Open Letter from the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) to the Members of the Liaison Committee of Communists, July 2015, www.thecommunists.net
Dear comrades of the LCC,
We send you this letter because we think that your latest polemic reflects a dangerous degeneration of the LCC as a sect in the Marxist sense. (1) By sect we don’t accuse the LCC of its smallness. What we rather mean is its political-theoretical degeneration into ultra-left abstract propagandism, a political inability to find an orientation in the ongoing hot spots of the international class struggles and its complacency with its long-standing, organic inability to recruit workers and youth engaged in mass struggles.
If you make a balance sheet of the past years the LCC has failed in the whole period to attract militant workers and youth in mass struggles. The LCC has failed to win activists both in the three countries where it has groups nor did it succeed in building groups in new countries. And, comrades, we are not living in “dog days” (like the early 1990s after the collapse of the USSR) but a period which saw the Arab Revolution as well as numerous mass movements against corporate power and lack of democracy.
Related to this the LCC has not even managed to overcome its federalist existence as a loose alliance without a joint international program and a joint international democratic centralism.
This organizational stagnation has gone hand in hand with a political regression. We came in close contact with you in 2011 when we recognized that you arrived independently from us to similar analysis and conclusions concerning the emergence of China and Russia as imperialist powers. Likewise we strongly appreciated that you took a similar stand like us on the Arab Revolution in 2011 and 2012 as well as the August Uprising in Britain in 2011. For these reasons we approached you at that time and proposed to open a period of intensive programmatic debate and collaboration with the view to test if the basis for a fusion between our organizations exists. (2)
Much to our regret we had to recognize that the LCC leadership not only rejected our proposal but it also started looking for political justifications to do so. As a result instead of overcoming their errors of the past (e.g. federalism instead of international democratic centralism, ignorance on the democratic question as the CWG(NZ) demonstrated already in Russia in August 1991 and the Bosnian Liberation War in 1992-95), the LCC leadership again stumbled into ultra-left Neo-Bordegism. (Bordegism is a political tendency, which was founded by Amadeu Bordiga, an Italian revolutionary who drifted towards ultra-leftism. He called himself “anti-democratic”, rejected the united front tactic and refused to defend democratic rights. He was tolerated by Italian fascism to continue an apolitical live during the dictatorship.)
Although we disagree with the positions of the leadership of the LCC concerning the Yanayev coup in August 1991 and the civil wars in former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, we think that serious revolutionaries should put the priority on finding common position on the most important tasks of today and the associated programmatic lessons. This seems to us much more important than having agreement on class struggle events from many years back. This was also the understanding of Lenin and Trotsky when they fused their forces in the summer of 1917.
The wrong understanding of the Marxist method was demonstrated most clearly by the LCC’s failure to recognize the military coup d’état in Egypt on 3 July 2013 as a counter-revolutionary defeat. (3) Quite the opposite the LCC leaders even saw the coup as an “advance of the revolution”. Your leaders were so blind that they even denied to existence of a defeat! Like the ultra-left Stalinists after Hitler’s conquest of power in 1933, the LCC leaders fantasized: “We think that by this you actually mean that the ‘coup’ is a defeat for the revolution in Egypt and because of Egypt’s importance in MENA, a setback for the Arab revolution. This is where our major difference lies. We avoided using the term ‘coup’ to describe the army seizure of power (…) we see the apparent ‘coup’ as only one aspect of the advance of that revolution in Egypt and MENA. (…) You are in effect saying that the movement is in retreat so that the fight for a RCA (Revolutionary Constituent Assembly, Ed.) is the main task of the revolution today. This is the essence of our differences in Egypt. Does the balance of class forces advance of revolution over counter-revolution or not?”” (4)
The LCC leaders repeated the same ultra-left nonsense in the event of the military coup d’état in Thailand in May 2014. (5) It is human to make mistakes and errors. Revolutionaries are also just human beings, but it is necessary to learn from your own mistakes and not to change the reality so your mistakes fit into it. Such an approach is the only way that enables avoiding political and practical degeneration. We are afraid that the leadership of the LCC doesn’t have such a serious approach.
In their latest polemic against the RCIT the LCC leaders theorize their ultra-left Bordegist positions on a more general level. They ask us rhetorically: “Is the RCIT saying that such ‘pseudo-democratic’ concessions would obligate revolutionaries to “defend bourgeois democracy” in the Weimar Republic against the fascists?” And they state categorically: “We would not have supported such a ‘workers’ government’ against fascism in Germany.”
