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Report from the IMT February 2010 IEC (in full)

posted 22 Nov 2011, 15:17 by Admin uk   [ updated 7 Feb 2013, 04:00 ]

To the IS, the IEC and all members of the Internatonal Marxist Tendency ( http://www.marxist.com )

Report from the February 2010 IEC

by Martin Lööf and Jonathan Clyne, IEC members from Sweden

 

The IEC meeting has given us a clear picture of the direction in which the IS and the international is heading organisationally and politically after the Spanish split.

 

The main conclusion drawn by the IS is that the reason for the split was laxity on their part. It is true that they have been sloppy for years. However, what they fail to understand completely is that this is a political and not an organisational question. The Spanish leadership, unlike the IS have been well organised for years.  To be organised is obviously a good thing. However, the Spanish leadership has been reliant on the international for political guidance. They spent a lot of time and effort on organisation, but not on developing politically. 

 

This division of labour, which was also encouraged by the IS, worked for some time. But then something happened. The political analysis of the IS started to decline, and when the Spanish discovered this after a few years when Ted became too sick to really contribute, they saw no reason why they could not produce bombastic formulas themselves. They realised they had no real need of the IS at all. It was just a drain on their resources, and what is the point in having to put up with being the perpetually bullied pupils of Alan?

 

The IS refuses to acknowledge that the main reason for the split is its own political weakness. After all, they are “standing on the shoulders of giants” and therefore possessing the magic wand, the method of Marxism”. They act as if Marxism is a number of set formulas, not a method that constantly has to be applied in new situations, a process that is both time-consuming and difficult, and something that Ted always did for them. So, the only conclusion they are able to draw is that the problem is that they did not have complete organisational control over the Spanish leadership.

 

This means that the IMT is in for a period in which the already 'top-down' method of leadership will be even more pronounced. They are going to reinforce the international centre at all cost. Because they have lost a large proportion of their income, they will have to sack one full-timer and cut back on a whole number of other things. But their aim is to employ a new full-timer by the end of the year and they will go all-out to achieve that. This will be at the expense of everything else. Already now they are raising the international subs by 10% and for the first time ever all sections in the Third World will have to pay subs too.

 

And that is just the beginning. The sections will be sealed off from one another, unless contact is made under the auspices of the IS or their local loyalist. Every decision about the work that affects anything at all international (and many national decisions) will have to pass through the international centre. The same type of regime will be instituted in the sections, with the branches not being allowed to have contact with each other without permission from the EC. This is the real meaning of having to go through “the correct democratic channels”. Some sections will deal with this more intelligently and flexible, but most won't.

 

This organisational turn goes hand in hand with a political turn. Deep entrism will be the policy. This is not how it is presented, but it is the logical consequence of the new line. The other reoccurring reason, apart from laxity, given for the degeneration of the Spanish leadership is that it has not done consistent entry work. Therefore, in order to distinguish the IMT from the Spanish/Latins, they are putting an enormous emphasis on entry work. This is also the result of a shift in the balance of forces within the international from the Spanish section to the Italian.

 

It is false that the present-day situation in what used to be the Spanish section, is due to a lack of entry work. The Spanish were expelled from the Socialist Party in the second half of the seventies and have not done consistent entry work since then. On the other hand, the degeneration of the British section during the eighties happened after decades of consistent work in the Labour Party and long before we were pushed out of the Labour Party. We had a lot of very important work there when it was decided to make a 'turn'.

 

But again, because they cannot point to the real cause of what happened in Spain, they must point to an imagined one. And make up an imaginary way forward. Back to the seventies is the tune of the day. Secret entry work.

 

The work is not secret in the sense that we don't openly put forward our programme in a paper. But the organisation itself is secret. There is a fear that if the bureaucracy is aware of us being “entryist”, we will be expelled.  In one case, we first publicly dissolved the organisation and then re-emerged within a party. However, this is not the seventies. The traditions of the Cold War when everybody had secret factions in the Labour Party has been almost wiped out. Then it was accepted by workers as a necessity born out of a war like situation. Today the workers parties are weak with few active members. The bureaucracies are weak. Because of this there is less of a need to be secret. On the contrary, it is counter-productive. It makes any defence against bureaucratic attacks much more difficult. This is something we have experienced in Sweden. If we are open about everything the leadership cannot produce enough hysteria to be able to expel us. Actually, open entrism, the entrism suggested by Trotsky, has never been more accessible than today in most places. 

 

However, there is an important difference to the thirties. Because there is not much of a leftward moving rank-and-file at this stage, our main work in the parties consists of using our membership in these parties to initiate campaigns, connect to workers struggles, and help our union work. By being members of the mass organisations we can reach out to workers on the move outside. That will bring workers into the parties and strengthen our position in the parties, which in turn will give us even greater chances of reaching out to workers struggles. This is the real preparation for a future radicalisation which will bring new layers of radicalized workers into the mass organisations.  But this is obviously something that has to be discussed in detail from place to place. 

 

This is not the perspective of the IS for the work, nor is it how we generally work in France and Italy. Our main emphasise there is for campaigns within the party. There is nothing wrong with a campaign for a socialist programme within the party. We should take part in the ideological struggle within the parties we are active in. But because these parties are quite small, with few active workers in them, our main aim should be to get the party to connect to workers in struggle outside the parties.

