Situation in the USA - The Way Forward for the IBRP

IBRP Introduction

In the previous issue we reported on the first meeting of the IBRP with its supporters in North America. It was decided then that the geographically disparate US comrades would work together to make Internationalist Notes (then published in Wisconsin) a regular publication of all IBRP supporters in the US. This task, of course, was more than a practical one of overcoming physical distance but above all a political task of unification and consolidation: both within the group of supporters in Los Angeles [which had no formal organisational frame] and between them and Internationalist Notes. In the event the attempt to work together has led to differences. The political reason for this is more and more being revealed as the LA comrades' reluctance to accept the Bureau's perspective on the situation facing political minorities and how to go about building the nucleus of a revolutionary political organisation. The two-part text below, written by the minority, indicates the issues at stake. We are publishing it since the Bureau expects and anticipates such debates as it grows (see article on the future international party in this issue) and because it is a clear exposition of the political groundwork that is required in the US today. A brief reply to part of it can be found in IN Vol.3 #2 but unless and until political elements can work together on the framework here then we cannot speak of revolutionary political organisation in the US. As it is, Internationalist Notes is now being produced in Los Angeles. However, this situation of nominal supporters of the IBRP who do not accept its basic raison d'etre cannot remain for ever. It is now up to the comrades of LA to clarify where they stand and either resolve whatever differences they have with the Bureau or find the political principles on which they wish to operate independently.

Debate among IBRP Sympathizers in the US

Presently we are at a moment in US history when the veil is being torn off the apparatus of power. Most major US cities are one police murder away from a major civil disturbance. On the other hand we see a movement that is loosely termed "anti-capitalist" that has remained remarkably persistent since the riots in Seattle. There is an upswing in petty-bourgeois activism. Coupled with an attempt by the union bosses to retain some shred of credibility for the unions as protectors of the working class. The elements of this camp have seen the divisions between their perspectives grow ever greater. The speculative financial bubble, the "Greenspan bubble", that kept the US economy expanding has ceased its expansion. The working class in the US sits at the end of an economic boom that was only an economic boom for the bourgeoisie. Workers are now faced with the costs of this expansion. The restructuring of the working class has meant the elimination of variable capital on a massive scale. Huge segments of the working class are rendered redundant or precarious in relation to capitalist production. Worse still, this capitalist offensive has met with little or no resistance on the part of working class. What was once considered to be the "proletarian political camp" today no longer exists. In this environment faced with new difficulties and challenges Internationalist Communists must redouble their efforts at organizational centralization and political homogenization.

Even in the US we can clearly see the bankruptcy of the capitalist system, how the bourgeoisie strangles all potential social advances for the sake of profit, in the realms of medicine, energy production and computer technology. We see that in the name of democracy and free enterprise that there is no longer clean ground water anywhere in the lower forty-eight states. Also evident, as shown in the procession of vaguely "anti-capitalist" protests that it is the working class that holds the real key to the overthrow of capital. No amorphous classless protest "movement" is going to do what must be done. Without a revolutionary party the bourgeoisie will never be overthrown. The first step towards this party is to work towards the formation of a nucleus of this future party. It is the working class in the US that plays a crucial role in the revival of class struggle and a return to the revolutionary perspective for the overthrow of capitalism worldwide.

There must be a revolutionary organization because the revolution will not happen spontaneously. We cannot expect workers to come out from under the grip of the dominant ideology without the presence of a revolutionary party rooted in the class. Workers struggles do not appear spontaneously and neither will the party. If the exploitation of the proletariat were all that was needed as a basis for the revolution the capitalists would most likely have been defeated long ago. The ICC and the Councilist groups both rely primarily on the spontaneity of the proletariat starting the revolution alone. All these tendencies can do is wait for an event that will not come. We must work towards pulling together the most conscious layers of the working class into a nucleus of the revolutionary party. This is not the same as simply declaring ourselves to be the revolutionary party as soon as we reach a "required minimum number" of official members. If we are to build a nucleus that can serve as the foundation of a future International Proletarian Party then we must work towards our own self-education and organization.

