Paris, France - 1980s. Translated from; Correspondence avec FOCUS (L'Insecurite Sociale, serie 2, No 3)
L'Insécurité Sociale was formed in 1981 by some former members of the group Pour Une Intervention Communiste which had broken up that year. It existed for several years producing an irregular journal of the same name and a number of pamphlets and leaflets. Between 1988 and 1991 some of the same people produced a journal "Interrogations pour une communauté humaine" and after that a publication called "Le point d'interrogation".
If it is evident that communism can only be realized through a social revolution, we have come to mistrust the label "revolutionaries". It would appear, in effect, that those who qualify themselves by this term often place themselves in a position of moral superiority compared to other people, its use permitting them to justify their existence by creating a separation, a distance. Not only Bolshevik organizations have adopted this kind of behaviour. It is also to be found amongst individuals who critique the thesis that consciousness comes to the working-class from the exterior, and tends to support the myth of the role of revolutionaries.
We are not actors playing roles on the stage of history, who are "revolutionaries" by self-proclamation... There exists neither an organisational question as such, nor (historical!) "tasks" for "revolutionaries" to carry out. There exists a constant tendency towards communism in humanity. This aspiration is expressed in utopias which represent a world in which humanity could be realized, as well as in resistances and struggles of the oppressed against their situation. When revolt translates into active involvement in individuals, it takes the form of positions: the necessity of action and reflection which is as collective and clear as possible. This leads to the organization of diverse fractions and minorities which arise as partial expressions of the real movement, attempt to critique its impasses, and are active in its midst. Not because these minorities have - "by decree" - a role to play there, or ideas to bring from outside, but because on the contrary they are an integral part.
Becoming conscious with respect to the world around us, or with respect to our own aspirations, does not in itself imply globality of homogeneity[convergence of viewpoints?]. The minorities are products, amongst others, of a complex process of consciousness-raising, not the spokespersons of the movement towards communism, or those who incarnate the content and goals of the movement. If those who compose these minorities are "different", it is in the first place because they are in the minority, which is not a fault in itself, but an expression of the state of the movement. If the separation between people is felt by everyone, it is perceived at different levels, and results in diverse refusals. What fundamentally brings us together is a comprehension of our state of existence, of what we have in common. From this point begins a need to fight against capital, against separation, and therefore a practical need to associate. And hence, associations, not of contemplators of the misery fleeing profounder reflection, but associations which are at the same time coherent and contradictory, resembling the movement that gave birth to them. They express a tendency to negate this world which, if permanent, is incomplete. The "minimum" activities of such associations would be to "publicize the misery", to reveal what the exploited have in common, and to propose their own vision of the future of the movement at the same time. But with no illusion: if we weren't there (for now at least)... who would know the difference?
In the context of associations such as those we have just defined, it is necessary to respect both the unity, the cohesion of the communal decisions, and the autonomy of the individuals who are implicated. This leads us to reject both centralism and federalism, as organizational methods which favour none of these conditions, but encourage bureaucracy instead. So-called democratic centralism is simply the submission of the base to the center. The minority finds itself paralyzed by the rigidity of the process. What is, and always has been inherent in this area, in the organizations which espouse it, is the separation between different organizational levels, mimicing the capitalist division of labour, and more generally, the separation between people developed by capital. So-called organic centralism pushes this atomization to the extreme. This process encourages a situation of get-by-as-best-you-can, and leads at worst to sacrileges against the intangible principles, because only a minority - or only one person - know what the program will consist of, and what is inappropriate. Centralism, in the organizations which practice it, in a more general sense, is always an obstacle to internal clarifications, and is used to force anything down the militants' throats. In this sense it is intimately related to more general conceptions of the "Party" form. Political parties, whether they openly aspire to take power, or limit themselves to a leadership role as proletarian vanguards, are expressions of the production and reproduction of politics: the separation of people into leaders and followers, masters and subjects of power. They express the state, which has never been and never can be other than an instrument of domination by exploiters.
Whereas the left and extreme left consider "the Party" as a means to take power and consolidate capitalism on the workers' backs, a fraction of what is known as the "ultra-left" claims that its presence is necessary for the workers to "take power". But if we are to accept their own logic, it would naturally follow that if the party is the political expression of the proletariat whose major function is to exercise its own dictatorship - then the dictatorship of the proletariat(1) can therefore only logically be exercised by the party. This discourse attempts to conceal that a political party is necessarily an organism which contributes to the perpetuation of a society into exploiters and exploited, whether it calls itself a "revolutionary party" or not.
Federalism, which is espoused by anarchists and "ultra-leftists", leads in its own fashion to a method of functioning which is in no way enviable to that of the hyper-centralists. As opposed to the openly-declared leaderships of the centralists, corresponding hidden leaderships that are swarming with careerists appear. In conclusion, centralism and federalism represent two methods of functioning which are in contradiction with the aspirations of an organization situating itself in a communist perspective. Not only do they reproduce the divisions in society, but they are ultimately nothing more than perspectives which attempt to avoid the problems created by the associations. Often they only serve to hide that whereas the theoretical and practical cohesion present when an organization was formed no longer exist, the organization attempts to survive at any price, whatever occurs.
(1) Our critique of the dictatorship of the party hidden behind the dictatorship of the proletariat does not signify that we defend a "true" dictatorship of the proletariat. The destruction of capitalism in all its aspects can no longer be conceived as the affirmation of a class, but as the self-negation of the working-class.