This is simply a farewell of the LCC leaders to basic principles of Leninism and Trotskyism! Marxists always took the position that they had to defend the rotten bourgeois democracy as well as a workers government (including a reformist one) against fascism. Why? Because bourgeois democracy – despite the fact that in essence it represents like fascism a dictatorship of the capitalist class – provides better conditions for the working class to organize the struggle for a socialist future. The LCC leaders obviously openly reject this position. This underlines how big the gap between them and authentic Marxists has become.
The RCIT stands on this issue proudly in the tradition of Lenin and Trotsky. Trotsky explained well to the ultra-left Stalinists for whom bourgeois democracy and fascism was just the same:
“There are no “class distinctions” between democracy and fascism. Obviously this must mean that democracy as well as fascism is bourgeois in character. We guessed as much even prior to January 1932. The ruling class, however, does not inhabit a vacuum. It stands in definite relations to other classes. In a developed capitalist society, during a ‘democratic regime’, the bourgeoisie leans for support primarily upon the working classes, which are held in check by the reformists. In its most finished form, this system finds its expression in Britain during the administration of the Labour government as well as during that of the Conservatives. In a fascist regime, at least during its first phase, capital leans on the petty bourgeoisie, which destroys the organizations of the proletariat. Italy, for instance! Is there a difference in the “class content” of these two regimes? If the question is posed only as regards the ruling class, then there is no difference. If one takes into account the position and the interrelations of all classes, from the angle of the proletariat, then the difference appears to be quite enormous.
In the course of many decades, the workers have built up within the bourgeois democracy, by utilizing it, by fighting against it, their own strongholds and bases of proletarian democracy: the trade unions, the political parties, the educational and sport clubs, the cooperatives, etc. The proletariat cannot attain power within the formal limits of bourgeois democracy, but can do so only by taking the road of revolution: this has been proved both by theory and experience. And these bulwarks of workers’ democracy within the bourgeois state are absolutely essential for taking the revolutionary road. The work of the Second International consisted in creating just such bulwarks during the epoch when it was still fulfilling its progressive historic labor.
Fascism has for its basic and only task the razing to their foundations of all institutions of proletarian democracy. Has this any “class meaning” for the proletariat, or hasn’t it? The lofty theoreticians had better ponder over this. After pronouncing the regime to be bourgeois – which no one questions Hirsch, together with his masters, overlooks a mere trifle: the position of the proletariat in this regime. In place of the historical process they substitute a bald sociological abstraction. But the class war takes place on the soil of history, and not in the stratosphere of sociology. The point of departure in the struggle against fascism is not the abstraction of the democratic state, but the living organizations of the proletariat, in which is concentrated all its past experience and which prepare it for the future.” (6)
Discussing the civil war in Spain where a popular front government and fascist coup plotters fought against each other, Trotsky elaborated in 1937:
“Before 1934 we explained to the Stalinists tirelessly that even in the imperialist epoch democracy continued to be preferable to fascism; that is, in all cases where hostile clashes take place between them, the revolutionary proletariat is obliged to support democracy against fascism. However, we always added: We can and must defend bourgeois democracy not by bourgeois democratic means but by the methods of class struggle, which in turn pave the way for the replacement of bourgeois democracy by the dictatorship of the proletariat. This means in particular that in the process of defending bourgeois democracy, even with arms in hand, the party of the proletariat takes no responsibility for bourgeois democracy, does not enter its government, but maintains full freedom of criticism and of action in relation to all parties of the Popular Front, thus preparing the overthrow of bourgeois democracy at the next stage.” (7)
Comrades of the LCC, we do not believe that you share the rejection of the Trotskyist position of the defense of bourgeois democracy against fascism by the LCC leadership! We ask you to break with such a dangerous approach, which can only disorientate socialist workers and youth!
We can imagine that the LCC leaders sitting in New Zealand and the US West coast can afford to ignore the “little” difference between bourgeois democracy and fascism. In fact these countries have bourgeois democracy since more than 150 years! But our comrades in Brazil, Pakistan, in Tunisia or in Yemen as well as all socialists who are living in countries with actual or recent experience with dictatorships can tell them that there is a very important difference between bourgeois democracy and fascism. Only people who have no connection to the reality of class struggle can ignore this difference and refuse to defend bourgeois democracy against fascism! Imagine that revolutionaries in the early 1970s in Chile would have shared the viewpoint of the leadership of the LCC! They would have isolated themselves from the fighting masses who had huge illusions in the popular front. And after the coup they would have experienced on their own bodies that there is a major difference between the rule of a weak bourgeois government under the pressure of the masses and a strong military dictatorship, which is able to launch death squadrons. Or comrades from Zimbabwe, do you really believe that there was no difference between the rule of the popular front of Mugabe and the open dictatorship of the white settlers and imperialism? Or do you believe that the rule of the popular front in Brazil does not represent any achieves which were achieved via the struggle of the masses in comparison with the “anos de chumbo” (as the most violent years of the military dictatorship are called).