 

Today, the labour bureaucracy can accept a Marxist current that talks about socialism and Marxism. They may even find it amusing. However, a tendency that challenges the parliamentary forms of the party, one could say the “correct democratic channels”, is a different matter. Bringing workers struggle outside the party into the party and taking the party to the struggle outside, is definitely frowned upon. That is a tougher task, but it is essential. Otherwise, there is a clear risk of an adaption to the bureaucracy. We cannot win by playing the bureaucrats game better than them.

 

In the seventies we always based ourselves on the radicalised workers that were joining the mass parties. Now we must mainly base ourselves on the radicalised workers that are outside the mass parties. If we do not do this, our entrist work will lead to opportunism. This can already be seen in Italy where Sonia Previato is standing in a regional election without any transitional demands. Instead the focus of her campaign is that she is an ordinary working women, which she is not after sixteen years as a full-timer. (See Sosteniamo Sonia Previato on Facebook)

 

Compared to the seventies, the IS is putting forward one major change to the entrist work. Everybody should do work in the communist parties or ex-communist parties, in so far as they exist, and not in the social-democratic parties. Now the Italian model (the result of 18 years work) is to be exported, in the unthinking manner that has become the norm.

 

In the main, the communist and ex-communist parties are small and disintegrating. Yet now we are supposed to be extremely loyal to these parties. In the seventies, we clearly identified ourselves with the Labour Party or the Social Democratic Parties, because that was identifying ourselves with the broad layers of the working class that were in these parties or supported them. To be more 'communist' than the orthodox Stalinists in the Communist Parties today, is simply identifying ourselves with a dead tradition and a present-day insignificant bureaucracy. Yet this is what we are doing in France and Italy, even opposing electoral alliances with other left parties because that would be “liquidationism”. (What we heard is that in France we recently changed our line. But only after it was clear that there were so few in favour of the PCF standing alone in the elections, that it would have left us completely isolated). This is sectarianism.

 

This loyalty to the Communist Party will also lead to opportunism. Especially as most sections are not at all equipped to do entrist work today. The main pre-condition for such work, a high political level, is not there. In the seventies we had comrades that could debate any political question with facts and arguments, picking up on what was actually said by our opponents and in a calm and friendly way explaining our ideas. That will not be possible today, especially considering that the turn in the internal regime will reduce the internal discussions, the pre-condition for raising the level. Therefore there will be a tendency for on the one hand taking positions (not difficult at all today) without having won the political argument, and on the other hand, to just act as megaphones putting forward some basic slogans, and thereby isolating oneself.

 

The paradox is that in Britain the leadership of the Tendency  will not decisively turn to the Labour Party, despite some lip-service, because it is not a Communist Party. Instead the main focus is, and will remain, on paper-selling on the streets. All forces to the point of attack! No double orientation! Those are the main slogans of the IS today. That should be applied internationally as well as nationally. Now the international will try to present itself as a communist international. The same thing in Eastern Europe. Hang on to anything that is remotely connected to the old communist parties. Never mind that in most East European countries they are small sects, bourgeois parties, or even anti-semitic nationalist parties, as in Russia today. And where there are absolutely no remnants of the CP, then the orientation should be to a myriad of tiny sects, instead of orientating to the trade unions and workers struggle.

 

A major problem for the Tendency is the difference between what we argue for in the labour movement and what the rules are inside the IMT. Inside the labour movement we argue for our right to exist as a separate tendency with our own paper. We are not so concerned about the “correct democratic channels” there either. And we demand to know what the leadership is really deciding behind closed doors. Within the IMT it is almost impossible to form a faction, opposing views are given a hard time. And we have a very formal approach to raising differences. When the bureaucracy in the labour movement find out about this, which they always do at some stage, they  get all the ammunition against us they need. They attack us for being hypocrites who complain about the rules inside the labour movement but have stricter rules within our own organisation. This contradiction also leads to a fear of internal information being revealed to our enemies. Since it is even less possible in this day and age to seal off the IMT from the rest of the world, an inordinate amount of time has to be spent searching for the “enemy within” who reveals our secrets.

 

The tightening of the internal regime and the orientation to secret work in the CP's, lead inexorably to paranoia within the Tendency. As comrades cannot be trusted, the leadership must control everything in detail. And because the work is 'secret', nothing about what is going on in the Tendency must leak out. Security, instead of politics, has become the thing which they are using to keep the organisation together.  The detailed report below of the hate sessions at the IEC show this beyond a shadow of a doubt.

 

The banning of our faction (because our platform was not considered good enough...by those it criticised!), the suggestion that we might be allowed to form a faction only once we had been voted down all over the place (after “debates” in sections that we were not allowed to participate in), the expulsion of Heiko (without him being given a chance to defend himself) and the Iranian section (because they supposedly exposed two comrades to the Iranian state, who in actual fact are public political figures on for example facebook), the forbidding of factional material on facebook and “indiscriminate” emails, the behaviour during the IEC, the placing of us (Jonathan and Martin) “outside the organisation” because we left the IEC meeting, all show that the IMT is un-reformable. Events during and around the IEC finally proved this. The reply to our platform set the tone. The IS is incapable of leading by political authority. Up until the Spanish split there was a progressive decline in the political capacity of the IS. The split could have provided the opportunity for a regeneration that we were hoping for, but instead the IS used the opportunity to jump into the abyss. 

