Revolution or War n°22

(September 2022)

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Correspondence with the Red Specter Collective on The Dynamics of The Class Struggle and The Communist Organizations’ Intervention

We publish here extracts from the correspondence we had with the Red Specter Collective of the United States [1]. The comrades of the Red Specter Collective initially understood our position on the unions as an “indifferentist” position towards the daily struggles, economic or revendicative, of the proletariat. It is essentially this confusion that we try to clarify in our letter. We have not had time to deal directly with various other questions raised by the letter, such as, for example, what it calls ’pre-party formations’ and which corresponds to intermediate organs between the party and the class. Similarly, we do not directly address the question of the ’network of territorial groups’ that the collective called for in the first place; or the distinction that the letter makes, wrongly in our opinion, between ’struggle in itself’ and ’struggle for itself’. Nevertheless, the comrades came back on some of these points following our letter and their reading of Marx’s German Ideology and Rosa Luxemburg’s Mass Strike, Party and Union. We are convinced that the publication of these exchanges and the continuation of the debate on this point will be of interest to all communist and revolutionary forces at the dawn of massive confrontations between classes inevitably provoked by the crisis and the war.

Letter of the Red Specter Collective to the IGCL (June 29th 2022)


Yes you may share the correspondence with ICT. (…) We are discussing your platform at our next meeting this Sunday and we hope to make an effort to send you additional reflections after that. If possible it would be great to hear your reflections on the views presented here before Sunday if time allows you so that we can further develop from there. (...)

Trade Unions, Economic Struggle and Spontaneity

As it regards the trade union question we agree in principle regarding their ultimately counterrevolutionary role historically; however, we are still debating internally regarding the appropriate tactics of how to relate to them today. What follows is an essay from one member which hasn’t been fully reviewed by all members but we would appreciate a response to.

Abstention from the Economic Struggle?

Your platform seems to imply that pre-party formations which should become “genuine permanent organizations” should not themselves engage within defensive, economic, class struggle to advance the immediate interests of the workers on an ongoing basis..

“Consequently, the capitalist character of these organs extends to all new organizations which give themselves similar functions, whatever their organizational model and the intentions they proclaim.This is the case of the ’revolutionary unions’ or ’base unions’, as well as of all the organs (committees or workers’ nuclei, workers’ commissions) which can subsist beyond the end of a struggle, even opposed to the unions, and which tend to constitute a genuine permanent organization of defense of the immediate interests of the workers.”

The struggle around the defense of the immediate interests of workers is part and parcel of the class struggle in-itself. The job of communists is to engage within this struggle to broaden it into a class struggle for-itself as much as possible; the emergence of the political class struggle comes out of the realities brought forth within the economic struggle, by contradictions within the economic substructure that put workers in direct confrontation with their class enemy and thus are able to constitute themselves as a distinct class out of a mass of individual workers acting in competition to one another in normal circumstances. It is only the class struggle which can erase the confused fog of bourgeois ideology, constantly attempting to recuperate the social antagonisms created by its system of production to further rejuvenate itself.

By precluding ongoing organizational activities incorporating tactics oriented around the joining in with workers around the practical organization of the defense of their immediate interests, communist loose the opportunity to advance workers consciousness within the critical and sometimes brief moments when they act upon their class instinct, and are most susceptible to making large strides towards wider class consciousness. As class consciousness is not a linear progression and typically only arrises as a result of the economic contradictions workers face and in defense of their material interests, its our duty to intervene in ways that add capacity to workers efforts to defend their individual interests while helping them to understand their broader class interest and historic role. It should also be our critical aim to work to incorporate workers who are won over the internationalist position within these class struggles into living and breathing territorial groups of revolutionaries. We know communist conciseness decays and dies if left in the minds only of isolated individual workers detached from a revolutionary collective, where the history of our class and its lessons lives only. The ICT’s “Theses on the Role of Communists in the Economic Struggle of the Working Class” states

“Today the economic struggle is immensely more complex than it was at the dawn of capitalism but Communists cannot shy away from it or sit with folded hands to await a better time. It makes no sense for an organisation defining itself as communist to regard action among the workers as an activity to be carried out only in certain historical periods or a future circumstance of greater numerical strength. Being involved in the daily struggle of the working class is an integral part of revolutionary work. As Onorato Damen insisted: ’To put forward revolutionary demands on the ground, however small, in the current insecure and feeble conditions of workers’ struggle, to engage in an active political militancy not just restricted to a typewriter and theorising which is an individual activity that is always debatable in intention as well as results.’ Today it is not the union which is the school of socialism but the class struggle itself.”