Comrades, this latest political tumble of the LCC leaders reflects that the deepening of the LCC’s existence as a sect without any activity amongst fighting masses enhances the group’s political degeneration.
But this course is neither necessary nor unavoidable. The RCIT has proven by its practice in the past years that international democratic centralism is highly advantageous to build revolutionary organizations. It helped us to combine a high level of Marxist propaganda (as you might know we produce an international monthly journal as well as theoretical books) with regular activity in the class struggle. Revolutionary propaganda and exemplary mass work complement each other and as a result the RCIT was able to win militants both to its already existing sections as well as in new countries. We are fully aware that we are still a small organization and we see no reason to be self-satisfied. But we have proven that international democratic centralism, theoretical advances, regular propaganda and exemplary mass work are not only possible in the present political period but also highly advantageous for growth and the building of pre-party revolutionary organizations.
Comrades of the LCC, our doors are always open to every honest worker and revolutionary. We ask you to break with the rotten methods of your leaders and enter into serious discussions with the RCIT in order to find a common approach in building a strong international Bolshevik organization! Let us find together a way to go forward in class struggle. We must not forget that as communists do not have a lot of time for this task since the forces of the reaction are becoming stronger, the class struggle is intensifying and the need for a revolutionary leadership becomes urgently important. Every minute that goes by without the strengthening of the revolutionary forces will cost lives now or in the future! The pre-revolutionary crisis in Greece is a very current example! The revolutionary and counter-revolutionary developments in the Arab world are other, highly relevant examples. And let us not forget that the next deep crisis of capitalism is not long ahead of us. Every honest revolutionary understands the urgency of the task of building the party now and not at some point in the distant future. We have no interest in building a discussion club – we need to build an international revolutionary combat organization NOW. We ask you to take this as serious as we do it. This is the only healthy road forward out of the morass of federalism in international party building and ultra-left Neo-Bordegism in the field of politics.
International Secretariat of the RCIT
(1) LCC: Reply to RCIT on Permanent Revolution, Bourgeois Democracy and Social Imperialism, 13 June 2015, http://redrave.blogspot.co.nz/2015/06/reply-to-rcit-on-permanent-revolution.html
(2) See on this the RCIT’s letters: Letter on Liaison Committee proposal, 10.10.2011; For an international Bolshevik organization! The London Bureau type concept of a federation of national groups is no way forward! Letter to CWG(A/NZ), 28.7.2012.
(3) For the RCIT’s analysis, tactics and practical solidarity work see:
RKOB: Egypt: Hundreds Rally in Vienna to Protest the Death Sentences against Former President Morsi and Other Political Prisoners. Report (with Photos and Videos) from a Rally in Vienna in Solidarity with the Resistance in Egypt on 22 May 2015, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/austria-egypt-rally-22-5-2015/
RCIT: Egypt: Military Dictatorship Sentences Former President Morsi to Death! Down with the Butcher General al-Sisi! For a Revolutionary Constitutional Assembly! 17.5.2015, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/egypt-morsi-death-sentence/
RKOB: Egypt: Down with the Military Dictatorship of al-Sisi! Report (with Photos and Videos) from a Rally in Solidarity with the Resistance in Egypt on 01.03.2015, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/report-egypt-demo-1-3-2015/
Nina Gunić: Military Dictatorship in Egypt: Report (with Photos & Video) on the Solidarity Demonstration on 25.1.2015 in Vienna, 29.01.2015, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/report-egypt-demo-25-1-2015/
RCIT: General Sisi – The Butcher of the Egyptian People – Sentences another 683 People to Death, 1.5.2014, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/egypt-mass-death-sentences/
RKOB: Egypt: Report with Videos from Demonstration in Austria against the Military Dictatorship on 20 April, 22.4.2014, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/egypt-solidarity-demo-in-austria-20-4-2014/
RCIT: Egypt: Mobilize International Solidarity against General Sisi’s Machinery of Repression! 28.3.2014, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/stop-repression-in-egypt/