 

Internally the IS is well on its way to creating a regime where all opposition is seen as an enemy, and externally it is heading the wrong way. The IMT is incapable of adjusting to modern times. The leadership has converted our entrist work in the 70s into a formula. It cannot analyse what is happening in China, it does not understand what has happened in Eastern Europe, it can't relate to the working class in Western Europe (where are the party loyalist workers that the IS refers to?). The IS talks about real workers in the factories, but is not even aware that computers are used on a daily basis by a large part of the modern working class, both at work and at home. Since internet creates “security” problems, they will not use the modern means of communications to the extent that it is possible to do. 

 

In 1933,  there was no self-criticism from the Comintern or its national sections after Hitler came to power and destroyed the KPD. The leadership’s conclusion was that the “general line” had been correct. Trotsky drew the conclusion that the Communist International was dead. And that was a mass international!  When Alan in his lead-off at the IEC implied that the setback in Spain, Venezuela, Mexico and Colombia was a positive development it should ring a bell. When a leadership is not even able to call a major setback a setback, a new international organisation must be built.

 

What we do next should be dictated not by looking back and attempting in vain to reform the IMT, but by looking forward at what kind of organisation we want and need. We should be an open and completely honest organisation. We should have the same rules within our organisation as we want for the whole movement. We are based on the Marxist tradition (that distinguishes us), but we use it as a method to apply intelligently to the modern existing world. This is what we should be, and we should project this from the start.

 

We should not be born into the world as another one in an endless row of splits in the Trotskyist movement. A split filled with the usual acrimony, accusations of betrayal, obscure quotations, show trials, antiquated language, and above all - expulsions. Those kind of splits are incomprehensible to most workers and young people. They will wonder how we could ever come to join an organisation like that. Nothing good can come out of it.

 

In Sweden and Poland we also have the situation that we have been fighting for years to establish ourselves with a serious and honest image in the Labour Movement, because we are serious and honest. Now we are beginning to reap the benefits of this and we do not want it torn down.

 

The International Bolshevik Faction, together with anybody else who can and wants to, should begin preparing the grounds with the prospective of building an alternative international organisation. This is going to take time. We should not be sloppy. We should discuss things through carefully, peacefully and thoroughly. Going over issue after issue on the intranet, at meetings, telephone calls etc, before announcing the formation of a new organisation. We want to create a serious alternative, not a gathering for random ex-members of the IMT. We should not waste time on meaningless struggles against a bureaucratic regime in the IMT, but get start doing something positive now. If we do this, we will create a solid and successful organisation. Therefore we should not wait to get expelled, but after a process of democratic discussion, vote to disaffiliate from the IMT. We should make a simple statement that we are leaving because the organisation that we once joined no longer exists. That although there remain good and honest comrades there, that we hope will join us when we show that we can create a living organisation, we must begin the constructing of an alternative. In our opinion, the IMT has no future.

 

We should never leave the Labour Movement voluntarily. We should always fight every inch. We should always let ourselves get expelled, because we want to signal to the working class that we want to be a part of it. But the Labour Movement is something else. It is the organised expression of the working class. The IMT has become just another Trotskyist group,  that has placed itself outside of Trotskyism, in the sense that it in practice bans organised disagreement with the leadership. As a matter of fact, outside of Pakistan (where we will probably never know what the real membership is and even more unlikely actually communicate with them) there are today about 1200-1300 members in all. Of which perhaps half are active. It would be dishonest to pretend that we think it worth remaining in the IMT, by waiting around until we follow in the Iranian comrades foot steps and get expelled.

 

Leaving and beginning the construction of a viable Marxist organisation will make us a pole of attraction for those that we want to win from the IMT – the serious activists who want to know that there is a living alternative before abandoning the organisation they have been fighting for years. A typical “Trotskyist” faction struggle will mean that most of these comrades will become demoralised and end up leaving politics. Given the hostile pressure building up inside the IMT, we probably have a better chance of reaching them from the outside. Then they do not have to sit in the crossfire, an experience that normally demoralises comrades. They can follow our development and ideas (through the internet!) and compare that to the IMT and then make a choice.

 

Furthermore, a long factional struggle risks demoralising comrades. The bureaucrats will use any methods available in this struggle – lying, blackmail, threats, bribery, whatever.  Anything but a real discussion about the real issues. They would rather destroy the organisation than let us take over. We cannot win against such methods in a small organisation with no roots in the working class. They have all the advantages, because we refuse to use the same methods. The longer we stay, the more they will demoralise comrades. Not politically, but psychologically. Comrade will be turned against comrade. Friend against friend. For a period of time a factional struggle could act like a snort of cocaine, giving a high. But afterwards comes the depression, when faced with the task of having to construct a new organisation. That is how it was in 1992. What we need instead is positive creative energy that goes from strength to strength.

 

In some places there are branches which are sympathetic to our ideas. There the best thing is to take a collective decision to leave and start working for a new organisation. And produce a statement about this to the remaining members, appealing to them to follow suit.