Here the ICT and Onorato implies that putting forth of “small” revolutionary demands within the daily economic struggle of workers is an essential part of communist work, in moments such as today when the workers movement is small and feeble. Throughout writings of the ICT they describe how part of the work of communist organizing is to expand and generalize the demands within the economic struggle of workers based on the reality of the situation.

Of course if communists only engagement with workers in the heat of a strike or escalatory action, is to appear as a complete outsider distribute reading materials and then exit the situation, the most likely outcome is for those scraps of paper to be placed immediately in the trash can. Our interventions must involve both theory and action by direct participation in these struggles and assisting workers in the labor that is involved in carrying out militant activity as they may require. Thus an appropriate balance of labor of both theoretical development and action must be struck in pre-party formations. Such activity requires groupings and membership of people who are not only experts in theory, developing propaganda and educational material for distribution, but courageous fighters who prove themselves within the class war itself who work together in unison adding to the overall activity of the pre-party formations. Through active participation in the shared labor of collective struggle militants engage in relationship building with workers which propagandizes and agitate workers much more thoroughly and consistently via discursive exchanges and dialogue within the ongoing developments of a particular struggle. This sort of method is much more effective in raising communist consciousness than simply distributing reading materials. (...)

Revolutionaries should not inadvertently reproduce divides that separate themselves from the general movement of the workers by refusing to engage in the menial logistical labors that is often required to sustain such moments of working class action or from taking the risky actions associated with being on the front lines of a picket line or the barricades when workers take decisive action. Yes we should join in any assemblies if and when they form but we should also not forget to emphasis the importance of joining in the actual work and labor such things like running a strike require. The movements of the economic struggle are movements of the class itself developing an initial consciousness and thus we have responsibility to immerse ourselves within these activities to whatever extent is advantageous given the array of revolutionary forces in any given area.

Thus communists must be responsive to the living breathing realities of workers themselves and act as good prudent generals in assessing the alignment of class forces in any given situation, to devise the importance of dedicating themselves respectively to agitational, propaganda or work of direct interventions. If pre-party formation only intervene more directly within the economic struggle of “their own workplaces”, as seems to generally be the doctrine of the Damenist tradition today then, the pre-party forces again separate themselves from the general movements of the class, and don’t allow themselves the tactical room to grow their numbers in any given location to a sufficient degree required to reunite proletarians with the weapons of the historical lessons of their class. The party must strike a balance between a focus on theoretical development and activity within the class. (...)

In this situation there is a necessity for both developing organizational practices that allow preparty formations a tactical field fully capable of outreaching to proletarians while preparing themselves in developing methods of longer term secrecy and capacities at functioning in a time of deeper state repression such as those which could eminent in the United States. Additionally, a more direct engagement within the economic struggle, would allow us to both introduce workers to the communist program and recruit militants. The need to present fellow proletarians with a viable political alternatives to the increasingly polarized battle lines being drawn between the left and right wing of capital and the various imperialist blocs, presses down more than ever. Without the presence of local grouping of militants capable of actively participating within class movements, it is a guarantee that the revolutionary program will never make contact with the masses of the working class, this is not a process we can count on happening on its own due to some mystical unfolding of material determinism, but practical and tangible questions of organization that must be addressed concretely. (...)

