Недавно всей организацией читали брошюру «Империализм как высшая стадия капитализма». Ниже выжимка из этой работы, но сначала — фотка Ленина.
Производство концентрируется, появляются монополии
Вместе с развитием капитализма росла концентрация производства. Вместо маленьких фабрик — огромные предприятия: больше здания, больше станков, больше рабочих. Появились предприятия, которые работают сразу в нескольких сферах. Ленин называет такие предприятия комбинированными — чаще всего это предприятия из одной производственной цепочки.
Крупный комбинированный бизнес получает преимущество: оптимизирует процессы на всем производственном пути и устраняет конкуренцию и торговлю внутри них. Всё это обеспечивает более высокую норму прибыли и даёт устойчивость в кризис.
Сверхприбыль и устойчивость позволяют давить менее крупных конкурентов и усиливает монопольное положение комбинированного крупного бизнеса. После того как на рынке останется только дюжина крупных комбинированных предприятий, им становится проще договорится друг с другом, чем конкурировать. Так образуются картели — союзы монополистов. Так конкуренция превращается в монополию.
Банки берут под контроль промышленность
Первоначально банки всего лишь обслуживали промышленность: проводили платежи, хранили деньги, вели бухучет, выдавали кредиты. Но механизм концентрации работает и тут: более крупные банки скупают мелкие. При чем не столько через скупку банков целиком, сколько через покупку контрольных долей (обычно достаточно 40%). Таким образом можно, владея не слишком большим капиталом, господствовать в банковской сфере.
Если ты контролируешь банковский сектор, то контролируешь и промышленность. Банк знает положение дел на крупных предприятиях, поскольку через него проходит вся хозяйственная деятельность. А раз так, он может манипулировать предприятием, затрудняя получение кредита на одни цели и облегчая — на другие. Так банк диктует промышленности, какие сделки ей проводить, как строить управление. Так промышленность переходит под контроль банков.
Банковские монополии влияют и на государственный аппарат. Речь не только о финансировании банкирами нужных партий. Чиновники и министры часто переходят с госслужбы на хорошие позиции в банках.
Капитал вывозят в отсталые страны
В промышленно развитых странах появился избыток накопленного капитала. Его невыгодно вкладывать в малоприбыльные, хоть и общественно важные, отрасли, вроде сельского хозяйства. Поэтому капитал вывозит в бедные страны с более дешевой землей и рабочей силой. При этом капитал сильно ускоряет развитие капитализма в тех странах, куда его вывозят. Финансовый капитал развитых стран кредитует менее развитые страны на монопольных условиях: выдаёт кредит под обязательство покупать ввозимые товары.
Капиталисты делят мир
Из-за вывоза капитала связи между колониями росли, оставалось всё меньше стран, не связанных с общим рынком, который поделен между крупными финансовыми группами. Всемирный рынок был уже сформирован.
При этом финансовые олигархии не всегда могут договориться друг с другом. Особенно из-за изменчивости и непредсказуемости рынка во время кризисов. Поэтому не стоит рассчитывать, что образуется одна большая финансовая монополия, предтеча мирового правительства, которая положит конец войнам.
Что такое империализм
Империализм — монополистическая стадия капитализма. У него пять признаков:
1) концентрация производства и капитала, дошедшая до такой высокой ступени развития, что она создала монополии, играющие решающую роль в хозяйственной жизни;
2) слияние банкового капитала с промышленным и создание на базе этого «финансового капитала» финансовой олигархии;
3) вывоз капитала, в отличие от вывоза товаров, приобретает особо важное значение;
5) закончен территориальный раздел земли крупнейшими игроками.
Развитие капитализма сдерживает конкуренцию, замедляет техническое развитие. Монополии искусственно завышают цены. Но есть и плюсы. Империализм характерен тем, что промышленность уже организована и сконцентрирована в одних руках. Это упрощает социалистические преобразования: не нужно собирать в единую систему разрозненные мелкие производства, достаточно национализировать крупнейшие промышленные и финансовые центры — и вся экономика окажется под контролем рабочих.
Капитализм подкупает рабочих
Если в одной отрасли или одной стране капиталисты получают монопольно высокие прибыли, они могут подкупать отдельные прослойки рабочих. Хотя таких рабочих меньшинство и подкуп этот временный, капиталистам удается привлечь их на сторону буржуазии данной отрасли или данной нации против всех остальных рабочих.
Появляется прослойка рантье
Капитализму свойственно отделять собственность на капитал от приложения капитала к производству; отделять денежный капитал от промышленного или производительного; отделять рантье, живущего только доходом с денежного капитала, от предпринимателя. Империализм или господство финансового капитала — это та ступень капитализма, когда это отделение достигает громадных размеров. Преобладание финансового капитала над всеми остальными формами капитала означает господствующее положение рантье и финансовой олигархии, выделение немногих государств, обладающих финансовой «мощью», из всех остальных. В каких размерах идёт этот процесс, об этом можно судить по данным статистики эмиссий, т. е. выпуска ценных бумаг.
Capitalism cannot exist without inequality: 1% of the population on the planet owns 40% of the world’s resources, and the wealth of the three richest people exceeds the one of the 48 poorest states. This is according to a UN statement in 2000. Eight years later started the global crisis, and the rich became richer, the poor – poorer. In 2010, the number of people suffering from hunger reached one billion. If we want to remove this inequality, we have to remove capitalism.
And the only force able to do this is the working class, because it is them who create the wealth, while they themselves don’t own anything. To take the power and the economy into their hands, they need an organization. In this document we will tell about the principles on which should be built a revolutionary workers’ organization. Do not look in this document for any analysis of the Russian regime nor for any discussion of our priorities in the next period. Do not look here for any critique of methods of the CWI Russian section, which we left. In this document we are only describing an organization that we want to be members of and in which we want to believe.
We set to ourselves ambitious objectives. And it shouldn’t frighten. We are very careful to evaluate our own forces and do not wait for quick results. But we cannot move in the right direction if we don’t see our target, even though it seems today far away.
What kind of organization do we need
The working class will begin the socialist transformation of society only when they will take hold of the state power. No heroical revolutionaries, affinity groups or even mass trade-unions can realize this objective. This task can only be accomplished by a strong political organization that will unite the workers under a common program and will organize them in action.
