The Question of Parasitism.

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ernie
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Nov 22 2009 13:23

proletarian class consciousness is the dialectical product of its position in capitalist society and its struggle to overcome that situation. It is the product of its nature as a revolutionary outlaw class in capitalist society. So no it is not idealism.
It organisational forms reflect this and thus the absolutely necessity to constantly struggle against the materialism and ideological weight of capitalism upon it.
One of the roots of opportunism is when revolutionaries organisations stop seeing themselves as being an alien body within capitalism.

Yorkie Bar
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Nov 22 2009 13:50
Quote:
proletarian class consciousness is the dialectical product of its position in capitalist society and its struggle to overcome that situation. It is the product of its nature as a revolutionary outlaw class in capitalist society. So no it is not idealism.

Decent analysis - the proletariat's consciousness is a product of its position in capitalist society.

Shitty analysis - the proletariat's (false) consciousness is a product of (alien) ideologies.

~J.

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Tojiah
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Nov 22 2009 14:16
ernie wrote:
To summaries the ability of bourgeois ideology to penetrate and find organizational expression in a proletarian organisation is the result of weaknesses in that organisation's ability to maintain the constant struggle to maintain a proletarian method of functioning.

I agree. Marxism is one of the clearest examples of this phenomenon, though, isn't it? wink

Spikymike
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Nov 22 2009 14:57

The problem with the ICC is its' arrogance in always assuming that 'it' is the organisation which through a process of 'correction' and 'self-cleansing' remains true to it's revolutionary principles and a sound, healthy organisation and that it is its' internal and external critics which are the sole source of 'alien' influences and thus to be dismissed as 'parasitic' - but why if that were the case does the ICC so regularly produce so many 'parasites' if it were so healthy??

To the extent that ex-ICC factions have persisted in being focussed on the ICC for lengthy periods that may attest to something of worth in the ICC's politics if not its organisational practice. Since many of the ex-ICC factions have been made up of members who previously devoted so much time and energy to that organisation it is not so suprising that they have often felt bitter about the results of their past efforts and have taken time to reorientate.

'Internationalist Perspective' survived to successfully do just that but sadly others gave up the struggle. They must take responsibillity for giving up but the ICC itself should share that responsibillity in my opinion.

The ICC's theory of 'parasiticism' has been constructed primarily as a an ideology of self justification for it's own organisational failures.

We have had this discussion on earlier threads I think and I am not about to repeat it all again but I could unfortunately not let this one go.

Of course the ICC is not the only tiny pro-revolutionary organisation to have its problems but it is one of the worst at dealing with them honestly.

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Alf
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Nov 22 2009 16:52

BLJ: I simply don't understand what you are saying here. If the dominant ideas are the ideas of the ruling class, then the development of class consciousness can only take place through a constant battle against those ideas, against the ruling ideology. Of course the class struggle is based on the material situation of the class, and consciousness emerges out of that struggle, but there is nothing automatic or mechanical in the relationship between material suffering and forward-steps in consciousness. Class consciousness develops unevenly, very often with minorities most clearly expressing the advances being made by the class as a whole. This is why workers groups and circles, discussion groups and revolutionary organisations have always been a necessary part of the class movement.

And in response to Wellclose, this is indeed part of the subterranean maturation of consciousness. The more advanced minorities do not bring consciousness from the outside, but are produced by a deeper and more widespread process within the class. You may find the idea "comical", but it's certainly not the ICC's invention.
"In a revolution we look first of all at the direct interference of the masses in the destinies of society. We seek to uncover behind the events changes in the collective consciousness...This can seem puzzling only to one who looks upon the insurrectioin of the masse as 'spontaneous' - that is, as a herd-mutiny artifically made use of by leaders. In reality, the mere existence of privations is not enough to cause an insurrection; if it were, the masses would always be in revolt. The immediate causes of the events of a revolution are changes in the state of mind of the conflicting classes...Changes in the collective consciousness have naturally a semi-concealed character. Only when they have attained a certain degree of intensity do the new moods and ideas break to the surface in the form of mass activities" (Trotsky, History of the Russian revolution)

Yorkie Bar
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Nov 22 2009 17:10
Quote:
BLJ: I simply don't understand what you are saying here. If the dominant ideas are the ideas of the ruling class, then the development of class consciousness can only take place through a constant battle against those ideas, against the ruling ideology. Of course the class struggle is based on the material situation of the class, and consciousness emerges out of that struggle, but there is nothing automatic or mechanical in the relationship between material suffering [sic] and forward-steps in consciousness. Class consciousness develops unevenly, very often with minorities most clearly expressing the advances being made by the class as a whole. This is why workers groups and circles, discussion groups and revolutionary organisations have always been a necessary part of the class movement.

