Revolution or War n°17

(January 2021)

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Statement on the ICT 2020 Platform

The Internationalist Communist Tendency (ICT) has written a new ’updated’ version [1] of the platform adopted in 1996 by its antecedent, the International Bureau for the Revolutionary Party (IBRP) [2]. Whoever is convinced that it is appropriate to work centrally in the struggle for "the class party [which] is indispensable to the proletariat’s revolutionary struggle for the very reason that it is the political and organised expression of class consciousness", can only consider the congresses, conferences, etc., as well as the programmatic documents of other communist groups, as particular moments, among the most important, of the class struggle which, unless we give in to the sirens of sectarianism, it is appropriate to debate and pronounce.

The platform of the ICT is totally within the framework of the positions of the Communist Left and the proletarian camp. As such, it is, and must be, a reference for all groups, circles and individuals who want to reappropriate the class positions and lessons of the Communist Left; especially for those who want to engage in the communist struggle and join the organizations that are in its vanguard. For our part, conscious of the central role that this organization occupies today among the pro-party forces within the proletarian camp, we consider essential to draw the attention of the greatest number to this text and to encourage reflection and political clarification around the principles and positions put forward in it. This approach and these positions and interventions, critical or not, are, and must be considered, as indispensable and precious moments in the struggle for the regroupment of revolutionary forces and for the party.

The Proletarian Camp and the Historical Alternative Revolution or War

Before addressing the main positions put forward by the platform, it is important to note and welcome two points. The first one is the claim of the existence of a proletarian camp and the clear definition of its contours and stakes: “the broad proletarian camp [3] (…) can be defined as those who stand for working class independence from capital; who have no truck with nationalism in any form; who saw nothing socialist in Stalinism and the former USSR, at the same time as recognising that October 1917 was the starting point for what could have become a wider world revolution. Amongst the organisations which fall within this broad framework there remain significant political differences, not least over the vexed question of the nature and function of the revolutionary organisation.” We would like to welcome this passage and to underline the fact that one of the main issues – for us it is even the main one – that this camp is facing touches on the central question of the party. It constitutes the main line of confrontation which delimits the ’partidist’, pro-party forces and dynamics, those which not only claim the party as an indispensable organ of political leadership of the proletariat but above all those who work and struggle effectively for its constitution, and those who oppose it, or even deliberately seek to sabotage it, and who are, explicitly or not, linked to the councilist and economist theories and positions.

The second point is the Marxist thesis, particularly highlighted by the Communist Left of Italy, according to which “once again the question of imperialist war or the proletarian revolution is being placed on the historical agenda and imposes on revolutionaries throughout the world the need to close ranks. In the epoch of global monopoly capitalism no country can escape the forces which drive capitalism to war. Capitalism’s ineluctable drive towards war is expressed today in the universal attack on the working and living conditions of the proletariat.” As any reader accustomed to reading us will have noticed, we may have written this passage ourselves. It reaffirms the historical alternative, revolution or war, a principle that is denied and rejected today within the proletarian camp itself, by the ICC in particular. Above all, it highlights the topicality of the perspective of generalized imperialist war "on the historical agenda" as a factor of today’s situation imposing on "revolutionaries to close ranks" and as a factor of the very course of class struggle which "is expressed today in the universal attack on the working and living conditions of the proletariat”. This passage illustrating and applying the method of dialectical materialism, a passage which the ICT has rightly deemed useful to introduce into its platform, must serve as a principle and a guiding thread for the action and intervention of all communist groups and organizations today, and the party of tomorrow.