Since there is no such organization at the moment in Russia, no one can predict exactly what that organization will look like. But still, cadres will be needed for its founding and development: people who can elaborate its program and plan of action, who can convince everyone else to act in an organized way. We want to prepare these cadres. For this, our organization has to stick to some principles.
Marxism. To organize the working class for revolution is a difficult task. In order to accomplish it, we need to understand the situation well, to lay down exact perspectives and to choose a method of action. We cannot do this without an understanding of the class nature of society. Therefore we will apply the methods of marxism and will call ourselves marxists.
Revolution. We are convinced that it is impossible to reform capitalism and get to socialism gradually. The ruling class will not willingly surrender its power and its property: we need to take them away from them. This is why we need a revolutionary organization.
Cadre. A large workers’ organization cannot reach its objectives without the leadership of people who are able to propose a plan of action. Such people, experienced and politically educated, can be formed only after a long work, made of discussions, actions, participation in strikes… One of our objectives as an organization is to prepare such a leadership. This is why we are a cadre organization.
Democratic centralism. Debates are necessary in order to form a thorough analysis and take the right decisions. Only through debates can the leadership elaborate a programme of action that the whole organization will be made to follow. Freedom in the discussions, unity in action. This approach is what we call democratic centralism.
Internationalism. Capitalism is a global system, the economies of different countries are interconnected. It is therefore impossible to build socialism in only one country. If a socialist revolution will start in one country, the capitalists of the other countries will do everything to stop it. This is why workers have to fight on a global arena, in several countries at the same time. Socialists need an International with a unified tactics and program.
How we will work
Analyse deeply and not stereotypically. This is the main difficulty for most of the lefts. One is content to repeat marxists ideas from the beginning of the 20th century, while others refuse any class analysis at all. Neither approach can give us an answer to the questions «What is happening?» and «What to do?».
We study the writings of the classics so as to learn through them the method of marxist analysis. We do everything to avoid formalism: we do not extract a few quotes or examples for a mindless repeat of past means of struggle. We will consider it a success if our cadres will learn how to conduct a marxist analyzis by themselves.
We will study the works of past Left theoreticians and representatives of social sciences, and in particular of marxist economists. Trotsky’s works were written before the Second Word War and before the collapse of the Soviet Union. We need to study modern researches in order to elaborate an adequate plan of action.
A deep analysis is also necessary in order to attract new cadres. People won’t join our organization if we only answer to all their questions by tossing them a few slogans and quotes from Marx. Comrades need to understand how the bank system works, how the State budget is made, how decisions are taken in international politics. People will come to us when they will see us as experts.
The study of marxism will help the Left and the working class movement as a whole. Even if the results of our work will be modest, we will bring our contribution to the development of Left ideas. We will show by our own example which methods work and which do not. This will help the other socialists who will take up the struggle after us and will bring our tasks to their conclusion.
We will adopt a respectful behavior towards other organizations such as the CWI, who managed to preserve the Left traditions during the past 20 years. This organization brought the ideas of marxism to many people in the world, and we cannot say that we did anything more useful at the moment. Still, we think that their approach is stereotyped and we do not believe that they will reach their stated objective. This is why we’ve decided to follow our own way.
Some Left could misinterpret our statements about a «non stereotyped analysis». We could be confused with such organizations who have refused to carry on a class analysis in the name of «more modern» ideas. This would be a mistake. A deep analysis is necessary in order to implement the marxist method in the new conditions; not in order to accomplish a revision of Marx’s ideas.
Work purposefully. Before joining a protest, a social movement or a trade-union, we need to assess their potential and our own forces.
We will discuss who will participate in this protest, with which slogans, who leads this protest, in what this could result and under which conditions. Such an assessment means we won’t act in a stereotyped way : for example, we won’t call every single mass protest the «seed of revolution». Only after an unbiased analysis we will be able to define the tactics, to decide what we will bring to that movement and how it will reinforce our own organization.
In the work with the trade-unions and the social movements, we set for ourselves two tasks: to reinforce them, and to find there new sympathizers. We do not want to appear like blabbers who want to use the trade-union only as a tribune, without caring about its future fate. But we won’t start to participate in a trade-union work if we do not see how this will strengthen our organization and bring us closer from the socialist revolution.
In our work with the trade-unions and social movements, regularity is very important. If we participate only time to time, if we disappear when nothing seems to be happening and come back only at times when events are moving on, then these workers will never trust us. That work won’t bring us any results. Therefore, if we think that this movement will offer us perspectives, our work in it needs to be regular.
Careful methods are very important in our search for new cadres. We do not hope to find ready-made activists – this is a rare luck. We plan to win over people during a process of common work and discussion. Therefore, our articles and leaflets must be understandable, our reports must be substantial, and our work must show the effectiveness of our ideas.
Collaborate. We are ready to tactical unions with other Left and workers’ organizations as long as this will not require us to water down our programme.
We will propose a collaboration only if we are interested in it. Often, organizations call to build a united front, but do not really do anything to implement it. They do this only so as to show that they are not sectarionists and care about the entire movements, not only their inner interests. But they only show it. We propose to collaborate only if we are actually ready for this in practice.
We collaborate in mutually beneficial way. We would be happy to do everything on our own: to organize mass meetings, to organize help to workers on strike, to protect ourselves from the attacks of the far-right. But we do not have enough time, forces and people for that. We know that other Lefts in Russia have the same problem. This is why we need to work together for concrete practical actions. We will disscuss the conditions, share the work, and implement the agreements.
We collaborate in an ethical way. We see other Lefts as rivals: if we thought that they follow the right course, we would join them. We do not share their convictions and methods. But we will criticize them without any insults and only by using adequate arguments: so as to help them understand their own mistakes, not to mock them. And we are ready to support them against attacks from the regime or from political opponents.
Always talk honestly about everything. Never to exagerate our merits, never to minimize our own mistakes.
Bravado is dangerous. It sows confusion: our sympathizers will not understand the real relations of forces. It demoralizes: when the lies are uncovered, comrades feel that they have been cheated, and the organization loses authority. Therefore, honesty is important for our organization.