 

Some comrades think that the tactic which we are putting forward here is an emotional reaction to an unpleasant experience at the IEC meeting. Of course, what happened there was not what you would normally expect in a revolutionary organisation. But it was not unexpected for us that attended. Things developed approximately as we had discussed before the IEC. For Jonathan it was not unfamiliar either. It was similar to what happened in 91-92 and when we got expelled from the Swedish Young Socialists in 1982, not to mention numerous smaller incidents when fighting the Swedish bureaucracy. We were therefore well-prepared for the the IEC meeting. We remained completely calm and on the offensive throughout (which probably enraged them even more). 

 

We should avoid empty gestures like 'fighting to the end'. That costs more than it gives. We have no need to prove our 'macho' credibility. We need to think afresh and break the old “Trotskyist” mould of splits. We should act offensively, not just defensively.

 

In early 1938, Ted and eight other comrades walked out of the Militant, the main Trotskyist group in Britain at the time, because of the use of slander against one of the members. They established the Workers International League and within a few years most Trotskyists in Britain and many new workers were united under their leadership in the Revolutionary Communist Party. Ted explained clearly that they would have wasted their time trying to reform the Militant. We should be inspired by Ted's, to our mind, bold step in walking out.

 

Of course, our leaving will be used against those that stay. But then it makes no difference what we do, they will always find arguments against us, however contrived. Comrades who remain should use our leaving as an argument against the leadership: 'The lack of real democracy in the organisation is causing splits and walk-outs. It is time to call a halt, before the organisation disintegrates even more.'  That is no tactical manoeuvre. It is the truth.

 

The IMT is rotting from the head downwards. We do not want to be members there. We want to create a real revolutionary international organisation. Honesty should always be at the centre of any tactical considerations, as honesty in the long run is what works best. It arms comrades with a clear understanding of what they are trying to achieve and why.

 

If our main aim is to expose the leadership, we already have more than enough ammunition to do so. Instead, we can focus on starting something new. Reaching good comrades who are in the IMT is a concrete thing. We can do so from the outside via the internet, but above all by example. It is better to leave with our heads held high after a proper democratic discussion. That is what we believe. But we don’t want to leave as an individual stand. We want the decision to be made collectively by the Swedish section and by other comrades in the opposition.

 

Below is another report from the IEC meeting – it takes up the witch hunt at the IEC rather than focusing on the political aspects of the IEC meeting. The two aspects are of course closely related.

 

The witch hunt

 

"I have seen these methods before. This is Healyism! This is Cannonism! This is Stalinism!"

Ted during the CWI split, 1991-1992

 

From the IBF four comrades took part in the IEC. Jonathan, full member of the IEC (Sweden). Martin, alternate member (Sweden). Wojtek and Amin, guest (Poland and Iran).  Amin only attended the session on Iran.

 

We went to the IEC with our platform Forward to democratic centralism! and the hope that a proper debate would take place.  In addition, the IBF had agreed on a “unity resolution” to present to the IEC during the discussion on democratic centralism. In the resolution we made a number of proposals to avoid a split in the IMT. Above all that we would be given factional rights on the condition that we would abide by democratic decisions and work loyally in the IMT up to the world congress. Our resolution was based on different resolutions that were the policy of the SWP in the famous factional struggle in the late thirties in the USA. The resolutions of SWP were written in close contact with Trotsky. Alan and Fred rejected this resolution as “blackmail”.

 

We expected that we would be in for a rough time at the IEC. So we were not surprised that, after a “gentle” sarcastic prodding start, the IEC moved from one hate session to another to push us towards making a self-criticism and removing some of our strongest criticism. These sessions were accompanied by a flood of resolutions and statements to tie us up and make it close to impossible to argue for our ideas. On Thursday evening we decided that it was pointless to stay in the meeting. On Friday morning we made a declaration and walked out of the meeting. We have written this report to show all members why we made this decision.

 

During the IEC a mood of hysteria and paranoia was built up. The main means of doing this was to whip up a feeling that the organisation was under attack. The “enemy within” was a threat to the organizations and that the only “responsible” thing to do is to remove the threat. Anything else was deemed “completely irresponsible”.

 

To create a paranoid mood, some chock effects were needed. Suddenly new information had to be brought up and circulated. Surprise sessions were held after long days of discussions. Nobody was warned beforehand about what the extra sessions were about. Everybody felt under pressure to get up and condemn “the enemy”. Neutrality was not allowed. The mood in the meeting went from bad to worse. A bidding began – who can damn the enemy the most, who can come up with the most restrictive resolution.

 

Some comrades got frightened and just wanted it to stop so that the meeting could 'get back to normality'. But the only way out presented to them was to fall into line to get rid of the “enemy” as quickly as possible. Once this hysterical process began, it was not possible to go back to normality. 

 

The constant stream of lies and threats, the closed-in atmosphere, the long sessions, the emphasis on the “attacks” against the organisation disorientated comrades who normally would not be carried along. The whole process was a carbon copy of the methods employed by the bureaucracy in the Labour Movement in extreme circumstances.

Day 1 Monday - World perspective

Alan led off on world perspectives. In his speech he made sarcastic comments on all issues that would be discussed during the IEC. Alan explained to us that “there was no faction”.  He explained that the split-off groups in Spain, Venezuela, Mexico and Colombia were ex-comrades. (The first time this was made official). He presented the split in the international not as a setback for the IMT but as something positive. It was presented as something normal - “ a man goes through crisis, it is normal in life”.