The Class Positions of the Platform

Let’s move on to the platform’s class positions. We cannot within the limited framework of this statement present and argue our agreements on each of them. We will therefore concentrate in priority on the few critical observations, which do not call into question the class character of the document. The new 2020 version is essentially the same as the IBRP version. It does not systematically present, point by point, the principle positions of the IBRP-ICT and which are globally common to all the Communist Left groups, except the so-called Bordigist current. This choice weakens the emphasis on and the political clarity of the principles that any platform must put forward. The chapters touching on these positions – Capitalism, State Capitalism, Parliament, Trade Unions, National Liberation Struggles, The Degeneration of the Russian Revolution, Party, State and Class – are scattered in the midst of other parts, The Present Period, China or Social Democracy, which, in themselves, do not enable to apprehend and underline the full scope and extent of the principles underlying the communist position on each one of these two last questions. Not having treated China in the framework of the point on State Capitalism as well as Social Democracy in a specific point on the currents which belonged to the workers’ movement and passed into the bourgeois camp, The Left of Capital, seems to us to weaken, by diluting it, the scope of the denunciation of state capitalism and the currents of the bourgeois left – we return to this point below. In the same way, we can regret that there is no specific point on the denunciation of Frontism, while it is a class position peculiar to the Communist Left of Italy which was the only one to oppose it within the Communist International. Just as no mention is made of the question of terrorism.

The platform presents the trade unions as "organisations that work for the preservation of capitalism [and] will be bastions of the counter-revolution”. This position is central today so that the communist groups and the party can stand in the vanguard of the struggles by assuming, and taking the lead, of the political confrontation with the unions and the bourgeois political forces of the left and its satellites of the extreme left, Trotskyists, Anarchists, etc, in the strikes, assemblies, demonstrations, etc. We disagree with the presentation of the unions as "organs of mediation between labour and capital" which reduces the scope of their denunciation as full-fledged political organs of the bourgeois state. This leaves the door open to the position, or the idea, that they can still mediate between the classes, express the immediate interest of labour against capital, even defend the value of labour-power while they participate fully in its reduction to the maximum... by opposing and sabotaging workers’ struggles.

Weakness of the Class Characterization of Leftism

The point on Social Democracy is the one we are most critical of, even though we believe that the ICT expresses a class position, which puts us on the same side of the class barricade on this issue. Even if it defends that "there is a marked difference between proletarian political organisations of the period before October [the 1917 proletarian insurrection in Russia] and those in the period following it”, without explicitly specifying the class nature of this difference [4], it seems to us that it is a source of political confusion that we cannot fully address here. There is, however, one crucial aspect that we would like to point out. The English and French versions explain this "marked difference" by "the bankruptcy of the majority of the old parties of the Second International" (emphasis added) [5]. But it is not their collapse, their bankruptcy, or their diverse weaknesses that make proletarian parties and currents pass into the bourgeois camp, into that of counter-revolution, but their effective betrayal of the proletarian class. The characterization as bankruptcy instead of betrayal, that is to say betrayal of the proletariat, does not include a class characterization. As a result, the programmatic document that is the platform does not close the door to opportunist concessions on the question of leftism and authorizes avoiding the indispensable, and sometimes even painful effort among those that have in the past militated within leftist organizations, towards an effective political break with leftist ideology, policies and practices.

Actually, it might have been preferable to have a specific point on the question of the old proletarian currents, social-democracy, Stalinism, Trostkyism – nothing is said in the platform about Anarchism, nor even about the bourgeois class nature of leftism in general – having successively passed into the service of counter-revolution. This would have made it possible to underline the fundamental reason for their passage into the bourgeois camp: the effective betrayal of proletarian internationalism and/or proletarian revolution, for example in opposition to the Russian Revolution of 1917; and to clearly set out the method for assessing the class nature of the currents and organizations claiming to be part of the workers and/or revolutionary movement. This would help the whole ICT to arm itself more effectively against any concession to leftism, each part of the organization being compelled to refer to a "formally established principle of our programme" (Lenin, One Step Forward, Two Steps Back); and would impose on its new members a more formal and profound break with leftist positions, ideology, and practice [6].