If we’ve spread two leaflets at a meeting, then went home and drew conclusions, then we will write on our website everything as it really happened, and not make any statements such as «We shared a multitude of leaflets and had very interesting discussions with the people». If we made a mistake, we will recognize it and try to correct it, instead of attempting to justify our position a posteriori.
Develop leaders. We will choose in our leadership experienced and authoritative comrades. We won’t keep in our leadership people just to thank them for many years of service or «so that they won’t be offended».
We will elect our leadership so that it will:
— elaborate our program, using all the intellectual potential of our organization;
— organize our work in order to implement our program in real life.
The leadership will convince by weighted arguments and by its example – not by using mandates or moral pressure. It can make mistakes: comrades will correct and supplement it. For this, a well argued discussion is necessary.
Discipline concerns all members in the organization, including its leadership. We won’t build relations looking like a boss to his employees, we won’t practice the so-called «division of labour». Discipline can’t work if the leadership does not uphold it by its own example.
Our leadership prepares our future new cadres that will replace us. If, after several years, we still can’t find in our organization anyone able to replace the old leadership, it means something is wrong. It means that the leadership did not develop comrades in a political way. To work on the education of cadres means to preserve democracy in the organization.
The leadership does not forbids comrades to discuss any themes. In the agenda for branch meetings, any questions can be discussed, especially if activists feel worried about these issues. If the leadership doesn’t have anything to say, a ban is not the right decision.
Support comrades. This is a priority for the whole organization.
All our activists must be convinced that our organization will stand by them during difficult times and situations. This is why support must be provided by the whole organization, and not by a few compassionate comrades. If such a situation happens, we need to discuss it at branch meetings, to draw plans and to implement them in practice. This way, our activists will not remain alone facing problems.
Honour traditions. A task for the organization and for every comrade is to make sure that we adhere to our principles and turn them into traditions.
No one decides consciously: «From today on I will lie». Double standards, maneuvering, separate castes of aristocrats, all this enters the life of the organization gradually. In order for this not to happen, principles must become traditions.
We consider the work of our own organization in a critical way and with a great responsibility. If we see that we failed to adhere to this or that principle, we won’t react in a condescendant way. We will discuss and draw conclusions. When new people come to us, they must accept these principles as a matter of course. Then we will see that we built a reliable tradition.
The CWI is an international socialist organization. It has sections in 45 countries in the world, including Russia. We were members of that organization, but now we went out in order to build our own group.
We already explained in another article what is wrong in the CWI Russian section. To say it shortly: its leadership does not know and does not learn how to use the methods of marxism. Because of this, mistakes appear in its programme, tactics and party-building. And it is difficult to correct those mistakes, because there is not enough discipline and democracy inside this organization.
You could ask us: «If you have disagreements with with the local leadership, what prevents you from changing that leadership and rebuild the section?» Well, in the beginning we tried to do this. But then it became clear that the leadership of the whole International follows the same principles than the local leadership. And the rank-and-file activists of the different national sections are OK with that. So we decided to go out of the International.
This article is about the way we see the mistakes committed by the International and its leadership. The abbreviations in this text «IS» and «IEC» stand for the ruling organs of the International. The IS is the executive International Secretariat, whereas the IEC is a broader direction committee that meets rarely, since it is made up of delegates from the 45 countries.
N.B. Our knowledge of the situation in the various CWI sections and even more, of the mood and actions of the rank-and-file activists is very fragmentary. In order to write this article, we used only official reports such as the CWI international website, a few letters and discussions with the IS or IEC members, the various interventions on two international schools, and a few informal discussions with comrades from various countries. Our section always had very limited relations towards the rest of the International – this is an additional problem that we were not able to solve. So please forgive us if we distorted this or that fact : we didn’t do it on purpose, but because of a lack of information.
The CWI doesn’t have a well-rounded programme
We thought that only our own local section had such a weak analyzis and stereotyped programme, but that the International itself is led by strong analysts. But it appeared that it was not the case. This is what we saw at the International school.
The analysis is rather superficial. The CWI does not conduct any real political and economic analyzes. They take analyzes from other lefts, social-democrats and liberals.
At the last summer school, a comrade from Greece came to address the audience. Instead of providing us with his own analyzis, he only quoted Varufakis. And then added that Varufakis is not a marxist and is not able to propose a programme for struggle. We didn’t see wthat the CWI added to Varufakis’s analyzis.
In the same contribution, the comrade called the other lefts «idiots». Everyone applauded. But we did not hear any substantial critique of the mistakes committed by these stupid lefts.
On the CWI website, we haven’t seen since a long time any deep analyzis of the situation. The CWI members fill this gap with pompous declarations. They talk about the approaching victory of the revolution and about the power of the working class. Such contributions can inspire us once, but on the third time already, it leaves us longing for something more substantial.
The CWI does not have a programme of action. They repeat slogans about nationalization under democratic working class control. In the countries where such nationalizations seem far away, this slogan is effective as a good propagandist one. By reading it, people can understand that the CWI is against the private ownership of the means of production and for a democratic management of the economy. But this is only propaganda.
Comrades hope that when we will come to real business, the leadership will explain in more details how to effectively achieve nationalization. But this does not happen: the CWI does not know how to go from the propagandist slogans to agitation.
In Greece, the question was posed of how the Left should act once it comes to power. The CWI argues for a refusal to pay the debt, for the nationalization of banks and industry under workers control, for a State monopoly on foreign trade, for a socialist reconstruction of society, for a call to the European working class to struggle for a socialist federation.
However, once we want to implement this programme, we come face to face with the problem of how exactly to conduct nationalizations and to organize workers control? These slogans are now not propagandist anymore, but concern actual economic questions. And how to protect the Greek workers when, after we refused to pay the debt, the UE will organize an economic blockade? How to reconstruct the State structures in the country? How to stimulate the struggle in the other European countries? How to prevent a right-wing coup? The CWI does not give any answer to these questions.
It flows from that that, if a revolutionary situation came into being in our country, the International will only provide us with propagandist slogans, but not with a programme of action.
