regardless of whether they have at other times explicitly accused the ICC of being under the control of state agents, they do not do so in the quote which the ICC uses - in fact what the ICC quotes is no different in substance (again regardless of the truth of the claims) from the claims that the ICC itself makes. The ICC could just as easily have asked if the IBRP thought that the ICC used 'methods worthy of provocateurs, etc.' (or used a different quote), but they didn't and the reader (or at least this one) is left feeling as though the quote was misrepresented; moreover, it feels like there is a pattern of this in the ICC's polemics, particularly when it is trying to portray a group as 'parasitic'.

If you want to continue this conversation, perhaps we could do so on a new thread? If so, i have two questions for you: (1) if all of the groups which came out of the ICC had no real political reasons for doing so, why did they continue to publish their own work, in many cases for a long time (such as Internationalist Perspectives)? and (2) why does the ICC have the reputation it does among the rest of the ultra-left/left-communist milieu?

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Nov 29 2006 08:58

Oliver, I think your argument is weak here and the fact that you say you're not interested in the "truth" of these allegations speaks for itself. Using this method, the disputes within the proletariat become meaningless. Malinovsky betrayed and destroyed many Bolshevik militants but, using your method, the accusations made by Bukharin and others have no weight because Malinovsky also spread rumours about others.

All you're doing here is picking up the worse experiences of the ICC, looking at the surface appearances and declaring "they're all the same", making no effort to understand the underlying reality.

Secondly, when you say "(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)." you are completely ignoring that the IBRP felt compelled to defend itself against the LAWV group. Initially they did split on cordial terms, but later the IBRP was forced to harden up their language concerning them, stating:

"We publish our last letter to them alongside this statement to show that our attitude to them was fraternal even if we recognised we had to part company. But this was before we read these latest lies. LA are now resorting to slanders, which pre-empt all further discussion." - http://www.ibrp.org/english/documents_and_leaflets/2002_01_relationship_of_lawv_with_the_ibrp

The IBRP may not use the same framework as the ICC - unfortunately - but the idea that they are somehow saintly compared with the ICC's "cultish" behaviour is absurd. Both organisations have been forced to defend themselves against both internal and external elements trapped in destructive dynamics. The difference is that the ICC have a clear framework for identifying different types of political differences.

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Nov 29 2006 18:28

I agree with Demogorgon's post. I think that Oliver's example is badly chosen and trying to disentangle the logic won't get us very far. Some time ago, when Oliver raised the question of parasitism, I proposed that he should read our Theses on parasitism and thus pose the debate on the only level that can lead to clarity - the general, historical, theoretical level. That could be a useful thread, Oliver if you wanted to start one - more fruitful from our point of view than one beginning with the ICC defensively debating its 'reputation' as you suggest.

Alibadani: you are right about the IBRP's behaviour over the 'Circulo' affair. They realised they had made a mistake (ie that the Circulo was a fraud), but withdrawing the offending piece from their website without comment only added to the confusion.

We are still in touch with the surviving comrades of the Nucleo but they have run into difficulties maintaining a militant activity, to a great extent because of extremely pressing personal and material problems. At the same time the overall development of revolutionary ideas in Latin America is extremely positive at present - perhaps you have followed the evolution of our contacts with the OPOP in Brazil for example.

baboon
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Dec 1 2006 17:30

"As I remember it, the people in the IBRP were radiant, happy beings, bringing laughter and joy wherever they went. They were kind to children and old people alike, leaving a trail of twinkling stardust in their wake. The sun literally shone out of their arse and their shit had the odour of freshly plucked alpine plants.
The ICC on the other hand were maggot infested crones, covered in warts and boils, oozing pus from every pore and repulsing all who came near them. Political positions of the working class? What's that got to do with anything?"
Mackormicks post says it all.

nastyned
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Dec 1 2006 17:59

No, that the ICC and it's supporters fail to get the point McCormick was making says it all.

The Builder
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Dec 1 2006 18:38
nastyned wrote:
Yes, that's right, it's all because of language that left communists look like crazies. Not at all because you act like a loony cult.

Ding!