If we are indeed sympathizers of the IBRP then we are committed to working together towards mutual clarification of our positions. Sympathizing sections of the Bureau are expected to work in direct contact with the Bureau. Despite the different conditions on the political terrain we are expected to work towards organizational homogenization between the Bureau and ourselves. We are then obligated to openly discuss and inform each other and the Bureau of proposed decisions that affect our activity towards this goal. If this process is cast aside without so much as an answer or open reply then it is the genuine commitment to working together as sympathizers of the IBRP that is put in question.

The comrades of Los Angeles Workers' Voice made a decision privately amongst themselves where they changed the rate of publication in Internationalist Notes without open discussion. They also adopted the organizational name of "US Workers' Voice" without open discussion. They discarded the agreement that we made regarding the joint publication of IN. They refused to answer any questions regarding their actions preferring to make accusations and recriminations. We cannot claim to be a sympathizing section of the Bureau if we are not willing to work with the comrades of the Bureau and definitely not if we are not willing to work together as a group. There is a fundamental difference in the operation of a small group of comrades in one location and being a part of a broader organization. If we are to operate with some idea of democratic centralism in mind we must remember that this does not mean total subordination to one will. It also means that a vote cannot just be taken in private without allowing a minority voice to be heard.

The process of how revolutionaries make decisions involves much more than simply taking a vote. The first thing that revolutionaries do is to open a debate and try to reach a consensus through this debate. If all else fails then we make decisions by means of a majority vote. Finally, some conflicts unfortunately arise in a revolutionary organization that can only be resolved in a split. A very small nucleus of revolutionaries should be able to come to some kind of consensus for their activity through open mutual discussion where all parties may have a chance to respond to each other. If, with such small numbers these militants are not able to come to a consensus then they must consider that it must be question of perspective arising out of basic differences in theoretical conceptions.

Questions also arise regarding activity and intervention in the class given the very limited forces we can muster. To be a section of the IBRP we must have some meaningful existence in the working class in our area. In order for our organization to have roots within the working class we must establish an organizational existence, however limited, as a part of the class. As an organization we must concentrate in three basic areas of activity:

  1. Regular formal meetings should be established open to the public where contacts can meet with revolutionary militants.
  2. A regular publication must be produced that represents the organization, it is the publication that most people will see, it is the publication that we will be judged by and readers will notice every mistake and error we make.
  3. Regular and consistent intervention among the most conscious workers wherever possible.

Focusing solely on reaching the masses without working out the basic outline of an approach to how this is to be accomplished is not sufficient. Revolutionaries cannot simply descend on workers with proclamations in hand telling workers what they need to do and then expect that workers will listen. To build roots in the class we must open debate among ourselves and among the political tendencies of the left swamp which workers may be drawn to. Our publications must draw out how the system is wholly bankrupt and how there is no alternative but the overthrow and suppression of the capitalist class. Our propaganda does not simply serve as self-advertisement but also functions and fills a necessary role in our own self-education. Our press helps us clarify our positions and aids the process that leads to the centralization of revolutionaries into this nucleus of a future revolutionary party.