The CWI tactics are not linked to a revolutionary perspective. Comrades think that any activity will strengthen the fighting mood of the workers, will teach them how to organize, and this will somehow lead us to revolution. How exactly, this is not clear. Comrades do not discuss how their actions will bring us any closer from revolution; they do not plan anything on a long term basis.
For many years, our small Irish section has participated in the parliamentary elections. On the Summer School, we asked those comrades what are the results of this work. They answered that the elections are a good tribune for agitation. But they could not tell us what their section obtained from its interventions on this tribune. They said: «It is a difficult question, we need to take into consideration all the circumstances, and of course, this requires a thorough analyzis», but we did not hear this analyzis from them. It seems that elections, from a means, became a purpose.
Protest campaigns without any understanding of the revolutionary perspective – this is action for the sake of action. After such campaigns, the workers are not more organized, the CWI does not get new activists. We got from this the feeling that the CWI is not used to develop a strategy and to conduct a critical evaluation the results of its own work.
The rank-and-file activists do not understand the meaning of analyzis and programme. The mistakes committed by the CWI leadership is the least of the problems. These mistakes could be corrected if the rank-and-file were willing to participate in their correction. However, as it seemed to us, they are OK with it.
The bravado used to conceal the lack of analyzis always receives applauses. Activism for the sake of activism does not bring any questions in the mind of the Irish comrades. The Greek comrades also seem happy with everything: it seems that they want to remain critiques of the left, but not to take the power for themselves. Indeed, for such a purpose, propagandist slogans are enough.
The CWI leadership, talking from the podium, says that soon the revolution will start. We asked rank-and-file comrades their opinion: «How soon? In which country? How are you preparing for this?» But in vain. They know that all the phrases about the revolution are only there to raise their spirits. They got used not to take too seriously what their leaders say.
If some comrades are not happy with the analyzis or the programme of the CWI, they will discuss it in their kitchen or at the bar with others, or will keep on building their organization in their own city as they see it fit. They don’t get involved in the policies of the International and do not try to change its course.
Lack of democracy
Our principles are not opposed to the ones that the CWI declares. This is why we could stay in the International: build our own section as we see it fit (since we represented the majority of this section), while at the same time proposing the International some changes in its programme and tactics. But this appeared impossible to us, because there is a problem of democracy in the International.
The IS ignores political mistakes in exchange for loyalty. Let’s take for example Aynur Kurmanov, an IEC member and leader of the Kazakh section. In his work, he held on to the stalinist theory of «two stages» and built the section around himself in a very individual way. The IS members supported Aynur and closed their eyes on his mistakes, and in return, got his loyalty.
It is almost impossible to remove those leaders who got the support of the IS in exchange of their loyalty. Some sections do not have any access to the elections on an international level. In the Russian section, comrades, who joined 6-7 years ago were never organized to elect the delegates at the International congress. The leadership just put us before the fact.
The IS does not try to penetrate the problems. The IS resolutly excludes all the discontent, without trying to have a better look at what the critics are about.
In 2008, several malcontents were excluded from the Russian section, and half ща the section were excluded with them. These dissatisfied ones did not share many programmatic points with the CWI, so they could hardly remain in that organization. But in addition, they criticized actual problems which affect the CWI: lack of discipline and democracy. This is the reason why they were supported by many comrades who left with them. The IS did not try to conduct a discussion with these other comrades, to understand which problems led to the fact that the majority of the organization supported the malcontents. Instead, Peter Taaffe, as an IS member, took 12 minutes to exclude half of the section.
Five years later, a new fraction appeared in the Russian section: without the political mistakes made by its predecessors, but again with the same critics about the organization’s internal regime. Peter Taaffe could not explain what was the nature of the fraction’s political mistakes, but this did not prevent him to remind us how he took only 12 minutes to exclude the previous troublemakers. We understood that he is very proud of this high deed.
The rest of the comrades do not get the necessary information. It is difficult for them to form an opinion that will be different from the position of the IS, because they get only the information that the IS provides them with.
In the official reports, the CWI’s work is described as a victory train. The leadership never talks about its own mistakes. In some extreme cases, they will admit that «Some mistakes were made», but will not explain what mistakes and what were their consequences. The leadership boasts even when work is objectively failed.
Two years ago, the campaign to support the Kazakhstan Socialist Movement was an international priority. On the various summer schools, comrades were told how we were expanding our influence among the workers, how we were building a mass socialist party in Kazakhstan. Today, the campaign’s banner still hangs on the website, and Kazakhstan is still included in the list of the countries where the CWI is present. But in reality, all the comrades know that there is no more section in Kazakhstan. But there is absolutely no discussion on how we lost the section (or on whether that section ever belonged truly to the CWI), nor on the international level, nor in the various sections.
If we start to criticize the IS’s actions, our critics just never come down to the rank-and-file comrades. Several times during our fraction struggle, we tried to reach to other comrades – not to the whole organization of course, but at least to inform the IEC of what was happening and get those people involved in the discussion. But then, the IS members told us about discipline, that a discussion with the IEC can be conducted only through the IS. So the IS acts as a filter for all the uncomfortable information. And no critic ever make it across through that filter.
It is impossible to organize a discussion. If the comrades are not happy with the position taken by the CWI or the way the IS works, they cannot organize a discussion on an international level. All the discussion is organized through the IS, who decides themselves which information they let across their filter. So the comrades are left to discuss with each other in an informal way. And actually even this type of discussion can be forbidden by the IS in some cases.
Three years ago, the Kazakhstan section was forbidden to participate at the summer school. The IS explained that the Kazakhstan comrades would certainly try to discuss their section’s problems with the other comrades, and the summer school is not made for that, but for the political development of the CWI new comrades. The Russian comrades were allowed to participate at the summer school only on the condition that they would not talk about Kazakhstan.
The comrades who were not happy with the position of the regional leadership or of the IS are isolated. They cannot discuss the problem on an international level so as to draw support from other comrades.