RKOB: Austria: Solidarity with the Resistance against the Military Dictatorship in Egypt! Report (with photos and video clips) of a rally on 25January to commemorate the third anniversary of the revolution in Egypt, 26.1.2014, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/solidarity-rally-for-egypt/
RCIT: Egypt: Down with General Sisi’s pro-Army Constitution! Boycott the Referendum!, 12.1.2014, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/boycott-egypt-referendum/
RCIT: Tasks of the Revolution in Egypt, July 2, 2013, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/tasks-of-egypt-revolution/
RCIT: Egypt: Down with the Military Coup d’État! Prepare Mass Resistance! July 8, 2013, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/egypt-down-with-military-coup-d-etat/
Yossi Schwartz: Egypt: The U.S. Support for the Military Coup and the Left’s ignorance Notes on the role of US imperialism in the military’s coup d'état and the failure of the Egypt left, July 11, 2013, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/egypt-us-support-for-military-coup/
Michael Pröbsting: The Military’s Coup d'État in Egypt: Assessment and Tactics. A reply to the criticism of the WIVP and the LCC on the meaning of the Military’s Coup d'État and the slogan of the Revolutionary Constituent Assembly, 17.7.2013, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/egypt-meaning-of-coup-d-etat/
Yossi Schwartz: Egypt: Mobilize Resistance against the reactionary military regime! Down with the army’s puppet-government! No political support for Morsi and the Muslim brotherhood! For independent working class mobilization with a revolutionary perspective! 27.7.2013, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/egypt-no-to-military-regime/
Michael Pröbsting: The Coup d'État in Egypt and the Bankruptcy of the Left’s “Army Socialism”. A Balance Sheet of the coup and another Reply to our Critics (LCC, WIVP, SF/LCFI), 8.8.2013, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/egypt-and-left-army-socialism/
RCIT: Egypt: Appeal for solidarity after steel workers arrested by army, Aug 13, 2013, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/egypt-solidarity-with-steel-workers/
RCIT: Egypt: International Solidarity against the Army Crackdown! August 14, 2013, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/egypt-international-solidarity/
Nina Gunić: Austria: Solidarity Demonstration in Vienna against the military dictatorship in Egypt. Down with Al-Sisi! Long live international solidarity! Report on the demonstration in Vienna against the military dictatorship in Egypt, Aug 18, 2013, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/egypt-solidarity-demo-in-austria/
Yossi Schwartz: Israel and the Coup in Egypt. Israel’s primary concerns regarding Egypt are the possible fall of the military regime or a descent into civil war, Aug 21, 2013, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/israel-and-egypt-coup/
Nina Gunić: Egypt: Solidarity Rally in Austria – Workers and oppressed unite! Down, Down, Down with Sisi! Freedom, Freedom for Egypt! Report from a Rally in Austria in Solidarity with the Resistance in Egypt, Aug 25, 2013, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/egypt-solidarity-rally-in-austria/
(4) Letter from LCC on Military Coup in Egypt, 23.7.2013, http://cwgusa.wordpress.com/2013/07/23/egypt-debate-lcc-respondsto-rcit/
(5) For the RCIT’s analysis and tactics see:
RCIT: Thailand: Smash the Developing Military Coup! No Trust in the pro-Thaksin Pheu Thai PartyLeadership! Mobilize the Working Class and Poor Peasants to Defeat the “Yellow Shirts”, Army Command, and Monarchy! 21.5.2014, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/asia/thailand-coup/
Michael Pröbsting: Thailand: How Should Socialists Fight Against the Military Coup? A Critique of the Statement “Oppose the coup regime!” by several Asian Left Organizations, 27.5.2014, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/asia/thailand-coup-critique/
Michael Pröbsting: Thailand: Shall Socialists Defend the Government Against the Military Coup? Reply to a Neo-Bordigist Polemic of the “Liaison Committee of Communists”, 24.5.2014, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/asia/thailand-coup-reply/
Thailand: Defeat the looming reactionary Coup D’état! Mobilize the Working Class and Poor Peasants as an independent force against the “Yellow Shirts”, Army Command and Monarchy! 4.12.2013, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/asia/thailand-looming-coup-d-%C3%A9tat/
Michael Pröbsting: Thailand: CWI’s Disgraceful Support for the Bosses’ “Yellow Shirts”, RCIT, 15.1.2014, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/asia/cwi-on-thailand/
(6) Leon Trotsky: What Next? Vital Questions for the German Proletariat (January 1932), http://marxists.org/archive/trotsky/germany/1932-ger/index.htm (Our emphasis)
(7) Leon Trotsky: Is Victory Possible in Spain? (1937), in: Leon Trotsky: The Spanish Revolution (1931-39), Pathfinder Press, New York 1973, p. 257 (Our emphasis)