Intervention we can understand to mean intervention wherever we can reach workers that may be attempting to come to a consciousness of the necessity for the overthrow and suppression of the bourgeoisie. This means intervention in the workplace, at protests and elsewhere, whenever possible, wherever class conscious vanguard forces may be found. This does not mean simply handing out leaflets at demonstrations if these leaflets do not leave potential contacts a way of meeting and discussing with us in a formally organized manner such as a public meeting. Nor does it imply that we must tailor our every word to only meet the specific needs of issues confronting workers in one specific location. On the contrary we must bring out that which unites the working class as an entity that exists worldwide. For the revolutionary press this means that we must attempt to balance our writing to include basic theoretical orientation to revolutionary politics as well as developing our Marxist analysis of events. By ignoring the power shortage in California simply because it does not directly apply to workers immediately in the city of Los Angeles and then only considering writing an article on the subject when the prospect of an increase in utility bills hits workers in the suburbs of LA creates the possibility of protests against the rate hikes demonstrates the limited scope of the work of the LA comrades. It is as if to say the conscious vanguard elements of the working class in LA that we are trying to reach have absolutely no interest in what happens in the world around them. The journal must put forward the Marxist analysis of events as they unfold particularly those events that pertain to the working class as a whole. A political organ of IBRP sympathizers in the US should try to represent the IBRP.

At any action we must consider carefully the forces present that we are attempting to influence. If these forces are not proletarian, say they are simply a bunch of left labor bosses, than it would be counterrevolutionary to try and influence them. If we are trying to agitate among workers who are lead by reactionaries, by petty-bourgeois reformists, then we must do our best to wean away those workers present from the influence of these forces. This is different than simply showing up and denouncing these reactionary forces. This means we must attempt to get the workers with whom we make contact to start to question the dominant and all-pervasive ideology of the bourgeoisie. We cannot expect to break our isolation by simply making new converts. The revolutionary perspective is the result of a process of development whereby a potential cadre gradually comes to a 'communist consciousness'. It is the result of confrontation discussion and reflection. It is more than verbally agreeing to a written platform. Our understanding of theory is directly reflected in our practice. If, in practice, we are idealistic and opportunistic then we cannot claim to be Marxists.

Revolutionaries cannot be guessing what it is that will rouse the working class from its sleep and get them to take up their historic struggle again. Revolutionaries can only organize themselves as well as possible and present their revolutionary perspective as clearly as possible. We cannot wait for a time in which the workers will suddenly get angry and then flock to us by virtue of our political positions, that is the method of idealism. We can do our best to be present in their struggles and defend the positions of proletarian internationalism and world revolution.

Communism is for us not a state of affairs which is to be established, an ideal to which reality [will] have to adjust itself.

@The German Ideology

Our activity cannot be imposed on workers or individual militants. If our approach to the formation of our revolutionary nucleus were only to make converts, then we would be guilty of trying to mould the situation by means of an idealistic method; we would be guilty of following the methods of the opportunists. We do not exist as an organization only to proselytize, to exist solely as a loose propaganda network. If we are to be in this real movement of the workers we cannot just be present with the sole intention of converting them. If we wait for workers to take up their struggle it will be too late to pull ourselves together as an organization. Conversely, if workers take up their struggle and we are not capable of acting within their struggle we will be of no use to the working class. New cadres are educated and oriented towards a revolutionary perspective they do not spring forth from the ground or suddenly become revolutionary in a flash of light.

In What is to be Done? Lenin writes of the errors of the economists for whom the day to day struggle in the work place was the sole focus of political activity. The economists of Lenin's day saw the role of a revolutionary as being essentially identical to that of a union boss. We do not improve our activity if we substitute agitating at protests in place of the union organizing activity of the economists.

A Question of Methods

From The Platform of the IBRP under the section heading The Revolutionary Party, we read that:

Under conditions of social peace, and especially in the imperialist heartlands where the bourgeoisie's domination is most extensive and advanced, this means the proletariat is subjected to the full weight of bourgeois ideology and organizations. This, in turn, imposes a marked separation between the proletariat as a whole and the political expression of its historical struggle: the communist party. It is periods of economic and social crisis which can lead to a break in the ideological and political hold of the bourgeoisie. Until then the revolutionary program and the political organisations represented by it will exist under conditions of forced separation from the class. It is a separation which cannot be overcome simply by an act of will or by organizational means.