The rank-and-file activists do not demand democracy. Comrades from various countries heard Aynur Kurmanov’s contributions, and knew about his political mistakes. Many people knew that half the comrades were excluded from the Russian section, and that five years later, a new fraction appeared again. Comrades saw how the Campaign Kazakhstan suddenly ceased. They saw that the Kazakhstan comrades did not come to the summer school anymore. They surely saw many other attempts to prevent any discussion on the programme and tactics in the organization. But they put up with it. The comrades who are unhappy lead their own discussions in the café or in their kitchens. But such discussions cannot change the CWI leadership’s approach.
Bad organizational culture
The CWI declares to uphold values such as equality and comradely relations between its members. But in the practice, it is not exactly like that.
Comrades are expected to obey the leadership. Not because of authority or discipline, founded on the electivity of these leaders. What is expected from the rank-and-file and the regional leaders is obedience.
Two years ago, IS member Tony Saunois came to the Russian section’s congress. At that time, our factional struggle had reached its highest point. One of our comrades said that before that, we were judging the IS’s policies only through its official reports, so we should consider our congress with the Russian section as a kind of test, by Tony’s behaviour we will understand what are the principles upheld by the IS in the practice. Tony was indignated by such a way to put the question. He thought inappropriate that the regional leadership could have the impudence to evaluate his own work.
At that time, we decided that maybe the problem was that we hadn’t been sensitive enough in our formulation. But six months later, we talked with Peter Taaffe at the international summer school. He could not explain what were the causes of our disagreements in our section; his speech was not very substantial. But it was very expressive. He constantly interrupted other comrades, did not follow the time limit, shouted at comrades. He just lectured us, like a boss in front of his subordinates.
When the leaders consider themselves as bosses, do not respect and do not listen to other comrades, it is impossible to organize any fruitful discussion.
There is discrimination inside the CWI. The CWI fights against discrimination, rather successfully, but it is not enough. There is in the leadership a smaller percentage of women than in the overal membership. The European comrades seem privileged in comparison to the comrades from poor countries.
Several years ago, we learnt that a French comrade was raped by an another comrade. As we understand it, the rapist was not excluded from the CWI, not even from its leadership. We tried our best to better understand the situation, wrote to the IS. But until today, we still don’t know exactly what happened, because the IS did not want to discuss this topic. So we had the impression that they were just trying to hush up this issue.
It seems that the man plays an important role in the French section, and that the young girl was just another activist. We got the impression that the CWI leadership is ready to discuss the issue of sexism only when it suits them. But when a scandal happens and they don’t want to lose useful people, the leadership prefers to forget about its own principles.
In the same year at the summer school, a fundraising was organized. On this occasion, special thanks were given to the comrades who had given the most money. But this was done without taking into account whether these comrades got or not a nice wage and whether they came from «rich» countries or not. So comrades from poorer countries do not get the same thankfulness from the organization than comrades from richer countries.
We are talking here about small things of course, but that’s the kind of things that makes up the culture of an organization. How does a poor worker from Nigeria, Kazakhstan or Russia feel, when the whole audience is applauding someone who gave in one day more money that this worker earns in one year? It seems that the CWI leadership does not give any attention to such small details.
There are intrigues inside the leadership. Personal relations play a big role in the CWI. To be friends with someone can help you get a place in the leadership ; arguments can make you get out. During discussions, the leaders do not think about how to elaborate a right position, but how the result will influence the balance of forces inside the leadership.
We did not get to come to grips with the full picture, but we understood that there are opposed groupes inside the leadership of the International. They do not discuss openly their disagreements, but use secret methods. For example, they tend to hide their own mistakes and to exagerate mistakes committed by their opponents. Even our fraction struggle in Russia was considered by them as a card to play in their own game.
One IEC member told us about a struggle inside the leadership and asked us to keep silent about several facts, so that this would not play in the hands of his opponents. An IS member at the school called us on the side, so that other IS members could not see him with us.
Intrigues are dangerous: they became a tradition and corrupt the organization. If our policies are not discussed openly during debates, but whispering in the corridors, the organization cannot choose a right strategy and win.
The rank-and-file do not change the culture. And again: the mistakes committed by leadership is only a half of problem. The main thing is that the rank-and-file activists adapted themselves to that culture.
While the leaders talk to them in a disrespectful way, the rank-and-file activists, in return, insult them behind their backs. While the leaders are busy spinning intrigues, the rank-and-file activists learn to become friends with the right people, and not to raise any discussion.
We could try to change the situation inside the CWI, but we want first to develop ourselves politically, to organize the struggle among the workers’ movement, to build organization. And not to waste efforts on diplomatic games and vain negociations.
We still agree with the CWI on its programme. For this reason we are still ready to work together in the protests and in solidarity campaigns. Just call us.
Disagreements in the CWI RS began two years ago. Following weeks of arguments, disagreeing comrades (about half of the section) created a faction. For a short time the faction took the leadership of the section, but for simplicity we shall use the term “leaders” for those who remained in CWI, and the term “faction” for those who left.
Why we joined
We joined the CWI because it was the best left organization in Russia.
Other left organizations (like Left Front) did not conduct branch meetings at all, or organized them badly. They didn’t have any programme of discussions, no reports, no qualitative discussions. In the CWI, we found a culture of discussions and political development. During the debate anyone could intervene to make his or her opinion be taken into account in the programme or tactics of the organization. Without such a democracy, centralism and discipline are impossible to achieve.
In other left organizations (like Russian Socialist Movement), it was difficult to discuss their own programme: it appeared that on their site something was written, but that the rank-and-file activists had another opinion. The CWI had a distinct programme that was advocated by all activists. Without a unified programme, the organization cannot act in a centralized way.
Some left (like Left Socialist Action) acted chaotically: if they found volunteers – there will be an activity; if not, then there won’t. In the CWI, the decisions were taken in a centralized way, to be executed by all activists. Without such a discipline, it is impossible to achieve anything whatsoever.
Other left organizations surrendered to the influence of the right-wing propaganda. For example, they justified nationalism, sexism and homophobia. But the CWI was able to stand to the pressure: even if right-wing, liberal and left-wing activists argue against immigrants, the CWI holds on its own line. Without such a steadfastness, it is impossible to build a revolutionary organization.
Many other left organizations are not affiliated to any International, and didn’t try to build one. But the CWI activists worked as part of a world organization, with a unified programme and tactic. Without an International, it is impossible to build socialism.
