A first fundamental element to remember, despite our frustrations or questions concerning the operation and functioning of the network, is that it constitutes an unique structure - in the sense that this type of structure has never existed before -- and that it was built on the basis of an extremely important idea: to meet for collective work with comrades defending divergent positions. It had been the tradition of our very sectarian political milieu, to work only on a common programmatic basis. Outside of a shared political program, we engaged in polemics. A first attempt had been tried with the creation of the RIMC but this failed to become the site of a real dynamic: it was left to the reader to discuss the divergent points of view. This is why it seems important to us to insist on the maintenance and the real utilization of this structure.
Taking into account these preliminary thoughts, we can try to understand the current situation by asking ourselves two questions: what to deepen, with whom, and from what perspective; what constitutes such a deepening and what are its conditions.
1. What, with whom and to which end?
The creation of the network corresponded to an observation: the political milieu was confronted with questions -- new for some, simply insufficiently understood for others -- to which we had not given satisfactory answers.
We are confronted by a first ambiguity: for some, these are new questions and not yet treated by the communist left defined in a broad sense. Among these questions: the evolution of capitalism, which confronted by its fundamental crisis, has developed adaptive mechanisms with all the implications of a profound transformation that that it has entailed (recomposition of the class, etc.). For others, it is about the continuation of the evolution of this mode of production and our task is to continue the work of analyzing the functioning of the economic system.
From this, a second ambiguity arises: is it a matter of solving the problems with the "traditional" theoretical tools (Marx, the theoretical acquisitions of the communist Lefts...) or is it a matter of putting into question these theoretical tools, noting their insufficiencies and, sometimes even, their inaccuracies, while situating theory itself in a more historical vision?
Our collective will to effect a theoretical deepening thus remained on very different bases: to theoretical deepen, yes, but what? Moreover, each of us shared a set of "irremovable" positions: certain points of theory that constituted fundamental bases which could not be called into question under penalty of losing all theoretical coherence, whereas for others these positions were precisely what made an adequate comprehension of the current situation (like the nature of the period) impossible, and were thus to be rejected.
This led us to seek to define a sort of baseline of political principles on which we could all agree (the document established at the time of the creation of the network; the question of the "criteria" for participation in the network) and led, within the network, to discussions which clearly reflected that dynamic: some calling all the positions -- including the famous "class lines" -- into question, others thinking that the discussion of these fundamentals was not necessary.
If the will to such an opening was and remains present, we can nevertheless wonder -- I do not personally have any answer -- about the current composition of the network: it especially concerns sometimes isolated comrades, coming from very different geographical and political horizons. We remained open, while stating that we are not open to just anyone, and, today the composition of the network strongly resembles the composition of a small political circle which continues to maintain more or less constant contact. Did our internal dynamic discourage, even exclude, without wanting to, comrades with more and more individual positions and “peripheral” concerns?
Here too, we are perhaps confronted with an ambiguity: for many of us, regular political activity proceeds from within a discussion group, an organized political group, which publishes a review. It is that activity that provides the continuity and regularity in the activity of [theoretical] reflection. If questions are posed, if specific confrontations take place, if new ideas are launched within the network, it is not really the network that is the crucible for the theoretical development of what finds an outlet in it. Basically, let us not be misled into hoping that the network, in and of itself, can constitute the site for an ongoing process of theoretical deepening or elaboration. Or should we conceive of the network as a tool for discussion open to anyone who wants to express their various political practices? This back and forth between the network and the contributions of the members that compose it occurs naturally: articles for the reviews, contributions, leaflets, etc. are commented on by comrades of the network. Thinking about theoretical deepening and elaboration as a much more fragmented and global process, carried out in different times and in different places enables us not to lose sight of the overall work which is carried out (even if it is with confusion and difficulty), and would undoubtedly provide the network with a more positive vision of its own function. Our error would then have been to conceive of the network as the unique site for that theoretical deepening.
2. About what do we speak while speaking about deepening and which are the conditions?
For me, confrontation is one moment; theoretical deepening is a process. And for a process to develop, it is necessary that it be placed in a framework of continuity and temporality. It must be supported by a sufficiently stable structure so that the various stages and the traces of the process of theoretical questioning are not lost and to assure the time necessary for the continuation of reflection. The network does not constitute a sufficiently stable structure to permit this type of work. It neither constitutes a structure within which a publication can be brought out or the taking of a collective position through leaflets can occur. On the other hand, as I indicated above, it represents a fundamental tool that makes a contribution to this overall process. By its openness, its flexibility, it brings together comrades who would never have participated in a more formalized structure. It makes possible moments of theoretical confrontation, exchanges of information, and reactions much more significant than a more narrow structure would allow. In that, it alternates the moments of silence and interpellation that both questions and nourishes the process of theoretical elaboration and deepening.
3. In conclusion
The creation of the network corresponds to the need to deepen the process of theoretical questioning with respect to the functioning of the global social relations in which the proletariat is inscribed.
But our error undoubtedly was to regard this network as the very place for that process of theoretical deepening. However, it does not fulfill the material conditions that would make it possible to accomplish that theoretical work.
It must thus be seen for what it is: i.e. a tool for breaking with the usual sectarianism of political groups; a site for confrontation, information and exchanges that are an integral part in the total process of theoretical deepening.
As IP has very often insisted, theoretical deepening cannot be carried out by just a single group. It is the outcome of the joint effort of all of the revolutionary forces in their diversity of visions and practices. It is important to situate the network in this collective vision.
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