 

In Alan's summing up he said that the faction’s claim that the IMT was lead by a “monstrous totalitarian “ bureaucracy had no base. (We had never used any expression even near that to describe the IS). The he spent the largest part of the summing-up ridiculing a caricature of Jonathan's position on China. He also spent considerable time on claiming that the orientation of the work in Eastern Europe was incorrect, because we had not orientated sufficiently to the Communist Parties.

 

The Austrian IEC members handed out a resolution where they explained that they would not send material to the IEC since it could be leaked by some IEC members.

 

The world perspective discussion continued after dinner.

Day 2 Tuesday - The split in the IMT

The IS covered up their own responsibility for supporting the Spanish EC for many years. They denied on several times promoting the Spanish section as a model. They said it was a lie that the IS tried to set up a secret faction in Spain with ex-comrades. It was claimed that the expulsion of the Municio group was accepted because “they did not appeal for re-admission”. Furthermore it was said that the question of the internal regime in Spain could not be raised earlier because “people do not understand that kind of thing” and the leadership has to “help members understand and take them with you gradually”. It was stated that the leadership must lead and therefore members should not receive all information because then the organisation would become a “discussion club”, that information was there to “help build and inspire the membership”. That the sending out of emails had created “panic and insecurity”.

 

During the day alarmist reports were made that the intranet and the Facebook discussion group was sabotaging the work of the sections. The intranet “was the beginning of the end of the international” and that the CIA gained an enormous amount of information from Facebook.

 

The International Bolshevik faction was accused of being a ”self-appointed group”. (How can a faction be anything but self-appointed? Should the leadership decide who has a particular opinion?)

 

Manzoor was in the pay of the Pakistani state and secret service. We were helping him. In addition, we were “giving a present to the Polish secret police”. And we risked destroying the work in one country for “ten to twenty years”.  At times it seemed the session was not about the split in the IMT but about the Swedish section. Jonathan was accused of manoeuvring for the last six months.

 

By a peculiar logic the blame for everything bad in the Tendency was put on us. Because we are guilty of pointing out the many contradictions in what the IS is saying and doing we are demoralising people left, right and centre.

 

Ted and Alan pointed out in 1992 in Against bureaucratic centralism in whose interest the argument about security is used.

 

“The fact is that the argument about “security” has been used to violate internal democracy and keep vital information from being distributed. It is not a weapon against the labour bureaucracy, but against the rank and file.”

 

In the end of the day it was reported that an evening session on internal security and democracy would be held after dinner. We received no information about what the content of this session was going to be.

 

Extra session on internal security and democracy

 

The session was introduced by Greg. In his lead-off he managed to combine saying that he is known for being mild and at the same time he threatened us with expulsion. IEC members and visitors went up and said that our activity was sabotage of the international. Earlier Ubaldo from Mexico described how the old leadership in Mexico dealt with political opponents; they ridiculed them as a first step to expelling them. That was exactly how the meeting was.  We were called babyish by Greg because we don’t understand the ABC's of Marxism.  We were given 24 hours to close down the intranet and the Facebook group. It was a difficult choice. In the end we decided to follow the resolution and we asked the members of the faction to follow the decision.

 

What was the Facebook group? It was an internal group on Facebook, where only those that where invited had access. As Jonathan pointed out, in the last faction meetings we asked comrades to wait with setting up the Facebook group so that we had some guide-lines for how this was supposed to work.  The intranet had a no more than 50 people with access, and the Facebook group had 35 people.

 

Theoretically the bureaucracy in the labour movement and the state could get access to our internal documents from this. But that is a very paranoid description of the situation. The dumbest bureaucrat or police could easily go into our homepages and find out that we are doing entrist work in different organizations just by reading History of British Trotskyism and seeing who has links to www.marxist.com.

 

If they want to get our internal material they can easily send someone in as a member (there are no security checks on who becomes a member), as they have often done in the past.  The real problem is that there is no forum where rank and file comrades in the IMT can discuss with each other in-between World Congresses, especially if one is forbidden to form a faction. Another big problem is that the “democratic structures” are in the hands of the IS. During the IEC there was plenty of talk that the amount of the oppositions material that should be sent to members should be limited. “I don't have time to read 500 pages” and “ a worker who comes home from work tired doesn't want to read such a lot”. In the past year most of the IEC discussion material about the Spanish conflict was not distributed further than the national leaderships, whose task was then to verbally interpret the material for ordinary members. On the other hand, the IS feels free to start a one-sided public campaign on Marxist.com against our position claiming that we are anarchists.

Day Three - Iran

Alan had written an insulting letter filled with distortions about the Iranian sections position to Razi. Razi had written a reply. There was some discussion about why Razi's statement had not been sent to all IEC members. Alan exclaimed that it should not be sent out to all IEC members, because Razi had not come to the IEC. Nobody questioned Alan's outburst. So, a full member of the IEC can't send out letters to the IEC if Alan doesn’t like it.