The Builder
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Dec 1 2006 18:44
Battlescarred wrote:
"Finally - and most importantly - you use "sacrificial militantism" as some kind of perjorative. Do you think a willingness to put aside immediate, personal desires for the good of the working class is a bad thing? Being able to sacrifice oneself for the whole is the essential element, not only of working class solidarity, but of all human society! The antimony of this, the reactionary egotism of the bourgeoisie and petit-bourgeoisie, obsessed with being king of their own little castle is endemic in modern society so it's no wonder people find the idea of self-sacrifice a little strange."
Yes, I do to your question, but not at the expense of losing your humanity, and as before, you caricature. Because I dare question the notion of sacrificial militantism, then I must be the opposite- a "petty bourgeois egotist", which quite frankly is not true.
Get out a bit more.

I am a petit bourgeois egotist and I'm king of my castle.

The Builder
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Dec 1 2006 18:46
Volin wrote:
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;

Use a hammer not a sword; I found it much more effective; I cut off two heads already; just two to go.

Blackhawk
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Dec 4 2006 04:21

It should be noted that this picture is in fact not a logo of any kind. It is simply a graphic the comrade doing layout used as a cover picture. The IBRP doesn't have a logo at all. Prometeo was the original journal of the communist left in Italy. The group around Prometeo helped form the PCInternazionalista. In the seventies this group initiated the International Conferences of the Communist Left, out of all the groups invited, those who actually participated like the ICC, the CWO and the Battaglia Comunista (PCInt) together formed the IBRP.
The ICC always struck me as too centered around the personality of Marc Chirik. This affected the ICC from its original incarnation as the Gauche Comuniste de France. Trotsky in his polemics against Italian left communists refers to them once or twice as Prometeoists.
The IBRP never took a stand against the uprising of the workers of Kronstadt, never in any of its publications, quite the opposite.
During the twenty years of fascism in Italy Bordiga was under house arrest in Naples for most of it so after the war drew to a close he came out of retirement but never actually joined the newly formed PCInt. The story I was told was that they sent a boat to take him from Naples to the meeting place but he refused to go. Later he wrote for Battaglia Comunista and Prometeo until he went off to form his own party the International Communist Party. The ICPs were the "Bordigist" parties, they fragmented into microparties.

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Dec 4 2006 16:56

Hello, Blackhawk, welcome. What is your background? Are you with the IBRP in the US?

Just a few comments on your post:

"The ICC always struck me as too centered around the personality of Marc Chirik. This affected the ICC from its original incarnation as the Gauche Comuniste de France. Trotsky in his polemics against Italian left communists refers to them once or twice as Prometeoists".

What's your basis for saying we were "too centred around the personality of Marc Chirik"? Obviously Marc played a key, irreplaceable role in the formation of the ICC. But he always stressed the necessity for the organisation to grow up and take charge of its own functioning on the basis of principles, not personalities. The legacy of that is precisely the fact that the ICC has continued despite Marc's death, which wasn't the case, for example, with the FOR after the death of Munis.

On a couple of points of detail: Trotsky referred to Bilan and the Italian left fraction as the Prometeoists - in other words, to the Italian left before the war, prior to the split between the Gauche Communiste de France and the Internationalist Communist Party of Italy. Both the ICC and (perhaps to a lesser extent) the IBRP claim descent from Bilan.

"The IBRP never took a stand against the uprising of the workers of Kronstadt, never in any of its publications, quite the opposite".

The problem is that they have published an article which is ambiguous on this point, as we tried to show in an earlier post. It is however possible that they would phrase it differently now, because they seem to be clearer on the idea that the party should not try to take or hold on to state power.

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Dec 4 2006 18:40

Birefly: there is a website for FOR - is there a rump group still in existence?

http://www.new-ton.com/for-munis/

I'll post more in this topic later.

Blackhawk
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Dec 5 2006 01:59

Sorry Alf, I am a militant of the IBRP with the GIO/IWG and have been so for a number of years. I should've said that from the start.

I said that the ICC as it was formed was too centered around the personality of this one revolutionary. Take a look at the ICC's history, their predecessor the GCF, in response to the outbreak of the Korean War, decided to pack up and move to Venezuela and cease their political activity as the Korean War heralded to them the final failure of the proletariat and eventual nuclear destruction. Only later in the sixties they restarted their militant activity and publication, 1966 I think it was. Anyway, I think this twist in their development was unfortunate and largely the result of MCs own stances.

The last article on Kronstadt, published in Internationalist Communist, 1921 Beginning of the Counterrevolution, wasn't all that vague I don't think. Though the IBRP organs hadn't written anything specifically about Kronstadt for some time as far as I know. All in all I think the article pretty clear on the nature of Kronstadt and its historical context.