There is nothing we can do to force this process. No amount of public relations expertise, advertising or pseudo-scientific approaches are going to bridge the gap between the working class and revolutionaries. We can simply do our best to put forward our revolutionary perspective in a frank and straightforward manner to workers whenever and wherever we are able. Unfortunately we must deal with the fact that as revolutionaries we are separated from the working class, and that the only way to change the situation is consistent revolutionary activity. There is no magic formula and no single issue that will so fire the minds of workers that they will be caused to develop as revolutionaries.

We cannot put off our task of political homogenization and centralization for the spontaneity of a momentary struggle of the working class hoping that struggle will bring us closer to our goal. Revolutionaries do not wait for workers to take up struggle before they begin tasks like putting out a regular publication, having public meetings, elaborating a platform. Revolutionaries do not wait for workers to take up struggle before they take up the basic tasks of a revolutionary organization.

Our methods cannot be sporadic and thought out at the spur of the moment. This is not the method of revolutionaries but the method of anarchists. If revolutionaries come to an agreement to a course of action, they then stick with that course of action until it is decided through the means of an open debate to change the course of action. Anarchist methods are seen in federalism as opposed to democratic centralism. These methods are marked by an inconsistency of actions, of not being resolute enough to forge ahead guided by a solid grounding in revolutionary theory. If we agree amongst ourselves to put out six issues a year of our publication then we should put out those six issues a year or at least open up a discussion about changing the rate of publication. In the federalism of the anarchists there doesn't need to be a real debate, only a majority vote. In this method of practice there is no need for debate and no need for consensus. Anarchists see every demonstration and riot as if it were the revolution itself. Remember how the anarchists viewed the outbreak of the uprising in Albania? They were proclaiming it to be "the" revolution. When we attempt to intervene with our perspective at a demonstration we are not engaging in a workers' "mass action", we are simply trying reach those present who may be attempting to come to some sort of revolutionary perspective. The action is not the end in and of itself. If everything we write is nothing more than a one page flyer handed out at a specific protest we lose our focus and our activity ends up being centered around our approach to the next demonstration and trying to guess what demonstration will bring the best response to our propaganda. The end purpose of intervening in demonstrations is to establish a visible presence that in the long term may pay off in bringing in a few new cadres. There will never be a single magic event that brings in the "masses".

A simple act of will or use of organizational means alone wont overcome the situation faced by revolutionaries. To function at all we must be able to work together. Our organization must be more than a group of individuals operating independently and supposedly in general agreement with each other politically. Our methods arise from our theoretical perspectives. If we are not clear as to our theoretical perspectives it must be because we have not had a real debate over these perspectives or over our resulting course of action. If we are not willing to openly discuss, debate and work with all of our comrades then there must clearly be a real divergence in the methods of our activity, a divergence which can only have a basis in our theoretical understanding of the tasks of revolutionaries. If we evade mutual criticism and debate and ignore the criticism of the very comrades that we are trying to work with as sympathizers then we have separated ourselves from a revolutionary perspective and cannot continue to pretend to be sympathizers of the IBRP.

If we do not represent the political positions and methods of the IBRP here then it is our commitment to the organization of the future international party that is in question. That the Bureau is not the party does not mean that it is simply a loose federation. The formation of a sympathizing section of the IBRP indicated that we had taken the first steps towards organizational centralization with the Bureau. This in itself is now in question.

The Tasks of Revolutionaries in the US

At the present time revolutionaries in the US, and elsewhere, have the basic tasks of achieving the continued growth, however small that growth may be, of internationalist communist organizations. We must put forward the revolutionary perspective on the current situation as it unfolds drawing out the necessary lessons that emphasize the most immediate positive steps workers can take to succeed in their struggles. A spontaneous outburst of class struggle will not build the revolutionary party by itself. Revolutionaries must be present in the struggles of the working class with the nucleus of a revolutionary organization beforehand. This revolutionary organization must be a centralized force of revolutionaries united around a common platform and practice.

