The below article was written during work with comrades from IWCA, about 20 years ago. Unfortunaltey it is still valid in relation to many organisations and individuals that hold similar views.
For example Turkish movement (of June 2013) threw up many a similar views in relation to organisation and program. Thus this article could be of use to those organisations and individuals who participated in this movement and hold similar views.
A. THE ORGANISATIONAL WORK.
We are told that IWCA is community orientated and in time will be community based.
It seems that trade unionism has failed; that most of the workers are not unionised, that unions are not organising the unemployed and therefore there is a political vacuum which if the left does not fill, the right will.
That is no ground for this policy.
Why? For this simple reason that, without an interaction between the class and its Party, neither the class nor the party can develop. Without this interaction the connection between the party and the class cannot be established. Without that connection either the party cannot achieve power or cannot preserve it. We are of course talking of the party of the proletarians, which is the political means for the proletarians to achieve power.
Where is the class? Where is the mass of the class? In the unions. Indeed only through the unions can the party exercise the proletarian dictatorship. History has not given us any other way of doing it. Surely, in formulating our policies, experience of the class, past and present, are the facts we have to rely on.
We must look for other reasons to see as to why this policy was formulated.
If we look at the comrades who form the IWCA and its sponsors we see that they are also part of the communities they are talking of. If we look at the history of their struggle, we see that they are finding it as good as impossible to break the stranglehold of the Trade Union bureaucracy in organising the working class in Trade unions.
These are the real grounds, which give rise to this policy. Theorizing on the basis of the narrow conditions you find yourselves in, you come up with the idea that the thing to do is to be community oriented and be, in time, community based, not trade union based.
Certainly, not to utilise the work of the comrades who find themselves in such conditions would be wrong. Their natural conditions, so to speak, avail them of achieving the most in organising the working class in “communities”(the ethnic minorities, the unemployed, workers in small enterprises and offices etc.) they should of course work there. Comrades have to work in conditions that connect them to the masses and if the comrades whom IWCA can reach are the ones who are “stuck” “in the communities”, you must certainly find the modes of organisation and action which are most suitable to those conditions and leave no grounds for the enemies of the working class to work in, leave them no vacuum to fill.
Indeed, if we are going to be the ones who are going to organise the working class to achieve power and we find ourselves “stuck in the communities”, what choices do we have but to start there. There is nothing wrong in starting where we have to start and we can start, so long as we know what we want to achieve, and understand that so long as we end up being “stuck in the communities”, we are going nowhere. If, of course, our ultimate aim is to achieve the political power of the working class.
Say, community work is where I can achieve the best results and this is where I shall work to achieve the best results and yet, so long as the organised section of the class is dominated by the trade unionists, if we can not break their monopoly and find ways and means of doing so, we are as good as doomed.(Maybe, and that is a big maybe, this work in the communities could give us these means of breaking their monopoly. Although, the work in the communities could most certainly not give us any such means if it is carried out with the above comprehension of our work in the class.
Say, I have an aim-that of assuming power- and I know the place that will occupy my work in achieving this aim; that this community orientated work is but a part of the whole which must be done and I will do it to achieve our common aim. Do not say the whole work must be community based and leave the trade unions, trade union organisations, to the bourgeoisie. Just because you have not been able to do it, you have not been able to break the stranglehold of the bourgeois trade unionists in the trade unions it does not mean that achieving this is not the most important, the determining element of our work in the class.
This does not negate the importance of the work you are talking of, nor does it hide the fact that as unemployment continue to rise, as the flight of the workers from the unions continue, it will become more and more important. But it certainly does not mean that we should take part in encouraging the flight of the workers from the unions. It does not mean that we must organise them not in the unions but in the “community organisations”. We must organise the workers in the unions and brake the domination of the unions by the bourgeois trade unionists. We either do that or we are nothing. There is no class we can rely on but the proletarians in this country, and there is no better mass organisation for them but the unions.
By the way, this idea of yours is not new or original History is full of people who proposed similar ideas. About 20 years ago, a Communist Party of England-ML (presently known as RCPB-ML) was proposing to pull the workers out of the unions (for the unions are “bourgeois”) and organise them in their “proletarian” “united front” organisations? CPE-ML has changed its name, but you still cannot see much of them, as they remain small. On the other hand, all through the last 20 years, the unions were very much visible. They have an historical base and are well rooted in the class. In spite of some of their leader’s dastardly acts, they remain visible, they remain big and they are the most important mass organisations of the class. Even the bourgeoisie cannot do anything about it. They cannot destroy them, that is why they adapted themselves to the unions and the unions to themselves.
Do not make a theory (for the class) based on your own necessity. If you do, you are bound to fail. I’m sure you do not want that.
B. THE PROGRAM
IWCA’s policy is to have no program.
We are told that, this way, “the sponsors’ collective will” is not imposed on the class and thus the class can “self-determine” itself.
The cheek of these people called Marx and Engels, imposing “the sponsors’ collective will” on the class! For, after all, what is the “Communist Manifesto” if not a program?
It is the same with you. You may declare that the self determination of the class means we do not go to them with a program, that the program is formed in time, through their participation in resistance-or whatever-, but the fact remains that it is you who have formulated this totally “tailist” idea of “self determination”. And thus you have also damaged your own idea of self determination of the class, for you have presented to them “the sponsors’ collective will” on the subject matter of self determination, have you not?.