But when we got to know the CWI closer, it appeared that not everything was at it seemed at first.
Why we leave
When a new comrade joins the CWI Russian section, he assimilates the minimum. He reads several pamphlets by Marx, Lenin and Trotsky, learns how to explain why there isn’t any social problem that can be solved under capitalism. From that moment on, the organization sees him as a cadre. The leaders say that now he understands many things about politics and economy – better than his/her own parents and friends, than professional political scientists and bureaucrats. If this new comrade is loyal and active, he is praised and promoted.
The new comrade believes that the leaders of the Russian section understand politics and economics so well, that they can be relied on at any time. He is amazed at how easily they juggle with economic concepts and links to Lenin’s writings. But after several years, this admiration wears off. The comrade notices that the CWI Russian section’s analyzes are superficial, that its programme sticks to a stereotyped template, and that its tactics do not lead anywhere.
Then he starts asking unconfortable questions. He thinks that he will now discuss these problems with the comrades, and that they will improve the organization all together. But here it turns out that there is no discussion nor democracy in the organization: the comrade must either shut up, either leave.
The main problem is that the section’s leadership does not know how to use the methods of marxism, and doesn’t learn them. Therefore we see mistakes arising in the programme, in the tactics and in the party building. And it is difficult to correct these mistakes, because the organization is not democratic enough.
Russian section doesn’t have analyzis nor programme
If we want to act, we need to understand the economic and political situation. This is why we assess the strength of our organization by its capacity to analyze the situation and to use the methods of marxism. But we see three problems in the analyzes by our ex-section leaders: they are stereotyped, abstract and dishonest.
Stereotyped analyzes. The leaders of the Russian section do not take any issues into consideration, but only apply to them a template that they have worked out over many years. For example, if we talk about a protest movement, our leadership is convinced that if we tirelessly come out with a socialist programme, that movement will turn to the left, we can rise to its head and lead it to victory.
By using this template, we can already predict here the next article that will appear on the Russian section’s website upon the next protest movement: “Even though liberals lead this movement, the rank-and-file protesters are revolted by real problems: poverty and the lack of democracy. But we cannot solve these problems as long as the economy and the politics are driven in the interests of the oligarchs, and not of the working people. This is why we must explain the link between these issues and the policy of the ruling class, do everything we can to attract more and more workers in the protest and lead it towards a socialist course”.
This seems like a useful template: it gives reasons to intervene actively in any mass movement. But it disarms the organization, because it excludes any honest assessment of our strengths, of the strengths of our opponents, any analyzes of the protesters mood, of the class composition of that movement. But without taking all these factors into account, we can never adopt an appropriate tactic.
In 2012, we saw the beginning of a mass protest movement against the elections results. The leaders of that movement were liberals, and so were the main slogans used during those protests. The leaders of the Russian section said that the majority of the protesters were workers, so we should be able drive the movement towards a socialist course and lead it. They said that we would be able to do this if we work on this objective with all our strength. So we did this, but we didn’t find any real understanding among the protesters. After a year of protests, we got only one good contact who then joined the organization.
Our leadership did not try to explain why our perspectives did not came into reality: the protest movement did not become socialist, we were not able to lead it – even more, we were almost not able to draw from it any new members. We asked whether we did not commit any mistake in our analyzis and in our perspectives. Maybe a more appropriate objective in this movement would have been to intervene in order to get a small number of new followers, and not to try and lead the movement. But as a reply to these preoccupations, all we got were reproaches of demoralization. In the heat of the debate, one of the leaders even declared that the relation of forces is absolutely not important – if it got necessary, he could lead the protest all by himself.
Since their analyzis always follows the same template, it is difficult to find interesting articles on our website or in our newspaper. If someone read the Russian section’s website for several months, he surely would soon get to know what they answer to any question, by what ends every article. Every article consists firstly in gathering some information gathered from the main media, then adding to it a “class analyzis”. “We cannot solve this problem as long as the economy works in the interests of profit, and not in the interests of workers. This is why we need a democratically planned economy”. We don’t argue with all this of course, but where is the research? What new can the reader learn from this article? Nothing. This is why even our activists don’t read their own newspaper.
Abstract. The leaders of the Russian section are not used to give any explicit perspectives. In the articles, in the resolutions, the authors usually enumerate every possible scenario of development for the situation, without dividing them between the more probable and the less probable. So one of these perspectives will always prove to be the right one, and no one can ever blame its author for any mistake.
If we have to give a priority to our work, the author will only enumerate all the different directions: “We have to pay a particular attention to the political growth of our cadres, to our propaganda, agitation, recruiting of new comrades and internal discipline”. So the author can never be criticized for any fault. After such a text, we get the feeling that the problem was considered from all directions, but we still did not get a clear view of what to expect and what to do.
Dishonest. Our leaders think that their taks is always to lift the fighting spirit of other comrades. This would be a nice idea, if they would not start to embellish the reality in order to attain this goal. In the end, it prevents us from getting a good assessment of the situation.
Our comrades participated in a mass meeting of the liberal opposition on Nemtsov’s murder. If to read the report made on the CWI website, it seems that the people present there where delighted to read our programme. In reality, two people said that they appreciated our leaflet. But the general mood was liberal and hostile towards us.
Our press presents everything as if the Russian section always wins, as if we never commit any mistakes, and as if it is very popular. This bravado is very dangerous. It is confusing – our followers cannot get a good understanding of the real relation of forces by reading our articles. It is demoralizing – when our readers or comrades discover that all this was a lie, they feel that they have been betrayed. As a result, our press is losing authority. What our organization needs is an honest analyzis of the relation of forces.
We see this self-glorification even in our meetings. The leaders consider an honest evaluation of the situation in the section as unacceptable and demoralizing.
Once at the Moscow city committee, of which ½ of the members belonged to our faction, we gave an account of the work we had performed and honestly mentioned problems with subs, and the activity level on our activities. One of the leaders exultantly replied that “If we were a capitalist company, we would have already fired you”. Later, a new city committee was set up to replace the one where the faction was a majority. This committee appeared unable to organize the comrades, and even stopped to organize the weekly branch meetings. However, it never discussed any of these problems.