That isn't the point. The point is it's absurd to externalise serious problems of workers organisation, even of organisation in general, turning them into 'alien influences' of the petit-bourgeoisie et al. This is an idealist position as it see concrete organisational practices (sectarianism, opportunism and so forth) as being purely the result of ideology.

~J.

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shug
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Nov 22 2009 19:56

It’s depressing reading again the ICC’s statement on parasites. Nobody, aside from the ICC, in the revolutionary movement defends this ‘theory’ of parasitism. A spat between Marx/Engels & Bakunin is used one hundred years later to create a ‘theory’ to belittle and marginalise critique of the ICC’s organisational practice. Lets stop talking about parasitism, and lets talk about how a revolutionary organisation conducts debate and discussion - internally and externally. Vibrant discussion is a sign of health - not a sign of the penetration of petty bourgeois ideology.

posi
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Nov 22 2009 20:26

does the ICC allow open permanent tendencies/fractions and if not why not

(because imho, not doing so will always mean that secret or informal ones exist...)

Andros
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Nov 22 2009 23:13

From what I can glean it seems the ICC's definition of parasitism boils down to individuals or groupings within and without the organization whose principal activity is the slander and denigration of the ICC. As such I think many of us have
seen similar elements of behavior in other spheres of class struggle and revolutionary activity. The danger here is that in attempting to eradicate parasitism there is the possibility of denigrating genuine criticism and debate.
A number of times I've seen groupings begin with a sincere critique of an organization, after much slander and disinformation by the parent body, go from honest analysis to making a career of continual denigration of the main organization. It's for this reason that I believe the ICC s use of the term causes much more damage and confusion than the very groups charged with parasitism themselves, whether "Parasitic" or not.

Yorkie Bar
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Nov 22 2009 23:50

Typing in bold for no reason makes me look cool.

~J.

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Rowntree
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Nov 23 2009 17:23

Yes, lets agree to get rid of the bold print.

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waslax
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Nov 23 2009 01:42
shug wrote:
It’s depressing reading again the ICC’s statement on parasites. Nobody, aside from the ICC, in the revolutionary movement defends this ‘theory’ of parasitism. A spat between Marx/Engels & Bakunin is used one hundred years later to create a ‘theory’ to belittle and marginalise critique of the ICC’s organisational practice. Lets stop talking about parasitism, and lets talk about how a revolutionary organisation conducts debate and discussion - internally and externally. Vibrant discussion is a sign of health - not a sign of the penetration of petty bourgeois ideology.

I am in complete agreement with this. The ICC uses the myth of 'parasitism' in order to justify practicing its own form of sectarianism (externally) and monolithism (internally). It is a very convenient myth for them.

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Red Marriott
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Nov 23 2009 01:42
ICC wrote:
"At its April 95 11th International Congress, the ICC had to take the grave decision to exclude one of its militants, the ex-comrade JJ, for his destructive behaviour incompatible with belonging to a communist organisation, notably the constitution within the ICC of a secret network of adepts of Masonic ideology." [...]

... JJ’s secret propaganda for Masonic ideology (in particular among comrades who had recently been integrated into the ICC) was first discovered, in autumn 1994,...
http://en.internationalism.org/icconline/jury_of_honour_02

Why were Freemasons trying to infiltrate the ICC? Or, alternatively, why were ICC members turning into Freemasons? confused

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Alf
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Nov 23 2009 10:09

I don't think that the conflict between Marx and Bakunin can be reduced to a 'spat'., nor did the fact that it took place well over a hundred years ago mean that we can't learn anything from it. You could argue the same about the Russian revolution (and the 'spat' between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks...). Marx and Engels certainly took it very seriously and invested considerable energy into investigating the destructive behaviour of Bakunin's secret alliance. And this is the key question, regardless of whether or not we include it under the heading of parasitism. Vibrant debate is of course a sign of health - who would dispute that?. But the workers' movement, and not just the ICC, is full of examples of forms of behaviour that have run counter to the basic principles of proletarian organisation. Often these have been the work of adventurers, individuals who use the workers' movement to advance their personal prestige or pet projects in one way or another - the examples of Hyndman in Britain and Lassalle in Germany come to mind. The Bakunin case is particularly relevant because Bakunin sought to give an organisational form to his intrigues, so the issue went beyond that of his individual character. These are 'old' examples, but the ICC is certainly not alone in having had unfortunate experiences with individuals who, even when they profess agreement with communist positions, actually have a very different agenda. There must be many such examples in the anarchist movement. The difference is that the ICC tries to put these experiences in a historical framework in order to take the issue away from personalisation and to draw general lessons about how proletarian organisations should function. With or without the concept of parasitism, 'behaviour' -proletarian ethics if you like - is a key question which cannot simply be reduced to one of political positions. In fact the issue has been posed many times on libcom itself - for example in the whole discussion on 'flaming', in attitudes to security issues and so on.