Beyond the manipulative totalitarian control of communication technologies that shape and carve subjective consciousness and political frameworks of how proletarians understand and see the lines of fight for advancing their individual interests within the decadent capitalist order, The presence of a vast army of NGO groups, and grassroots formations of left capitalist ideologies, supported by a vast array of bourgeois intellectual and ideological factories called universities, present themselves immediately within any spontaneous movement outside of the workplace to dominate and control these movements. In todays “information age” and “attention economy” we can’t rely on state capitalist dominated tools to give us knowledge of the class terrain and guid our interventions. Instead pre-party formations should seek out sections of the working class, even before they make news with their own active struggle. Build ties with the working class, encourage them to self-organize, to take action, offer our solidarity and organizational methods for combating attacks by the bosses and generate agitational content out of the lived experiences of the class itself, instead of tailing the latest outrage focused on by the forces of left of capital, as it continues its inevitable dissent into a more regressive despotic authoritarianism.

Territorial Groups and The Defensive Aspect of the Class Struggle

Thus we see a need for pre-party formations where they exist in localities with adequate numbers to develop regular programs of focusing on internal eduction, propaganda, agitation and activities rooted in joining in with active solidarity with the defensive struggles of the class. These could look like the creation of territorial groups organized around internationalist principles that actively sought out groups of workers considering taking action against their boss in their workplace. Encouraging them to form temporary action committees and/or joining the territorial group itself. Such tactics allow pre-party formations the capacity to develop organizational and confrontational experience, win proletarians to the communist program and present our tendencies views to much larger sections of the working class. Without developing a wider tactical field pre-party formations will likely be unable to develop the organic membership composition necessary to develop vital organizations capable of becoming a real material force capable of having an impact on the unfolding of events. Our tendency represents the only coherent principled answers for the global proletariate and it is a vital necessity to discover ways to bring this tradition to proletarians across the world searching for tools of liberation. (…)

Red Specter Collective, June 29th 2022

IGCL Letter (July 2nd 2022)

The IGCL to Red Specter Collective,

Dear comrades,

Unfortunately, we won’t be able to send you any developed comments and arguments before your meeting of tomorrow. Actually, your letter mainly deals with the question of the revolutionaries’ intervention within the working class and raises several theoretical and political questions – the very process of class struggle, the relation party-class – that would require more time and clarification of our respective positions. May be the easiest way for you to have a first idea of our conception – and thus may be of the differences we may have – on the class struggle and on our intervention within the class is to refer to some of our articles. We don’t refer you to these ones as absolute positions, to “accept or reject”, but as tools for your and our reflections and political debate – may be confrontation – as well as general clarification to know what are the agreements and disagreements.

We’re particularly concerned to clarify our position regarding the economic struggle. Not only do we think absolutely necessary the communist groups intervene and be part of it, through their general intervention as well as through the members or sympathizers they may have in the workplaces, but we defend that they must attempt, fight for, taking the political lead of these economic struggles, whatever limited and local they may be. There, there is already one point to underline: for us, any class struggle, even very local and very limited is not only an economic struggle but also a political struggle, if only because on our historical period any working class struggle is directly confronted with the whole capitalist state apparatus. For a struggle be as efficient as possible in regards with the demands, it requires to look for extension and generalization and thus to confront the union opposition, open or masked, to any spreading. Thus, the economic demands and the political dimension of any struggle is closely linked because the communist groups and their militants in the workplaces have to put forwards demands that are part of this struggle for extension, for the workers of other places can take them back and enter into the very struggle. So, the political fight that any proletarian struggle has to lead for looking any efficiency is in first place to organize the extension and fight against the attempts to keep the struggle isolated, setting specific and corporatist demands alien to other places or sector, etc. The specific role of the political vanguard is not only to put forwards these demands and methods of extension but also to state what is the immediate relation of forces for the extension and the demands be a real stake of the situation, of the fight, that is politically possible – obviously, we don’t call for the workers insurrection at any moment. The same goes for the definition of the means and goals, kind of extension and demands, of any struggle. Finally, in this fight for the demands and the extension, the proletarians are confronted with the unions, trade-unions as well as rank-and-files [2], who oppose, openly or not, this unitary demands and need for spreading the strike or struggle. To make it simple and rough, this confrontation, open or not, with the unions as full organs of the bourgeois state in our historical period is full part of the political dimension of the struggle.