 

A debate between Jordi and Amin took place. A lot of fuss was made about the fact that Razi had boycotted the IEC meeting and about his “tone”. There were accusations that the Iranian section was allied with the ex-comrades. At one stage Alan said that Razi was probably in Madrid, supposedly meeting Juan Ignacio. This was another example of the paranoia during the IEC meeting. The Iranian section and Amin were accused of being workerist, sectarian, rigid, mechanical, petit-chauvinist,  un-dialectical, lecturing workers, not being able to build anything in 300 years, pretending to be what they are not, talking third worldist trash, and only having 2 members in Iran and 4 outside. This was the same section that had been highly praised when they were voted into the IMT at the world congress just a year and a half ago.

 

Razi published a letter where he criticized Chavez for supporting Ahmadinejad, Iran's fundamentalist leader, and condemning the popular movement as “counter-revolutionary”. It was claimed by Jordi that Razi's letter “could destroy all our careful work” in Venezuela. That “the bureaucracy could use it to attack us” and expel comrades from Venezuela. And despite Amin referring to films on youtube showing demonstrations in Iran chanting slogans against  Chavez, the Iranian section was accused of a “cruel fabrication” when it said that there was an anti-Chavez mood in Iran after Chavez embraced Ahmadinejad.

 

Alan demanded that Amin would say how many comrades were working secretly in Iran.

 

After the session Amin was informed that he was not allowed to stay in the meeting. Other visitors  had no restrictions on what sessions they could attend.

Democratic centralism

If the session on Iran had some resemblance to a political discussion, that was not the case with the one on democratic centralism. The session was more like cross-examination by the police. All kinds of questions was asked: What kind of relationship did we have with Pat Byrne and the Democratic platform? Why did one faction member call another comrade fascist at the Winter School? Why had somebody said that Alan Woods was crazy? How many members are in the faction? How many members were the in the EC's of the sections that supported the faction? At what level in the section were the supporters of the faction? We did our best to answer all the questions. Then we were accused of bringing down the level by just talking about who said what. On those questions where we couldn’t give a full answer (we were not given any chance to prepare our replies) we were told that we didn’t want to reply. In the middle of the debate we were told that we were dishonest for not wanting to debate. These were clear example of double-punishment – there are no right answers, whatever we said could be held against us – a classic method for people at the top of the hierarchy to control those below.

 

We were told that the platform of the opposition was “infused with the method of philosophical idealism” and that it referred to “universal abstract laws” because there were “no quotes”. Fred claimed that the political level of Jonathan's lead-off was very low. He felt no need to explain why.  It was said that we were trying to “inflict as much damage as possible” and that “expulsions are necessary as a means of self-defence against pollution”. It was “disgusting” that 5% were dominating 50% of “our time”. That “we were causing big problems” and that our “accusations of totalitarianism” had demoralised comrades and contacts.

 

A resolution was handed out from Alex from Canada where the Swedish EC was accused of lying when we said that he demanded access to Adam Fulsom's private correspondence with Heiko (something Adam has confirmed in writing). Accusations were made that we were responsible for the fact that Adam Fulsom became demoralised and left with a group in Ottawa because he received emails from us. Similar claims was later made by Fred that the Berlin branch collapsed due to our demoralizing effect. In reality, these comrades left because they felt that the leadership is out of touch with reality.

 

Alan said we were “trying to foment a crisis (in the international) where none existed”. And that “we can't just declare a faction, but if we persist there are limits to all things. Expulsions can be necessary.” After falsely claiming that Jonathan leaked everything to Heiko he said that “any comrade leaking information from the IEC, should be taken off the IEC mailing list”. He said there was an international campaign “of threats and blackmail”.

 

It was claimed that worker comrades “on the ground” had no interest in the discussion about democratic centralism and the split in Spain.

 

More accusations of  “petty-bourgeois views” were made from Serge from the section in Brazil that has recently joined. He put forward two resolutions. One for postponing the congress of the Swedish section until a perspectives document had been written and another resolution that our platform was full of “insults and slanders of the international and was not a basis for a political discussion, but an attack on the whole international – its structures, methods and policies” and that it “questions the foundations” of the international. We should therefore retract our criticism. He said that Jonathan should come and work in a factory in Brazil.

Day 4 – Mass organisations

Fred led off and explained the new turn of the IS. The “discussion” was used for more attacks on us. Tanvir told us that we are supporting both Manzoor and Zadari. Comrades started to say that it would not be possible to speak in the sessions in our presence since we could leak information to any one and that we should be made to leave.

 

Then came another surprise session during what was supposed to be our afternoon off.


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Expel Heiko Khoo session

They now tried to do everything to force us into submission and support the expulsions of Heiko. Once again psychological pressure  was used to try and force us say things that we didn't believe in. It was said that it was a matter of principle to vote in favour of Heikos expulsion. That this was necessary to protect the international. A paranoid resolution was presented. Alan said that Heiko is a “police provocateur”. When they had no more arguments they just used insults, Miguel from Spain called the faction “a whore house”. In vain we hoped that at least that remark would lead to some reactions from someone at the IEC, but he received loud applause. He also claimed that because of us 50 comrades from the majority had not joined the minority in Spain and said we were “mean and selfish and spiteful”. Tanvir said that Heiko had sent an email and then a comrade in Pakistan had died. The connection between the two events was never explained. It was proposed that the emails of the three oppositional EC's not receive emails from the IS and IEC and that they should be asked to leave the IEC.