On the international summer school, the number of members in our section was, for an unknown reason, given as three times bigger than it actually was. The leaders present the malcontents in the section as an unsignificant group, whereas we were actually a majority of the section. They try to diminish the problems in the eyes of the International Secretariat, thus not helping them to help solve our problems. For some reason, in our section, this “ostrich method” is not considered as a cowardly one, but on contrary, as valourous, as an ability to always keep on smiling.
In our opinion, optimism should not be found in words, but in actions. On our branch meetings, we discuss any problems: comrades see that we talk to them as equals, and not as children.
Russian section does not have strategy nor tactics
With such a stereotyped, abstract and dishonest programme, it is impossible to deduce a working tactic. Since the basis – the analysis – is missing, the Russian section elaborates its tactics by following a method of analogies. But often, it just casts itself from one side to the other, or even refuses to lead any practical activities.
Method of analogies. Since our leadership does not master the marxist method of analyses, they are in practice forced to rely on a method of analogies. For example, if we need to decide how to intervene in an electoral campaign, they will simply recall with which programme CWI members intervened in a similar situation in another country. But since we can’t find an exact analogy, our tactics do not correspond to the real situation. For example, our leadership tried to build a support campaign to the liberal social-democrat Kavkazsky in the same way that our comrades built their own electoral campaign to get Kshama Sawant elected in Seattle. Although the difference between them are bigger than their similarities.
From this method of analogies, funny blunders are committed. For example, our leadership tried to adapt for our teachers the slogan “15 $ an hour”, borrowed from our comrades in the USA. This became “35 000 rouble an hour”. The trouble is that many teachers in Moscow already get more than this wage. Moreover, the pay is not obtained by month, but by workload, taking into account the work done outside the class, the class management and other specificities, that our leadership did not think it had to examine.
The method of analogies is bad because every context is unique, and then we cannot propose something adapted to the concrete situation.
Incoherence. Our leadership does not have any long term plan. For this reason, they constantly cast themselves from one sphere of protest to another, without any logic.
They launch a “broad campaign against budget cuts”, but four months later, discard this theme and start intervening in the issue of LGBT teenagers. Two months later, they throw all our forces on an electoral campaign for the liberal social-democrat Kavkazsky.
Because of this incoherence, we cannot achieve any real result in any movement, we cannot show the effectiveness of our programme in practice. Our organization gets a reputation of people who are not responsible for their words.
But with this approach, there is also a conceptual political mistake. Our leadership takes up any protest, do not analyze how important is that work and what it brings to our organization. The impression is as if what is important for them is the activity of their activists, but not to direct it towards a concrete purpose; they do not see any revolutionary perspective. We should help doctors to save the hospital, then LGBT teenagers to socialize, then Kavkazsky to get elected. But how does this contribute to our organization’s goals? Before launching a new initiative, our leadership should firstly reply to the question of how does it gets us nearer from the socialist revolution.
Self-isolation. Such dilettantism excludes us from any long-term and persistent work inside the trade-unions and social movements. In relation to them, our leadership adopts an attitude of “Everything or nothing”: quickly state our position and slogans, and if it does not work, then discard fully this work and direct our exaggerated critics towards this group.
This happened with the medical trade-union “Dieystviye” (Action). In the beginnig, there was an attempt to make the trade-union take up our slogans, by basing ourselves on a small group of left people in its leadership, but not on its base (which, it has to say, was rather backwards politically). By using the backwardness of the rank-and-file, the top of the KTR (Russian Confederation of Labour) opposed us by using formal pretexts.
In answer to this, we should have done a tactical retreat, take some “time out”, work with the rank-and-file and prepare the next intervention. But instead, the Russian section went out of this trade-union, declared that we were oppressed inside it, and that it was fully taken over by the bureaucracy.
Then our leadership criticized the trade-union at random: firstly for the fact that it organized meetings, and no strike; then for the fact that it does not organize anything; then, finally, for the fact that it organized a strike, but no meetings.
Then our leadership had the wonderful idea to criticize this trade-union for its lack of action exactly at the time when its Moscow branch started getting more members and prepared an “Italian strike” of the clinic doctors. But we learnt this only afterwards.
We suppose that our leadership disregards the patient work in the class structures because they are looking only to the the “vanguard” of workers and apply this concept in a very specific way. They assume that our task as a cadre organization is to find in the crowd already ready CWI members and to attract them. For such a recruitment, any mass gathering of people is good and we don’t need any laborious work inside the trade-unions. It is enough to come, to declare our position, and then leave. Doing this, they don’t notice that:
We will never find already ready CWI members among people who don’t know anything about the CWI. We need to convince people so that they agree with our position;
We need to confirm our ideas in a practical way, and this is easier to do if we participate with the workers in a common action;
It is important not only to find activists for our organization, but also to strengthen its influence in its environment.
Since our leadership do not see their task as convincing anyone, they do not consider the reply that we get from our positions. In our organization, we named this issue as “our language problem” : our articles are written in a way that only our close followers are able to understand. Instead of giving intelligible explanations, we only give slogans. And this is justified by the fact that we need “vanguard workers”.
Refusal to give a practical leadership. Most often, our leadership give a position and a strategy, but do not explain how to implement it in practice. Often we asked: “This is all very good, we need a conference of all workers of the health sector. How to organize this? What should we do right now in order to get to this?”. But our leadership refuse to lead us to the point where our position must be put into effect in practice in the long term.
When our comrades insist, the leadership reply that our activists do not understand their role. The leadership must prepare analyses and our programme in a general way, and the details must be worked out by the activists.
At the time of the protests against the closing down of medical institutions, the leadership rightfully noticed that we cannot achieve anything only by holding meetings, and that only a strike with an occupation can save the medical institutions. We should have given advices on how to get to such a strike, on how to act inside the trade-unions, in order to turn them into instruments of struggle.
But instead, the Russian section only stigmatized the trade-unions (turning away from us the public workers) and proposed them to “discuss the strategy and tactics with us”. In reality, the Russian section did not have any tactics to propose, but only strategic goals: a strike with occupation and nationalization.