The second concern we have reading your letter is the Internationalist Workers Solidarity League your put forwards. It’ll require further clarification. At first look – thus we don’t have a definitive position on this –, it appears for us as a kind of formal schema, while the class struggle process is much more dynamic and moving. The way you present it focuses on the roots within the class, not being outsiders, assisting such workers who accept internationalist principles. The approach tends [3] to set the relation party-workers as a relation with an addition of individuals. It also reduces this specific organization – is this a pre-party formation you mention? – to the workers who accept internationalist principles – what about the others? Is this position the same as the KAPD’s AAUD that actually, and despite their formal anti-union position, were new unions? Other questioning: what do you mean by appearing as outsiders? Do you reduce the relation party-class only to the physical presence of militants within the workplaces or their local relation to such or such group of workers? Since you refer to the Thesis of Lyon, we think worth quoting this passage in relation to any labourist conception and to reflect on both class struggle dynamic and the relation with the party:

“Any conception of the problems of internal organisation that leads to the error of the labourist conception of the party reveals a serious theoretical deviation, inasmuch as it substitutes a democratic vision for a revolutionary one, and attributes more importance to utopian schemes for designing new organisations than to the dialectical reality of the collision of forces between the two opposed classes.” [4]

To be short, let’s present you, very roughly, what are the main organs-organizations the proletariat develops for its historical and immediate struggles under the period of state capitalism:

- what we call the unitarian organs that gather the whole workers, just because they are proletarians and they want to participate to the struggles; they were the unions from the 19th century up to, let’s say, the 1st World War ; nowadays, they are the workers councils or soviets during revolutionary or pre-revolutionary period in which the class is mobilized in masse, general assemblies or strike committees – whatever formal name they may have. These unitarian organizations gather all the workers for the struggle.

- the proletariat also produces its political organs, that is the political party, the communist party and groups, whose function is to assume the historical and practical political leadership of the whole class.

- there is a third kind or dimension of organization that makes a direct link between both. To limit ourselves here, we can mention what the ICT calls the factory and territory groups set up by the party. For our part, we point out the need for struggle committees that can be the result of the gathering of several workers for a workplace or a territory who want to mobilize and prepare a struggle. These struggle committees may be, and some times must be, set up by the initiatives and the calls of the communist groups and party – in a certain way, we consider for our part the NWBCW committees as such struggle committees.

This presentation is very rough and simple. The reality of the class struggle is much more dynamic and moving than formal distinctions and categorizations. It is just to give you a general idea of our approach.

May be a “specificity” of the IGCL update is that, among the pro-party forces and the ones claiming the Communist Left of Italy, we refer and base our understanding and position on the class struggle to The mass strike process such as Rosa Luxemburg described it, such as Trotsky related it in his book 1905 and the mass strike such as Lenin referred to on several occasions.

So as you can see, your letter opened a field of questionings and discussions that we hope we’ll be able to develop. We just wanted here to present you some general lines of thought and debate. If you’ve time enough, you can refer to some of our previous statements:

- in Revolution or War #8, and in response to the ICT text The Role and Structure of The Revolutionary Organization, we published Reflections on The Intermediary Groups Between The Party and The Class [5];

- in RW #11, we published Comments on The GCCF Theses on The Union Question [6].

About our intervention, you can also refer to several leaflets and balance-sheet of specific struggles, particularly in France, which we published. Particularly in issues 6, 10 and 14. For instance, very short is the article Response to critical comments [7] about the question of economical demands so that you can have a quick look and read it before your Sunday meeting. A little longer – not too much actually –, the Second Communique on The Strikes in France [8] deals with the question of the “intermediary” organs and our intervention within them.