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Nov 23 2009 13:53
Alf wrote:
the ICC tries to put these experiences in a historical framework

So can you do this about the Freemasons? The article doesn't explain the motives.

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Nov 23 2009 15:52
Ret Marut wrote:
ICC wrote:
"At its April 95 11th International Congress, the ICC had to take the grave decision to exclude one of its militants, the ex-comrade JJ, for his destructive behaviour incompatible with belonging to a communist organisation, notably the constitution within the ICC of a secret network of adepts of Masonic ideology." [...]

... JJ’s secret propaganda for Masonic ideology (in particular among comrades who had recently been integrated into the ICC) was first discovered, in autumn 1994,...
http://en.internationalism.org/icconline/jury_of_honour_02

Why were Freemasons trying to infiltrate the ICC? Or, alternatively, why were ICC members turning into Freemasons? confused

I hope platformists start doing "social insertion/non-authoritarian entryism" into Freemasonry. It'll be amazing.

Anyway, I don't have much of a stake in this debate, but this text is interesting.

nastyned
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Nov 23 2009 18:09
Ret Marut wrote:
Alf wrote:
the ICC tries to put these experiences in a historical framework

So can you do this about the Freemasons? The article doesn't explain the motives.

The ICC stuff on 'the struggle of Marxism against freemasonry' is nearly as entertaining as their stuff on parasitism.

ernie
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Nov 23 2009 21:32

When we explain our problems in our press it is order that they can be discussed and learnt from, because we know we are not the only groups to be faced by such problems. As I said above if you read our analysis it is not a question is simply finger pointing at individuals but of trying to understand what has gone wrong in the organisation that has allowed comrades to become caught up in such behaviours.
Was lax:

Quote:
The ICC uses the myth of 'parasitism' in order to justify practicing its own form of sectarianism (externally) and monolithism (internally). It is a very convenient myth for them.

Please explain what you mean. Examples would help, otherwise it is simply throwing words about

ernie
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Nov 23 2009 21:29

On Freemasonary, the French CP in the early 1920's found that some members of the party where in the freemasons.

Yorkie Bar
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Nov 23 2009 22:24
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'the struggle of Marxism against freemasonry'

You can't be serious...

nastyned
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Nov 23 2009 23:06
BigLittleJ wrote:
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'the struggle of Marxism against freemasonry'

You can't be serious...

This is the ICC we're talking about here! Mad as a box of frogs, I'm telling you.

Yorkie Bar
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Nov 23 2009 23:07

The notion of freemasonry as something you could seriously 'struggle' against is just laughable.

~J.

Leo
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Nov 23 2009 23:26

There must be hundreds of comments like these on libcom, laughing at, mocking, making fun of, calling names at the ICC, giving links to other obsessive "criticisms" of the organization written by professional ICC-bashers, laughing more, mocking more, calling more names afterwards.

As the saying goes, the dogs bark, but the caravan goes on.

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Red Marriott
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Nov 23 2009 23:33
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As the saying goes, the dogs bark, but the caravan goes on.

Is that some kind of Masonic code?

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Tojiah
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Nov 24 2009 00:01
Ret Marut wrote:
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As the saying goes, the dogs bark, but the caravan goes on.

Is that some kind of Masonic code?

I always thought that that was a Jewish phrase. It's very common in Hebrew for casually dismissing criticism.

Yorkie Bar
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Nov 24 2009 00:29
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the dogs bark, but the caravan goes on.

EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS OF THE ICC GHQ!

~J.

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Red Marriott
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Nov 24 2009 00:58
ernie wrote:
On Freemasonary, the French CP in the early 1920's found that some members of the party where in the freemasons.

