Archive for septembre 2009

Impossibilism (Stephen Coleman, 1987)

30 septembre 2009

L’article suivant sur le Parti Socialiste de la Grande-Bretagne et ses racines historiques est paru à l’origine comme chapitre du livre Non-Market Socialism in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries.

Édité par Maximilien Rubel et John Crump et publié par Macmillan Press en Grande-Bretagne et  St Martin’s Press aux États-Unis, ce livre de 1987 est épuisé depuis longtemps, mais en raison de la pertinence persistante du socialisme tant comme critique que comme alternative à la société de classe d’aujourd’hui, il est important de s’efforcer que ce chapitre (et d’autres) du livre, soient rendus disponibles sur internet à  leur (re)découverte par jeunes et vieux militants.

Selon les propres mots des éditeurs, le livre cherchait à:

"… rétablir la vraie signification du socialisme. Nous ne soutenons pas que l’absence de marché soit le seul trait définissant le socialisme. Au contraire, le socialisme n’est pas simplement une société sans marché, c’est aussi une société sans patrie, une société sans classes, une société sans argent, une société sans salaires…"

Tout comme ce chapitre exposant en détail la tradition de l’impossibilisme – représenté  le mieux par le Parti Socialiste de Grande-Bretagne et ses partis compagnons – le livre incluait aussi des chapitres sur d’autres courants socialistes "non-marché" (‘non-market socialist’), tels que les communistes de conseils, les anarcho-communistes et, peut-être les plus connus, les situationnistes.

À la fin de l’article un post-scriptum donne des liens vers les autres chapitres du livre qui ont depuis trouvé un hébergement sur Internet.

Darren O’Neil



Like other terms of political abuse which have been absorbed into our political vocabulary, the term ‘impossibilism’ tells us as much or more about the labellers as it does about the idea being described. After the French legislative election of October 1881, in which the Fédération du Parti des Travailleurs Socialistes de France won only 60,000 of the 7 million votes cast, a group based around Paul Brousse and Benoît Malon began to advocate a more pragmatic, reformist policy for the Fédération. ‘We prefer to abandon the "all-at-once" tactic practised until now’, proclaimed those who referred to themselves as Possibilists. ‘We desire to divide our ideal ends into several gradual stages to make many of our demands immediate ones and hence possible of realisation.’[1] The Possibilists regarded socialism as a progressive social process rather than an ‘all-at-once’ end. Those who regarded capitalism and socialism as mutually exclusive systems and refused to budge from the revolutionary position of what has become known as ‘the maximum programme’ were labelled as impossibilists.[2]

It did not take very long for the term to find its way into British use. For example, in 1896 Ramsay MacDonald, in urging ‘socialists more frequently to put themselves in the position of the man in the street’, warned that:

We can talk socialism seriously to him and we will likely disgust him; we may gas sentimentalities to him and we may capture a member who will only be one more impossibilist in our movement.[3]

While MacDonald and the Independent Labour Party (ILP) pursued the propaganda of condescension, assured in their own minds that the presentation to workers of the revolutionary alternative to capitalism would cause disgust, th`e majority of the members of the nominally Marxist Social Democratic Federation (SDF), led by the dogmatic capitalist, H.M Hyndman, moved increasingly towards the possibilist policies of parliamentary reformism and opportunist party-building within the trade unions. At the turn of the century a small group within the SDF – some based in Scotland, some in London, but numbering no more than 400 out of the membership of 9000 – began to oppose the Federation’s drift towards possibilism. The story of the impossibilist revolt need not be repeated here; it is sufficient to point out that the leadership of the SDF pursued a minor purge against those who insisted that the Federation should stand for clear-cut non-market socialism and nothing less. [4] T.A. Jackson refers to the expulsion of Jack Fitzgerald as a ‘trumped up charge’, [5] and the obituary of Fitzgerald, published in the Socialist Standard in May 1929, commented upon the fact that he:

was jeered at by the official group, who tried to silence him by the charge of “impossibilism.” He, and the group that was with him, were confronted by a solid wall of opposition, which was the more difficult to get over because the officials held the strings, and meetings were closed to the unauthorised.

The most typically impossibilist and historically enduring product of the split in the SDF emerged in 1904 when the majority of the London impossibilists, having exhausted the possibilities of turning the SDF away from its reformist course formed a new party: the Socialist Party of Great Britain (SPGB). Although labelled by opponents as impossibilists (a term which we now use solely for historical reference and not because we have any sympathy with the assumptions upon which it is based), as in the SDF paper Justice. the workers who formed the SPGB rejected the label and its implicit accusation:

At the outset let us insist that we do not believe in impossible political tactics. None the less, our political action must be such as to awaken the workers of this country to full class-consciousness, and to the desire to abolish wage slavery. We therefore feel the necessity of avoiding any action that will endanger or obliterate our socialist identity, or allow us to be swallowed up by a Labour Movement which has yet to learn the real meaning of Class Struggle. [6]We are not . . . . ‘Impossibilists’, if Justice’s definition be correct, but we doubt its correctness, for we have usually seen what is described as ‘Impossibilism’ associated with Socialist science, working-class sincerity and correct tactics. [7]

In fact, the SPGB contended that the real impossibilists were the self-proclaimed realists who sought to humanise capitalism by means of legislative reform. [8]

Before considering the non-market socialist outlook of the SPGB – and of the parties and individuals in other parts of the world adhering to its principles – there are two other groups which deserve to be examined as examples of impossibilism in Britain.