Without offering an absolute guarantee, which cannot exist, a greater clarity and precision of the platform on this issue could serve as a reference and offer a method to orient oneself in the heat of the events. In this way, the new ICT members in North America could have avoided, from their first concrete experience in the demonstrations following the murder of G. Floyd, getting caught in the nets of radical and anarchist leftism. Did they not see in the street demonstrations of revolt, in itself legitimate, a reaction of the working class itself pushing ’back against state repression [and responding] in defiance to the crooked social order [the police] murder for” [7]? For these comrades then, at the very moment when the bourgeoisie goes on the offensive on the political and ideological level by supporting and framing these manifestations of revolt, "the struggle continues [and] the urban rebellion needs to be transformed into world revolution” [8]. In fact, the intervention of the comrades did not find itself at the vanguard of the class struggle but at the tail of the radicalized petty-bourgeoisie, behind and at the service of the anti-racist and democratic campaign launched by the left of the state apparatus, concretely behind Black Lives Matter and the Democratic Party. Is there any need here to recall that this campaign ended with a record electoral participation and the strengthening of democratic and identity ideologies, that is to say with an important political success for the bourgeoisie?

The Legacy of the Partito Comunista Internazionalista on the Party Question

The last parts of the platform that deal with the Party, State and Class and The Revolutionary International are essential and, without doubt, represent its points of strength. They reaffirm the indispensable character of the party for the success of the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat because "it is the political and organised expression of class consciousness. It contains the politically most advanced part of the working class organised to defend the programme of emancipation for the entire proletariat and to lead the whole class towards the overthrow of capitalism. By definition the revolutionary party will always be a minority of the proletariat and yet the communist programme it defends can only be implemented by the working class as a whole [knowing that] the only real guarantee of victory is the class consciousness of the working masses themselves and the continuous spreading of the international revolution.” The section on The Revolutionary International puts forward general principles with which we agree, while raising points of disagreement of a secondary nature, which are not of principle. In particular, the platform argues that the constitution of the world party, of the International, will be accomplished through "the dissolution of the various “national” or regional organisations". For our part, we consider, following the example of the original ICC and the Bordigist current, that the party must constitute itself from the outset as an international party and that its future components – divergence here with the Bordigist current –, groups and currents, which will inevitably be called upon to form it, must constitute themselves as international groups from on the outset, whatever the reality and limits of their location. The political expressions of the proletariat, its minorities as isolated and dispersed as they may be, including geographically, are and must be above all expressions of the international proletariat and not the expressions of local or national proletariats. If only because they carry and defend the programme of the proletariat which can only be one and international. This difference with the ICT leads us to have different practices and interventions in our policies of international regroupment, which are not ’opposed’ in themselves and which would not be opposed in practice if the weight of sectarianism were to be combated when it is expressed.

The Need to Refer to the 1952 Platform

This platform does not bring out the class principles and positions, sometimes also called class frontiers, as clearly as in the original platform of the ICC [9] for example, whose ’coherence’ on the points is given by its position on the ’decadence of capitalism’, or in that of the PCint-Battaglia Comunista of 1952 and 1982, whose coherence is given by the nature and role of the party. We can now regret that, when the IBRP was set up, it considered useful to draft a new platform instead of taking up the PCint platform, even if it could require updating it. The result was a document which appears to be a collection of positions and concerns, sometimes even eclectic, instead of a coherent and homogeneous text which displays the programmatic unity of all the positions. Is this due to the very conditions of the then grouping within the IBRP, understood as an addition of national experiences? And the regrouping as "the dissolution of the various ‘national’ or regional organisations", each one bringing its own experience and making the adopted platform a synthesis of supposedly different experiences?

For us, the 1952-1982 document had and still has such universal value that we can still claim it today. The positions appear not as a succession adding up to each other, but as determined by the main party question. The affirmation of the principle on the party from the very first points of the platform is precisely what gives all the positions their unity, coherence and political rigour that any programmatic document requires in order to be able to best arm the concrete action of the party and its capacity to anticipate events.