 

The level of hysteria and paranoia was so great that when Jonathan received a text message to his phone and wrote a reply, Alex from Canada reported this suspect activity to the whole meeting and demanded that he reveal whom he was texting and about what. Alan exclaimed to the IEC that Jonathan was taking detailed notes and asked what he was going to do with them.

 

We were tricked into believing that Heiko had published all the audio files from the winter school on the internet (including contributions of comrades working in secret). In reality he had only published his own speech, although by using some nerdish technology it was possible to access all files. They wanted us to either say that we supported everything Heiko had done or that we would distance ourselves completely from Heiko. We were not prepared to do either. We explained that we were clearly opposed to the expulsion of Heiko, but as we didn’t support all his actions we would abstain. In retrospect, this was a mistake. We should have voted against the resolution. Now the IS is claiming completely dishonestly that we did not oppose Heiko's expulsion. In this loyalty test even the visitors voted. After that Rob Sewell explained that “the real IEC had voted” in favour of Heiko's expulsion.

 

Day 5 – Our departure

 

On Friday morning we went to the meeting in time. The first thing that happened was that Ana  tabled a resolution that Wojtek's recordings of the meeting should be wiped out. Wojtek is almost blind. He uses a white stick and for years he has recorded meetings he attends. It is his way of taking notes. The real reason why they confiscated the audio files was that it gave us evidence of the behaviour of the IS and the majority of the IEC. Last summer the IS complained about the hacking of emails. Now they were prepared to use similar kind of police methods. Ana told Wojtek that he would receive “the recordings that they saw fit”.

 

In addition, a group of resolutions was presented. Among other things our faction should be banned. Factional activity on Facebook was forbidden. The Winter school was condemned. The Iranian section should be kicked out. The IS was given a mandate to expel anybody immediately. The only means of increasing the pressure on us at that point was through the use of physical violence.

 

There was no point in remaining at the IEC meeting. Jonathan went up and declared:

“Well, comrades, unfortunately this IEC has proceeded in a manner which is both expected and familiar. I recognize it both from the last period in CWI and the last period in the Swedish Young Socialists. And we will leave the IEC now, because there is no point in continuing to be here. We will go out into the sunshine. We’ll have dinner tonight, we’ll have a laugh tonight, tomorrow morning we’ll get up and have a shower. And then based upon our firm convictions we will recommence the building of a revolutionary organization. Other people will leave the IEC with different attitudes. Some comrades will be pleased about what has happened this week. They will feel a sense of belonging and a sense of power and they will build nothing. I think the majority of comrades will be a bit disquieted. Maybe in one year, maybe in two years, maybe in five years, they will understand what has happened and I hope, at that point, they don’t draw the conclusion to leave revolutionary politics. Because that is the most common conclusion to draw at that point, but we must continue the struggle, and we certainly will be.”

Despite Martin and Wojtek explaining that leaving the meeting did not mean that we had had left the IMT, the IS has chosen to disseminate the myth that we have left. They claim this is proven  by Jonathan saying that we would “recommence the building of a revolutionary organization”. However, after reading this report it is not difficult to understand that after a four day witch hunt, we intended to do something better when we got home – build, which ought to be understood as something very different from leaving the IMT. Even after we sent an email explicitly stating that we remained members of the IMT, IS members have “informed” comrades that we have left.

 

The IS naturally denies what the real discussion at the IEC was like. They claim that it was a nice calm democratic discussion. However, we can prove that all the things mentioned above were said. Everyday Wojtek transferred his audio files to Martin's laptop. Only the last hour of the IEC meeting was eradicated from his recorder. We have no intention of publicising these recordings. We have no intention of disrupting the work of comrades who mistakenly think they have to work in secret. Nor do we not want to let it be known to the labour movement that we have been members of an organisation where the meetings of the leadership are a madhouse. However, any comrade who does not believe what we have written can listen to the recordings.

 

This report tells the truth about what happened at the IEC, but the IEC has forbidden us to tell the truth. All discussions at the IEC are supposed to be “confidential” now. This is the method by which the IS hides its true face. We cannot accept that.

 

The leadership of the CWI behaved better during the factional dispute in 91-92 than the present leadership of the IMT today. There was the same dishonesty, the same hysteria and paranoia. However, when Ted and Alan stood up and said that they wanted to form a faction to fight a bureaucratic clique, there was no decision that they had to wait until all “democratic channels had been completely exhausted”. Faction rights were granted. And at the expense of the international debates were held in most sections, even down to branch level.

 

The manner in which this IEC meeting was conducted has injected a massive dose of poison into the IMT. Trust and honesty cannot be rebuilt, even if we leave. Most of the leadership will never be able to admit the shameful role they have played. Therefore they will continue down the chosen path against anybody and everyone. What is not already dead in the IMT will inevitably be killed off.   We are more interested in building a living organisation than sitting around the death bed.

 

Appendix

 

  1. Unity resolution of the IMT presented by the International Bolshevik faction at the IEC
  2. Resolution on party unity from SWP 1930s
  3. Supplementary Resolution on the Organisational Question from SWP 1930s

 

Our resolution is, as comrades can see below, basically a cut and paste of the classic Trotskyist position on the rights of minorities. We merely modernized the language slightly and added a few details about the internet. It is we, not the IS, that stand for the Bolshevik traditions.