We know that it is the working class that still holds the key to the overthrow of the capitalist class. That it is the historic task of the working class to overthrow the bourgeoisie. This task cannot be taken up by anyone else. Even the workers' own revolutionary party cannot take this task from the workers. The vanguard party is not an elite above the working class. As the vanguard it must be at the forefront of the struggles of the most conscious layers of the working class. This is the exact opposite of what the term "vanguard party" has come to mean.

That it is the working class only that can overthrow and suppress the bourgeoisie can be seen in the dismal failures of movements that have somehow claimed this as their objective but have not seen this as the unique task of the proletariat. Over the years we have seen the demise of the working class trumpeted again and again. Only to see it reappear on the stage of history as a threat to the ruling class. During the last few years we have witnessed the birth of a new movement that claims a broad cross class social base alternately called to be either "anti-capitalist" or "anti-globalization". It is a movement whose component organizations are all in the camp of the bourgeoisie. From left-wing trade unionists, to "environmentalists", to representatives of farmers seeking to save their protected status granted to them by the bourgeoisie. All these groups loosely grouped under the umbrella of the World Social Forum represent the forces of the petty-bourgeoisie, who seek a nicer capitalism. What these forces represent is the desire to return to the period of relative social peace that reigned from the end of the Second World War to the ending of the dollar to gold standard and subsequent oil shocks of the seventies. An "anarchist:" bloc, in reality anarchists and other miscellaneous bourgeois leftists, serve as the shock troops of this movement. The only vision posed by this movement is a utopian vision of a humane democratized capitalism - a warm fuzzy Mickey Mouse sort of capitalism. Without an organized conscious proletariat this movement has little more to offer than the typical sterile bourgeois leftist nationalism. A minimum of exposure for the revolutionary perspective at these protests could draw out some elements who are seeking the greater clarity of a real anti-capitalism.

In the movements of the late sixties and early seventies, we saw again how this petty bourgeois idea that nationalist and feminist issue oriented movements could serve as a substitute vehicle in place of a proletariat that, according to the likes of Gorz, had simply ceased to exist. These movements again failed to move beyond the bourgeois political perspectives of social democracy and Stalinism. What is left of these movements today other than the mythology which surrounds the popular historical perceptions of this period? They have nothing left to offer other than an impossible dream of reform that flies in the face of the current reality of capitalism.

Contrasted to these classless bourgeois movements are the historic examples of what an organized revolutionary proletariat can potentially achieve. The main examples remain, the Russian Revolution and the Paris Commune but still other lesser instances can be seen as well. In the French Strike of 1995 that over 9 million workers were willing to go on strike even though their struggle were both led and systematically sabotaged by the bourgeoisie through its labor union apparatus. A strike of this size gives us a glimpse of the potential strength of the proletariat.

The working class requires its own revolutionary party. This revolutionary party is not the creation of the will of a few militants neither is it a federation of contradictory forces. It cannot be declared prematurely but neither can this party be formed on the eve of the revolution. Without a revolutionary party any uprising of workers will result in defeat and ideological capitulation to the bourgeoisie. It is in these instances of real mass struggle that workers learn necessary lessons. These lessons are drawn out by the revolutionary party in the course of their participation and analysis of these struggles. The workers' councils, soviets, would not have taken power in the Russian Revolution if it were not for the Bolshevik Party, however inadequate this party may have been, acting at the front of the struggle for the overthrow of the bourgeoisie. None of the other political forces in Russia at the time saw soviets as anything more than a nuisance or, at best, a means of extending their waning political influence. Only the Bolsheviks, who for a short time formed the vanguard of the proletariat, actively putting forward the historical perspectives of turning the imperialist war into a civil war and putting forward the revolutionary option of the seizure of state power by the soviets. None of the political forces even seriously considered such a thing and even many leading Bolsheviks had to be convinced of the timeliness and necessity for such a course of action. Not the Mensheviks, not the Social Revolutionaries and certainly not the anarchists ever posed such an alternative.