Moreover, the leadership were not ready to show how to conduct work by their own example. Sometimes they even went so far as to base this on their own theory of “division of labour” inside our organization. It appeared that some people are “analysts” that should not waste their minds and time on trivial tasks; and that others have to specialize in technical tasks, such as to prepare banners. One member of the leadership was even not ashamed to defend this principle as a Leninist one.
There is no democracy in Russian section
The shortcomings in our analyzis and programme, and even more so, in our tactics, can always be corrected through a discussion. And we tried to do this, until we got convinced that it is now impossible. Our leadership is sharply against discussion, and the comrades who were not able to decide on their position, drifted apart from the life of our organization.
Absence of discussion. Democratic centralism is a method that allows us to act in a disciplined way, while at the same time elaborating our programme together. Democracy is necessary in order that the organization can correct its position in time. But the leadership of the CWI Russian section does not need any correction to their position. The programme is already prepared, so the discussion is necessary, in their eyes, only in order for the clever leadership to explain their position to the rest of the members. That’s even the way they talk: they say not “Let’s discuss the programme”, but rather “Let us explain to you our programme”.
Our leadership decided to participate in an electoral campaign in order to support the liberal social-democrat Kavkazsky in one Moscow district. Our comrades looked at this decision with bewilderment. Firstly, because of the views of the candidate that we were asked to campaign for. Secondly, because this candidate does not have any popularity among the local residents and does not have any movement around himself: he is alone. Thirdly, these elections by themselves did not provoke any interest from the residents.
The comrades started writing letters and demanded a discussion. Soon the leadership answered. But in its reply there wasn’t any honest answer to our preoccupations. However, there were insults. When they got new letters from rank-and-file activists, they called for a meeting entitled “Position of the leadership on Kavkazsky’s campaign”. So it was clear from the beginning that there wouldn’t be any discussion, but only an explanation of the general line. They had already planned a leafletting activity for after that meeting, with leaflets that they had already printed.
By doing this, they showed that a refusal of this campaign, or even only a correction of the agitation material, was impossible as a result of the discussion, even hypothetically. In the end, noone turned up on the “discussion”, except the leadership.
Our organization seemed to us a democratic one as long as we did not have any disagreements. But as soon as disagreements appeared on our evaluation of the 2011 anti-Putin protests and of our tactics in them, our leadership tightened the screws and instead of persuasion, started to use pressures and isolation of the ones who had fell out of favour. It is then than we understood that the discussions in the CWI Russian section are not there to correct our course, but only to explain the programme of the leadership.
Breeding fears. Our leadership nurtures among its activists a feeling of fear and of distrust in their own strength. From on side, they exaggerate any success from new comrades, as long as they remain loyal and do not give any uncomfortable questions. But as soon as a comrade starts to escape their control, they will remind this comrade that he/she is not able to conduct any valuable nor thorough analyzis, like only his/her leaders are able to do. And we believed in this for a long time. But the further our discussions between fractions were taking us, the more we understood: the only thing that separates our leadership from the rest of our activists is self-confidence.
For example, we wrote our resolutions as a fraction. One member of the leadership said that the resolutions include outrageous mistakes that reveal our opportunism, ultraleftism and absolute misunderstanding of marxism. We tried to explain to them that it was not so, but their answer always came down to petty quibbles, distortions and a “search for opportunism in the commas”.
In the beginning, we thought that probably we were so stupid that we could not even understand the critics from our leadership. But this lasted for months, and nor the international leadership, nor the older comrades in our sections were able to formulate where exactly we had made any fatal political mistakes. Then we understood that our leadership gives these critics not in order to find the truth in our disagreemens, only so as to pressure us, or better said: so as to get rid of us.
In order to keep the organization under their control, our leadership do not try to conquer an authority by their deeds, but instead undermine in their activists the faith in their own strengths, and create a myth about their own infallibility.
Forbidden questions. Our leadership nurtures a feeling of fear towards everything that does not fall within the borders of the recommended litterature and approved ideas. If a comrade starts giving uncomfortable questions, telling about an article written by other lefts… they start to frighten you. They will tell you about an ex-comrade who also gave such questions, and now he is… in Russian Socialist Movement! Questions lead to opportunism, revisionism and other -isms. And only on the path of the CWI and its already made answers is there nothing to be feared.
Our leadership started to criticize our electoral campaign in Saint-Petersburg (our comrade Elena was a candidate in the local elections). They did not find what to say against our programme, so they started quoting questions that Elena had asked at the time when we were preparing for this campaign. She had asked how to implement in practice this or that point of our programme. For example, if in our district there are strong right-wing feelings, and we call people to create self-defence committees to protect against crimes, then isn’t there a risk that these committees will start also acting against immigrants? Our leadership was indignated by the very fact that she asked questions. In their point of view, questions are evidence that Lena does not trust in our programme.
The leadership of the CWI Russian section are afraid that if a comrade starts to broaden his/her point of view, then he/she will drift away from the right course. Of course, such a danger exists. But if a comrade trusts in the programme of our organization only because he/she does not know anything else, it is doubtful that this comrade could one day become a cadre.
Rules are not for everyone. Formalities are the last thing that we wanted to discuss. But they are also important. In order to require discipline from their activists, the leadership must themselves strictly submit to the same discipline. The same rules must apply to every member in the organization. But our leadership did not follow the most basic discipline, and preferred to apply a double standard.
A member of the leadership can refuse to participate in routine tasks: to produce banners, to intervene in a small meeting, to clean the party centre after a branch meeting. To be honest, we must say that not all the members of the leadership broke discipline and not in every occasion. For example, whereas two of our leaders did not pay any subs for years and years, others paid regularly.
The problem lies rather in the fact that all the members of the leadership justified these violations of the discipline. To this end, they used the theory of the “division of labour”: some must engage in intellectual work, while others must paint the banner.
Our debate between fractions already lasted for more than two years. In the summer, our leadership turned up with some sly scheme of re-registration, that would allow them to get rid of all the discontent ones. We decided not to oppose this scheme, because in reality they are right. It is really better for us to leave, because we do not believe anymore that the CWI Russian section can bring us any closer to the socialist revolution.