“The party activity cannot and must not be limited to maintaining the purity of theoretical principles and the organisational network, nor to achieving immediate and numerical success at all costs. The party is both a product and a factor of class struggle. The tasks of the party can be summarised as follows:

a) propaganda for its principles and the continual elaboration according to their development;

b) the active participation in all workers’ struggles for immediate demands;

c) the leadership of the insurrection for the revolutionary assault on power;

d) it is under the active leadership of the class party that the proletariat exercises, by means of dictatorship, the management of power and builds the socialist economy.

In all situations where the direct struggle for the conquest of power is not yet possible, the party must jointly develop the first two tasks; its absence in the struggles of the proletariat, even partial and immediate, is inconceivable." (Piattaforma politica del PCint, 2e Congresso Milano, 1952, Editrice Libraria Prometeo, we translate form the original French version published at that time by the PCint).

But, what’s done is done, there is no going back today on the adoption of the more confused platform of the IBRP and the ICT. At the end, our agreements with the points of the current platform are essentially on questions of principle and class positions; our disagreements on secondary, even tactical, issues. By distinguishing the two dimensions, it is not a question of denying the reality and importance of these differences, but of clarifying where they lie and making it possible to understand what the ICT and our group have in common, why they find themselves most of the time on the same side of the multiple class barricades that each event raises.

Recent experience teaches us that it costs today’s ICT members to accept critical comments as anything other than attacks aimed at weakening the organization. However, we are certain that the strength of the material facts, which also includes positions and criticisms, in relation to the development of the historical situation, also contribute, at least indirectly, to the reflection, clarification and development by the ICT itself of its own positions, those that belong to its heritage. The exposition of our critical comments should also allow readers, militants and sympathizers of the Communist Left to better understand the meaning and object of our struggle within the proletarian camp, and even to join it. And to the pro-party forces of the proletarian camp, of which the ICT and we ourselves are part, to work together in the best possible way in the historic struggle for the party.

The IGCL, November 2020



[1. All the quotations to follow that are not referenced are quotations from this platform that the reader can find in English on the ICT website. :

[2. In Revolution or War #2, we have already published a text sent by a comrade, who has since joined our group, who took position on the ICT and CCI platforms :

[3. This recognition by today’s ICT is all the more noteworthy as there was a time when the IBRP tended to reject the existence of this camp, particularly in its text Towards the New International in 2000: “In other words we think that, under present conditions, the category “proletarian political camp” is no longer valid” (

[4. Since we worked these comments from the French version, we noticed this one translated “ marked difference ”, which is also utilized in the Italian version, “ netta differenza ”, by « une différence de nature » [a difference of nature]. Even though without any class characterization of this “nature”, one can suppose it is “class nature”, this formulation is more precise according to us than the English and Italian ones.

[5. We are obliged to point out here that the Italian version uses tradimento, which translates into English as betrayal and into French as trahison.

[6. Isn’t it precisely this vagueness of the platform that allowed the integration and maintenance for some twenty years of members who had not really broken with Maoism and Anarchism and who constituted the first Canadian ICT group, the IWG, with practices and interventions that were leftist, sometime even dubious, and that ended up in the confusion and some unfortunate discredit of the ICT itself in the Montreal’s political milieu?

[7. On Minneapolis: Police Brutality & Class Struggle, leaflet distributed by the comrades (

[8. More seriously, the question which had been posed at the time of the strike called by the Catalan independentists in October 2017 rises again on this occasion: is it possible that a movement of a non-proletarian, nationalist and petty-bourgeois nature can be transformed into a class movement under the impulse of the revolutionary party? Historically, the Italian Left had settled this question in the negative.

[9. In our discussions with contacts who are approaching with a view to joining our group, we systematically discuss the ICT and ICC platforms. No doubt we will have the opportunity to come back to the latter – its original version – which is marked by the weight of the councilist origins of this organisation and which the current version based on the opportunist decomposition theory has only worsened.