On the other hand, we have plenty of examples of workers struggling without a revolutionary party and all of these moments in struggle ended in demoralization and defeat. In Chile, in the late sixties and early seventies there was only the presence of Social democrats and Stalinists providing their bourgeois leadership whose only perspective was the extension of the state capitalist sphere of the economy. In Poland, the workers' struggle against the Stalinist bourgeoisie came under the ideological domination of reactionary catholic nationalists and petty-bourgeois intellectuals who looked to a "capitalism with a human face" which they saw in the metropoles of western capitalism. The presence of revolutionaries in the struggles of the class would at the least provide the opportunity for even a few militant workers to draw out some useful lasting lessons from their experience in struggle rather than simply accepting the demoralization handed to them by the leftwing of capitalism.

In the metropoles of capitalism the ideological domination is more complete and more assured than in the rest of the capitalist world. This is particularly true in the US where, unlike the proletariat of Western Europe, workers have never experienced social democracy in power. This gives social democracy a sanctity that it does not have in Europe. This strengthens the constitutional and democratic illusions already very strong among workers in the US. Attacking these illusions created by capitalism's leftwing must be central to revolutionary propaganda and must be rooted in an analysis of events as they unfold.

The first task of revolutionaries in the US is to organize themselves into an organization of Internationalist Communists. This basic task includes regular public meetings, a regular press and intervention. There is no substitute for these basic activities. Every revolutionary organization must take up these tasks in one way or another. The goal of refining every facet of our activity cannot be considered sectarian or mechanistic.

The press must be put out on a regular basis and must be the professional collective expression of the whole of the revolutionary organization. The press is the most important tool we have for invention in the struggles of the class and confrontation with the denizens of the swamp. Since we do not have our own TV network we must settle for the printed word as our main mode of communication to the class. Our press cannot just denounce the actions of the bourgeoisie but must put forward a Marxist analysis of events that points the way forward for conscious vanguard elements of the proletariat. It must bring out those steps that workers can take to make their struggles more successful. The more unprofessional and sloppy our publication is the worse it reflects on us and the more it will alienate potential contacts.

Our intervention in workers' struggles when they arise must go beyond the interventions of the bourgeois leftists in both form and content. Before we go "to the masses" we must be able to put forward the revolutionary perspective as clearly and as professionally as possible. We must act to clearly delineate ourselves from the swamp. This intervention includes the defense of the positions of Internationalist Communism among the organs of the swamp. If our sole activity is to sell our publications at protests we would be acting no differently than the Sparts or the ISO. This means we must also engage and confront those organs, like the Discussion Bulletin, that seek to spread a confusion of positions and denigrate the politics of the revolutionary camp to an auxiliary of their "non-market socialism". We must seek to engage in debate the new anarchist-communist and councilist grouplets that have sprouted up over last few years. We shouldn't pretend they don't exist. Neither should we allow them to pretend that we don't exist. This debate and confrontation, as loathsome as it may be as a task, is a crucial one and should be a part of our activity and it should be carried out in an organized centralized manner as opposed to the haphazard nature of an informal e-mail discussion.

Regular public meetings compliment our agitation and press. They allow contacts to meet and speak with revolutionaries face to face on a formal basis. It does not matter whether a regular public meeting can attract a huge number of militants or not. The purpose of holding a meeting open to the public on a regular basis is to allow militants the opportunity to speak with revolutionaries. It allows revolutionaries to clarify their positions and answer specific questions that their contacts might have. It also contributes towards presenting a visible public face to the revolutionary organization rather than allowing only one form of activity and intervention to predominate over all other ways of making real lasting contacts. They can help us delineate more clearly why we are not just another clique of leftists and why, as revolutionaries we do not seek room for maneuver among the ranks of the bourgeois left. If even a couple of contacts attend then we can take the opportunity to put forward our case for why they should join with us in our work. We must be willing to pool together our resources do such a basic tasks on a fairly regular basis. The priority here is to allow for a formal setting where the occasional militant can speak with communists.

