Friday, August 31, 2018

A green mole in the ICC?

Herman Gorter when not busy writing open letters

This is a collection of old back issues of "World Revolution", the British publication of the International Communist Current (ICC). I've read three of these issues (124, 134, 135). They were published in 1989-90. Margaret Thatcher was still in power in Britain, but she was being increasingly challenged by anti-poll tax protests, including the riots at Trafalgar Square in London. Meanwhile, the Soviet bloc was in terminal crisis, the IMF had begun to impose "structural adjustment programs" on various Third World nations, Nelson Mandela was out of prison, and climate change had already become an issue. On the British left scene, the SWP and the old Militant Tendency were the strongest groups, while Class War was the most theatrical.

I admit that "World Revolution" is more accessible than the ICC's super-boring theoretical journal, International Review. But, of course, the basic politics are the same. If read carefully, the ICC's "interventions in the class struggle" turn out to be super-sectarian ruminations. The anti-poll tax movement is written off as "bourgeois", neither the Labour Party nor the unions can be supported, the SWP and Militant are no good either, and Class War are probably government agents. The crisis in the Eastern Bloc is given a pessimistic interpretation. Although the ICC opposed "Stalinist state capitalism" in the Soviet Union, they nevertheless argue that the democratic and nationalist protests against the Stalinist regimes have weakened the proletariat, both East and West, making it easy prey to "bourgeois" illusions about democracy, etc. This "wind from the east" made the ICC to draw even more pessimistic conclusions a few years later, claiming that the whole capitalist system (and society with it) was rapidly "decomposing", with no revolution in sight.

Another thing that stands out in "World Revolution" is the quasi-conspiracist perspective, what the ICC dubs "the Machiavellism of the bourgeoisie". The ICC somehow believes that the establishment (from left to right) is more or less perfectly united, and consciously decides which political party should be in government at any given time, the better to trick the workers into passivity. Thus, both British and American elections are really rigged. The British Labour Party *wants* to loose the elections to Thatcher, and therefore deliberately takes impossible positions (such as unilateral disarmament) which they know the electorate will reject. By being the opposition party, Labour can pretend to be a "radical" alternative to the Tories, and will be called upon by the bourgeoisie to take power at a later date, when the workers are too fed up with the Tories, and only Labour can control them. This scenario, needless to say, has nothing to do with classical Marxism, but the ICC believes that the capitalist class becomes *more* unified and conscious when the system declines, due to the increased power of the state, which acts like a general staff of the otherwise fractious bourgeoisie.

"World Revolution" no 134 contains a surprising article by one C D Ward about the greenhouse effect (man-made climate change). While condemning the Greens and Deep Ecology, Ward nevertheless lands in a surprisingly Green position himself: "A considerable part of the existing industrial infrastructure will have to be demolished, relocated and reconstructed on a new basis, using non-polluting energy sources. The monstrously swollen urban conglomerations will also have to be dismantled, and the tyranny of the private automobile overthrown. There will have to be a vast programme of reforestation as part of the wholesale reshaping of the social\natural landscape".

Needless to say, such a perspective has nothing to do with Marxism either, nor - I presume - with the usual line of the ICC...

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