We’re sorry to respond you so close to your meeting. But, any clarification and discussion process has to be set in the long run, particularly in regards with the struggle for the party. For sure, you won’t have time enough to read and discuss the texts we refer you to. But our aim is just to give you some references for the future and help you see and know, what are our positions and what may be our differences. That’s also part of any process of clarification. As well, and for experience, we know that debates, confrontations and comments, whether critical or not, are always welcome. Not for a democratic reason, nor because any position is equal to others, but because it forces us to reflect and respond to the arguments and criticism, whether by improving the argumentation, or by being convinced of the criticism. (...)

Internationalist Greetings, the IGCL, July 2nd 2022

Response of the Red Specter Collective (July 29th 2022)


Since our last correspondence we have been collectively reflecting on some of the points you raised and materials you sent. The questions you stirred for us along with our reading of The German Ideology by Marx, & Luxemburg’s Mass Strike, all within the context of a growing number of strikes across the globe, even from our last correspondence, have clarified many things for us. A major sticking point was obviously regarding the question of spontaneity and the party-class relationship.

From reading the German Ideology we have a clearer understanding of how historically the ’revolutionary mass’ arises out of the contradictions between the relations of production and the productive forces. This is a historical process which emerges over the course of a long period, as such we should not so much see ourselves as individuals separated from the determining dynamics within the capitalist mode of production. Instead we act as the self-conscious element of the class itself. According to Marx in the German Ideology

“The separate individuals form a class only insofar as they have to carry on a common battle against another class, in other respects they are on hostile terms with each other as competitors. On the other hands the class, in its turn assumes an independent existence as against the individuals so that the later find their conditions of life predetermined, and have their positions in life, and hence their personal development assigned to them by their class, thus becoming subsumed under it. This is the same phenomenon as the subject of the separate individuals to the division of labor and can only be removed by the abolition of private property and of labor itself. “
So we as revolutionaries are not detached from the fabric of the various factors which determine the alignment of the capacities of the proletarian at any given time. We act as a conscious element of the class itself, which has arisen as a result of the exact level of contradictions at this historical junction within the system itself as it has played out over our lifetimes.

Upon familiarizing ourselves more with the Mass Strike as it occurred in Russia, we now see how the process Marx discussed in the German Ideology, unfolded in concrete terms over a protracted period of escalated class struggle historically. Given the sustained period of the current accumulation crisis it does not seem that the current trend of increased workers militancy is likely to end anytime soon. It points to a potential development of a global mass strike. We agree that every economic struggle is also a political struggle. As such, we agree that it is essential that we as members of the revolutionary class conscious vanguard perform our historical role in providing political leadership within the emerging struggles of our class. Given that the capitalist class can only resolve its current crisis through a third world war, we also agree on the central importance of developing proletarian opposition to this by presenting the only alternative to capitalism’s war drive, revolution.

In regards to the interventions within the class we appreciated your clarifications, and are in agreement that these should focus on the generalization of struggles and the breaking of their isolation within individual sectors. We have witnessed how even within recent events this has occurred within the struggle of healthcare workers where we are presently situated and more broadly with the railroad workers attempts to move to a strike in the United States. We also agree in regards to efforts to extend the demands of particular workers struggles in relation to an assessment of the immediate relation of forces within any given workers struggle.

Given all of this, we have scraped our plans in regards to the Territorial Defense League. Upon further reflection we indeed felt that it was too schematic and was falling into past errors of ours, in attempting to generate class struggle where conditions were not driving workers already towards spontaneous activity. Instead we have chosen to redouble our efforts within the No War But Class War committee. Our correspondence have helped us clarify the historical context of how spontaneous action arises as a result of the objective historical situation, what are possibilities for more effective interventions in the future and the appropriate party-class relationship.

(…) Additionally, we would ask for your permission to publish all of our correspondences we have had thus far on our blog as we are hoping to also put into practice this element of the ’party method’ as it relates to our Red Specter blog and conversations with other groups in the communist left.

Red Specter July 29th 2022



[2. Whatever honest rand and file unionists or union delegates may be, and whatever they can sometime agree and support our orientation for a given moment and situation. And, if we can convince them, fine...

[3. We remain careful since we’re not sure we have understood well your position. But, we also want to present you our first concern so that to favor as much as we can the clarification of our respective positions.