The relationship between Freemasonry and communists goes back much further than that - but I'm doubtful it continued into modern times with attempted infiltration of the ICC - is 'Freemasonry' actually being used by the ICC as a metaphor for some theoretical deviation rather than literally? Why would Masons be interested in the ICC in the 1990s?
http://libcom.org/library/freemasonry-its-historic-role
http://libcom.org/library/secret-societies-and-first-international-boris-i-nicolaevsky

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waslax
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Nov 24 2009 08:54
ernie wrote:
Was lax:
Quote:
The ICC uses the myth of 'parasitism' in order to justify practicing its own form of sectarianism (externally) and monolithism (internally). It is a very convenient myth for them.

Please explain what you mean. Examples would help, otherwise it is simply throwing words about

I have no interest at all in engaging with ICC members or supporters on this issue (pseudo-issue), since it gives them too much credit given this ludicrous 'theory' they defend. It really does deserve to be mocked and ridiculed. I simply cannot understand how any pro-revolutionary can honestly tolerate their organization defending and propagating this crap. Unfortunately, it makes others (groups, individuals) in the same milieu look bad (crazy) as well, no matter how much they may try to distance themsleves from it.

I think most people (outside of the ICC) following this thread who are also familiar with the ICC and their practice know exactly what I mean in the quote above. In any case, to humour Ernie, I will give examples of how the theory has justified sectarianism to other groups outside of the ICC. Those would be how the ICC has related to the two left communist organizations which split from the ICC in the '80s (not that there may not have been others): the Communist Bulletin Group and Internationalist Perspective. Since I have never been on the inside of the ICC, I am unable to give specific examples of the theory's use to justify monolithism internally, and perhaps it has never been explicitly employed in this way, since the ICC usually seems to find other pretexts (accusations of 'freemasonry' or 'clanism', of holding secret tendency meetings, etc.) for either suppressing internal tendencies or excluding members, but I think the 'theory' of 'parasitism' is part and parcel of the same paranoid, conspiratorial, delusional perspective.

Yorkie Bar
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Nov 24 2009 12:11
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Why would Masons be interested in the ICC in the 1990s?

The ICC - definitely not a cult. wink

~J.

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Nov 24 2009 14:21
Leo wrote:
There must be hundreds of comments like these on libcom, laughing at, mocking, making fun of, calling names at the ICC, giving links to other obsessive "criticisms" of the organization written by professional ICC-bashers, laughing more, mocking more, calling more names afterwards.

As the saying goes, the dogs bark, but the caravan goes on.

Funny you should say that...

Ex-ICC member wrote:
Let’s use the allegory I used in my last letter. It isn’t brilliant but it is very revealing when applied to the ICC.

"A stark naked man is running wildly down the street. In each hand he carries a kitchen knife. As he runs he is cursing everyone he sees while simultaneously slashing at his own body with the knives. Some cuts are but shallow flesh wounds but the further down the street he gets the deeper the slashes get, drawing more and more blood.

At first passers-by merely avoid him, just another crazy guy on the street. But some recognise him. Some realise he is a former acquaintance. Some recognise him as a relative. The shout at him, remonstrate with him, try to persuade him to stop hurting himself His response is to shout at them, to cut them too with his knives, raving all the time that they are his enemies.

In self defence, and with compassion in their hearts at this clearly demented, mentally disturbed person, they attempt to prevent him injuring himself and them. This is immediately denounced by the lunatic as a conspiracy against him. How else, he raves, can one explain the convergence of what he believes to be the unwarranted attacks on his sacred person. That their actions are triggered by his insane behaviour just doesn’t occur to him.

And why should it? For, demented as he is, he is sublimely unaware that he is deranged. To him, his ravings are perfectly sensible, the slashes merely necessary surgery to remove alien growths on his body, the evil daemons who inhabit his body. The passers by must be tools of the government, or alien beings conspiring against him. And as such they must be destroyed!
...
It is, of course, true that many individuals and groups saying similar things about the ICC. This isn’t some sinister conspiracy. The naked man is performing self mutilation in front of us. No wonder so many disparate people are talking about him, writing about him and drawing attention to the crazed creature! WR tells us "it is difficult to see the convergence of all the attacks on our organisation as a mere coincidence."

Of course it isn’t a coincidence, you imbeciles! There is indeed a mysterious power behind this "coincidence". It is the ICC itself who, by acting so bizarrely, has prompted the most disparate of people to comment on their nakedness! It is the ICC who is responsible for the "coincidence"! And, like the naked man, you are the only people who can’t see it!

Not my words. I wouldn't call you imbeciles myself, but I do think Occam's razor suggests that there is often a reason why so many people say the same things.