Either take no ideas to the class-and thus remain true to your idea of self determination (then the bourgeoisie ideas continue to prevail), or take proletarian, Marxist ideas to the class(then you begin to overcome the bourgeoisie ideology in the class). There is no other road, and taking wrong ideas to the class, such as the one you have on “self determination”, only help preserve the bourgeoisie ideology. Surely, you don’t want do that.
So, this is no real ground for not having a program.
If IWCA sees the fact that its ideas on self determination of the class is wrong and gets rid of it, we would still see IWCA defending the policy of no program, for although the ideas on self determination provides some sort of theoretical ground for this policy, the real reason behind this policy is very much practical.
As a matter of fact, it is not true that IWCA has no program.
First of all, in the midst of declaring that IWCA has no program, lies a program: It is to unite anti-Labour activists, revolutionaries of many and varied views for common action. It is to build a left organisation, which can be an alternative to the possible shift in the working class to the extreme right. Therefore, not having a program, building the program in time through the involvement of those who take part in resistance in the community is a means to achieve this aim.
In other words, you do have a program as defined above. There goes your policy of no program. There goes, your ideas on self determination-for yet again, you are imposing the “sponsors’ collective will” on the class.
How could you?
Or rather, the fact that, in politics, it is impossible to avoid imposing the “sponsors’ collective will” must have become obvious to the comrades by now. They have not been able to avoid it themselves. No one can. Even the Anarchists, after all this time, have not yet been able to find the magic formula that will help them avoid “sponsors’ collective will” and therefore, to avoid that “damned” state.
Furthermore, the sponsors of IWCA also have their own programs. Just because certain views held by these groups are not declared as part of their program, it does not negate the fact that they are part of their program.
Why then, is this program formulated as a policy of no program, of building a program relying on local experiences gained in the communities?
In the past, all the different groups fought over a program, over “programmatic issues”. Indeed single groups ended up dividing into two or more on programmatic issues, instead of uniting to do things on the ground. This experience coupled with one’s weakness in the face of huge problems facing us and the class-”the size of the task is a daunting one” indeed- leads to the conclusion that bringing people together around a common program is impossible-and yet we must come together. Therefore: No program.
Yet again, a policy has been formulated based on the conditions comrades find themselves in, but not based on the needs of the class as a whole.
First of all, not having a program is nothing good, especially when it is itself turned into a program, into a theory; when it is declared that it is the way forward; when it is declared that it is the local comrades who will come up with the program during their local struggles and relying on their local experiences. What is forgotten is the simple fact that Karl Marx’s socialism has become a science and has to be treated as one. Experiences of local comrades (especially the experiences of those who are orientated towards the community and away from the unions) are not nearly enough to formulate our program. The whole wealth of the class struggle, past and present, in this country and internationally has to be taken into account when a program is being formulated.
Therefore, the idea that the program will be built through the experiences of the community based local comrades etc. is no ground for a policy of no program.
Secondly, class struggle inevitably leads to a struggle for the program. There is no avoiding it. Political struggle is a struggle of ideas, which are used to organise the class. The world is yet to see a political organisation without political views and therefore without a program of a sort. IWCA has one, its sponsors have theirs. It is simply impossible to avoid having political ideas once one is involved in politics. The moment you say politics you also say political ideas and therefore a program of a sort exists. To be engaged in politics and not to have political ideas and a program of a sort is impossible. And therefore not to have a struggle of these ideas is also impossible.
Therefore, this policy of no program, if it is formulated to unite all the different tendencies, cannot be sustained. It is bound to lead to a clash of ideas, and thus to the break up of the unity.
Therefore, one should find better methods of uniting all these different groups. One that does not lead to disillusionment.
Therefore, two different methods should be utilised at the same time.
1- unity of action on practical issues.
2- struggle of ideas on national-international policies of the class, on questions of the program.
Only then can a unity based on the best political ideas incorporating the experiences of the comrades gained during the struggle can be achieved.
One must also be aware of the fact that, most of the time, it is simply impossible to unite these groupings, precisely because of their political ideas, their inability to look at the class struggle of the proletariat as a whole and thus their inability to comprehend their own role in this struggle.
After all is said, I am not in the least bit opposed to bringing all these groupings together in the localities to do something together without a program.
Yes, indeed, I have nothing against this policy so long as those who formulate it and practise it do not come up with all sorts of wrong policies and theories to justify it. Trial and error is a valid mode of learning. Nothing wrong in trying.
A) do not say being community orientated and being community based is the thing to do, say I am community based and community oriented, there is not much else I can do.
B) do not say not having a program and/or building it through the experience of the community based local comrades is the thing to do, say there is not much else I can do.
C) do therefore say that you shall study the history of the working class movement in all countries and draw the necessary scientific conclusions to be able to see and to show the future to the workers
D) do therefore say that not only will you organise the revolutionaries around a communist program, that as you gain strength, you shall, as you have to, find ways and means of breaking the domination of the trade unionists in the trade union movement.
Then this no program business does not become a theory but a temporary means of achieving a temporary aim. The aim of trying to unite different groups.