 

Unity declaration of the IEC of the IMT and the IBF

In view of the fears expressed by some comrades that the present internal discussion can lead to a split, either as a result of expulsions by a majority or the withdrawal of a minority, the IEC and the leading representatives of the IBF declare:

1.     It is necessary to regulate the discussion in such a way as to eliminate the atmosphere of split and reassure members that the unity of the IMT will be maintained. Toward this end both sides agree to eliminate from the discussion all threats of split or expulsions.

2.     The issues in dispute must be clarified and resolved by normal democratic processes within the framework of the IMT. After the necessary period of free discussion, if the two sides cannot come to agreement, the questions in dispute are to be decided by a World Congress, without, on the one side, any expulsions because of opinions defended in the pre-congress discussion, or any withdrawals on the other side.

3.     Both sides obligate themselves to loyal collaboration in the daily work of the IMT during the period of the discussion.

4.     The intranet is to be jointly edited by two editors, one from each side. All members who wish should be allowed access to this site, after being vetted by the appropriate national leadership.

5.     A parity commission of four - two from each side - is to be constituted. The function of the parity commission is to investigate all organisation complaints, grievances, threats, accusations, or violations of discipline which may arise out of the discussion and report same to the IEC with concrete recommendations.

6.     An unrestricted distribution of factional documents, besides those published on the intranet or in an official bulletin.

7.     A discussion at all levels in all sections about the issues concerned.  Both sides should be represented, if possible, and have equal time for lead-off and summing-up.

8.     The discussion shall continue until the World Congress. The discussion may be continued in literary form if the representatives of either side, or both, so desire. Articles dealing with the theoretical-scientific aspects of any disputed questions may be published on www.marxist.com. Political discussion articles are to be published in the intranet, under joint editorship of the majority and minority.

9.     The decisions of the World Congress must be accepted by all under the rules of democratic centralism. Strict discipline in action is to be required of all members.

10.  The IEC shall publish all resolutions considered by the World Congress, those rejected as well as those adopted. Editorial comment shall be restricted to defence of the adopted positions.

11.  No measures are to be taken against any member because of the views expressed in the discussion. Nobody is obliged to renounce his or her opinion. There is no prohibition of factions. The minority is to be given representation in the IEC and assured full opportunity to participate in all phases of the Tendencies work.

12.  In order to acquaint the IMT sympathisers and the radical labour movement with all aspects of the disputes, and the opinions of both sides, the IEC shall publish in pamphlet form and on www.marxist.com the most important articles about the disputes. This shall be jointly edited and each side may select the articles it wishes to publish.

The following is taken from Cannons “Struggle for a proletarian party”:

Resolution on Party Unity

 

A Proposal for a Joint Statement to the Party Membership, to be Signed by the Leading Representatives of Both Groups in the PC.

In view of the fears expressed by some comrades that the present internal discussion can lead to a split, either as a result of expulsions by a majority or the withdrawal of a minority, the leading representatives of both sides declare:

1.     It is necessary to regulate the discussion in such a way as to eliminate the atmosphere of split and reassure the party members that the unity of the party will be maintained. Toward this end both sides agree to eliminate from the discussion all threats of split or expulsions.

2.     The issues in dispute must be clarified and resolved by normal democratic processes within the framework of the party and the Fourth International. After the necessary period of free discussion, if the two sides cannot come to agreement, the questions in dispute are to be decided by a party convention, without, on the one side, any expulsions because of opinions defended in the preconvention discussion, or any withdrawals on the other side.

3.     Both sides obligate themselves to loyal collaboration in the daily work of the party during the period of the discussion.The internal bulletin is to be jointly edited by two editors, one from each side.

4.     A parity commission of four—two from each side—is to be constituted. The function of the parity commission is to investigate all organisation complaints, grievances, threats, accusations, or violations of discipline which may arise out of the discussion and report same to the Political Committee with concrete recommendations.

 

Supplementary Resolution on the Organisational Question

In order to assure the concentration of the party membership on practical work under the most favourable internal conditions, to safeguard the unity of the party and to provide guarantees for the party rights of the minority, the convention adopts the following special measures:

1.     The discussion in the party branches on the controversial issues is to be concluded with the convention decisions and the reports of the delegates to their branches. It may be resumed only by authorisation of the National Committee.

2.     In order to acquaint the party sympathisers and the radical labour public with all aspects of the disputes, and the opinions of both sides, the NC shall publish in symposium form the most important articles on the Russian question and the organisation question. These symposia shall be jointly edited and each side may select the articles it wishes to publish.

3.     As an exceptional measure in the present circumstances, the discussion may be continued in literary form if the representatives of either side, or both, so desire. Articles dealing with the theoretical-scientific aspects of the disputed questions may be published in the New International. Political discussion articles are to be published in a monthly Internal Bulletin, issued by the NC, under joint editorship of the convention majority and minority.

4.     The NC shall publish all resolutions considered by the convention, those rejected as well as those adopted. Editorial comment shall be restricted to defence of the adopted positions.

5.     The decisions of the party convention must be accepted by all under the rules of democratic centralism. Strict discipline in action is to be required of all party members.

6.     No measures are to be taken against any party member because of the views expressed in the party discussion. Nobody is obliged to renounce his opinion. There is no prohibition of factions. The minority is to be given representation in the leading party committees and assured full opportunity to participate in all phases of party work.


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