The organization of the nucleus of internationalist communists in the US is a very difficult task given the present situation of the isolation of revolutionaries from the class. Our intervention is intended to begin to bridge this gap nevertheless this separation is real. It would be a mistake to think that this process of molecular growth of this nucleus would occur along a straight linear path with no setbacks or deviations. Given the state of the left it is hardly surprising that counterrevolutionary opportunistic elements may approach revolutionaries that do not genuinely seek the clarity of revolutionary positions but are rather seeking a new home where they may continue their previous activities without interference. Given the strength of the ideology of the bourgeoisie, revolutionaries, as inexperienced as they may be here in the US, must be prepared to struggle against these elements. Emphasis here should be on the importance of deeper discussion and clarification of positions to bring out potentially conflicting perspectives as quickly and as painlessly as possible. This is doubly hard to accomplish when confronted by the vast physical distances that separate vanguard militants. Thus new contacts must be clearly presented the positions of internationalist revolutionaries. New cadres should adopt the methods and practice of internationalist communism, a verbal "confession" of agreement is not enough.

Within the revolutionary organization there must be a clear understanding that revolutionaries make decisions through debate that arrives at a consensus. If a small group of revolutionaries cannot arrive at a consensus there must be a misunderstanding that has its basis in conflicting theoretical perspectives. Revolutionaries must be able to debate with each other openly. The democracy of a majority vote is not an excuse for stifling the voice of a minority viewpoint. We must remember that it was the duty of the revolutionary minority within the early Communist International to confront counterrevolutionary deviations and draw out the lessons to be learned from this historic counterrevolution. A majority that needs to stifle debate and avoid open discussion and confrontation is not a majority that is fully confident or clear in its perspective.

Revolutionaries' main tasks remain unchanged despite the greater relative difficulty posed by the situation that revolutionaries find themselves in here in the US. Any setbacks must be dealt with and overcome. We cannot allow ourselves to lose sight of our goal, which is to create this nucleus of revolutionaries in preparation for the formation of a world party of the proletariat.

Where Revolutionaries Need to Be... and how their Past Experience Gets in the Way

A debate has been going on among sympathizers of the IBRP in the US. This debate has finally come out into the open in the pages of Internationalist Notes-US. The comrades of Los Angeles Workers' Voice have put forward a poor attempt at a reply to criticisms of their theoretical conceptions and the problems in their activity. Instead of answering the criticisms in the first half of 'Revolutionaries and Organization: Debate Among the Sympathizers of the IBRP', they have proceeded to engage in personal attacks.

I wrote my article specifically in an attempt to avoid anything that could be construed as a personal attack. Though this debate may appear incomprehensible to outsiders as we both may seem to be arguing essentially the same or similar positions, this is in fact, not the case.

In their article the author starts out belittling a simple observation about the AFL-CIO's pathetic attempts to retain its membership and its credibility by holding organizing drives (like the "union summer" recruiting college students to organizing work for the union) that have met with resounding failure.

They confuse agitation and propaganda into one phrase "agitprop". What is ironic in this use of the Stalinist expression is that for them the "prop" comes second precisely because a professional publication and an organized nucleus of revolutionaries centered around a revolutionary publication is of secondary importance to them. We must present a clear and professional revolutionary publication in our intervention. Otherwise, we are a disgrace to the revolutionary camp and ourselves as well.

Our perspectives differ radically to say the least. They clearly have a sentimental streak for the struggles of the late sixties and early seventies. They are not alone in their longing for a return to the "movement consciousness" of their youth. Their focus on "mass actions", protest movements is like a fetish. In their hearts they long for a return to those days. As an example I quote from page 13, issue 2 vol.3 of Internationalist Notes:

Didn't millions of masses break their political spurs at that time? Didn't the capitalist rulers and their state have to retreat a bit and grant a handful of reforms albeit temporary ones?

Let's look at what has become of the movements of those glorious times. What has become of feminism? What has become of all the "rank and file radicalism" of the wildcat strikes of the seventies? Did this movement succeed in ending the Vietnam War? No. Did the forces of reformism achieve the Equal Rights Amendment to the US constitution? No. What reforms were achieved at this time; some desegregation, Aid to Families With Dependent Children, legalized abortion, minor prison reforms, affirmative action and African-Americans right to vote for the likes of Al Gore or Bush II? These reforms were all temporary and all of them have been curtailed, seriously limited because the program of the bourgeoisie has changed fundamentally since the collapse of the post WWII order, represented in the Bretton Woods Accords. I didn't condemn reforms because they stand as something short of a world revolution. I only sought to outline the decline and demise of these reformist movements and the political perspectives that they represent in order to underline the importance of the organization of revolutionaries.

They quote the correspondence of Marx and Engels once as follows:

Had we in 1864-73 (1st International - NC) insisted on working together only with those who adopted our platform, where would we be today?"

Here they almost sound like they are using Marx and Engels as an excuse for typical leftist entryism. Actually, the author here is making a poor attempt at labeling me as sectarian, as being against intervention, as being opposed to participation, with workers, in their struggles. Here the author places himself on the "right" to my "ultra-left" but he can't argue this position with any real strength. He can't point to a single instance where I ever actually made such an assertion. Never did I say that revolutionaries should not intervene in struggles and be present putting forward the revolutionary perspective to workers.

Because of the historic counter-revolution that destroyed the hopes of the revolutionary workers of 1917 and because this counterrevolution lasted for so long, we as revolutionaries are organically separated from the working class. The activity of revolutionaries aims at overcoming this separation between the revolutionaries and the class which is particularly acute in the major centers of imperialist power like the US.

At the end of their response to the article they state that:

Lenin and the Bolsheviks pointed constantly to the need for pro-Party revolutionaries to eventually develop journals, newspapers, pamphlets, leaflets, study classes, etc. in the course of building a political base for the pro-revolutionary party trend inside the class and social struggles themselves. But it becomes impossible to do this when some Party forces consciously separate themselves from the masses and just think that the next horrible event of capital's decadence run amok will convince workers to join the tiny Revolutionary Internationalist Party if only they pick up a Revolutionary Platform at a library or a bookshop of off the Internet.

The self-righteous emotionalism of the above statement aside, it still does not alter the importance of getting as much exposure as possible for the revolutionary press, wherever possible, including libraries, bookstores, magazine stands and protests. In this statement the L. A. comrades may more aptly apply this to themselves. At the suggestion that getting our publications into libraries, magazine stands and bookshops might be a good idea they were aghast at how mechanistic and sectarian I was. God forbid that you go just a little out of your way in the major metropolis of L. A. to try to get a little more exposure for our press. Presently all revolutionaries are separated from the broad masses whether they like it or not. It should be pointed out to them further still that Lenin and the Bolsheviks understood the importance of the revolutionary press as one of the most important first steps in putting forward the revolutionary perspective to the masses.

Let's consider the example of our Canadian comrades. These comrades put out a good publication, they get it into a few bookshops, and they distribute Internationalist Notes (the Canadian version) at protests whenever possible. They put it out IN without any great financial resources, and it looks better than our publication ever has. At the moment they have less in the way of financial resources than we do. They have a similar number of active militants as we have. They have fewer typos than IN-US ever had in its publication. They even publish versions in French and English.

Even such comparatively minor growth, as there has been in the last few years in the ranks of internationalist revolutionaries, can present problems for any revolutionary organization. The experience of this conflict among IBRP sympathizers can hopefully serve as a valuable lesson. The tasks of revolutionaries remain unchanged and we have yet to begin.