The Socialist League split from the SDF in December 1884 in circumstances which closely resembled the impossibilist revolt two decades later. [9] Hyndman asserted that the ‘antagonism’ between the SDF and the League was ‘similar to that which existed in France between the Marxists and the Possibilists’, and although the arrogant Hyndman cast the SDF in the role of the Marxists, the analogy is, in fact, appropriate insofar as the SDF was comparable to the Possibilists and the League represented impossibilism. [10] The League rejected the idea of having a reform programme, like the ‘Stepping Stones’ of the SDF. William Morris, who fed the best revolutionary ideas in to the League, declared that ‘The palliatives over which many worthy people are busying themselves now are useless.’ [11] Morris’s conception of socialism, which he advocated both in the League and in the years after he left it, was characterised by an awareness – uncommon amongst those claiming to be socialists, both then and now – of the nature of the social transformation which socialism would entail. Socialism would ‘put an end for ever to the wage-system’; [12] it would allow everyone to have ‘free access to the means of production of wealth’; [13] it would ‘not know the meaning of the words rich and poor, or the rights of property, or law or legality or nationality’; [14] and, if News From Nowhere is a guide to Morris’s conception of socialism, it will be a moneyless society in which the ‘extinct commercial morality of buying and selling relationships will be utterly incomprehensible to anyone but historians. [15] These features of non-market socialism are presented by Morris with a particular clarity of vision and experimental relevance, in a way that makes it hard to understand without at the same time desiring the nature of the social revolution which he is proposing. A particular quality of Morris’s conception of socialism, comparable in certain respects with the situationists of the following century, was his eagerness to relate to the down-to-earth concerns of workers. Above all, Morris saw what work could be like in a society which no longer sacrificed creative labour to commercial profit:

all work is now pleasurable; either because of the hope of gain in honour and wealth with which the work is done, which causes pleasurable excitement, even when the actual work is not pleasant; or else because it has grown into a pleasurable habit, as in the case with what you may call mechanical work; and lastly (and most of our work is of this kind) because there is conscious sensuous pleasure in the work itself; it is done, that is, by artists. [16]

That Morris was dismissed as a utopian dreamer by many self-styled socialists in his own day and since, tells us more about their conservatism than his vision. As Karl Mannheim commented, with a relevance to the concept of impossibilism of which he was not aware: The representatives of a given order will label as utopian all conceptions of existence which from their point of view can in principle never be realized.’ [17]

Unlike the SPGB, which was to accept Morris’s general picture of socialism as an immediately realisable objective, Morris himself and the Socialist League asserted that such a system could only be established after a period of transition. Morris’s transition period was conceived as being a society in which property would still exist and in ‘which currency will still be used as a means of exchange’. [18] Such a transition was not envisaged as being a long-lasting phase, [19] but the idea of a society of property and exchange relationships being defined as socialist – albeit qualified by the adjective ‘incomplete’ – must be regarded as an abuse of the term. We are not here disputing the fact that such a transition might have been necessary in the last century (Marx certainly considered that it was [20]), but that is no excuse for creating the conceptual confusion of regarding the pre-socialist transition period as the first stage of socialism.


The same criticism must be levelled against the Socialist Labour Party (SLP), which broke away from the SDF a year before the SPGB. This party modelled its ideas on the industrial unionist policy of Daniel DeLeon and the American SLP. Like the Socialist League and the SPGB, the mainly Scottish impossibilists who formed the SLP advanced a conception of non-market socialism which can be seen to fall within the tradition of thought being considered in this book. But, while stating that ‘There will be no money under Socialism’, the SLP goes on to state that:

With the establishment of a system of production-for-use, labor-time vouchers, which the workers may exchange for goods and services, will take the place of money.Accordingly, under Socialism the worker will receive a labor-time voucher from his union showing that he has worked a certain number of hours. This time voucher will enable him to withdraw from the social store as much as he contributed to it, after the necessary deductions are made for replacement of wornout equipment, expansion of production, schools, parks, public health etc. [21]

An economy based on labor-vouchers would, in effect, be a non-socialist society: first, because the law of value would still exist, measuring the worth of labour input and allowing certain amounts of goods and services to be used on the basis of equivalent value (no mention is made of those who do not work); second, because the limitations of access to the common store by means of vouchers could easily lead to the circulation of vouchers, which would be in effect monetary circulation; and finally, because the absence of free access on the basis of self-defined needs and self-restraint (where materially necessary) imposes a form of economic alienation which is incompatible with the freedom of a non-exchange society sought by socialists. As early as 1918 the SLP (in Scotland) published Marx’s Critique of the Gotha Programme under the title of The Socialist Programme. In that work Marx makes the case for the use of labour vouchers in the very early days of socialism, but points out that ‘these defects’ will be transcended when ‘the productive forces have also increased with the all-round development of the individual, and all the springs of co-operative wealth flow more abundantly’. [22] The case for the immediate abolition of the law of value and its monetary expression is argued by the SPGB, which rejects the relevance of Marx’s ideas about labour vouchers, [23] while the SLP (no longer active in Britain, but still existing in the USA) persists in advocating a form of ‘socialism’ without free access. It must be emphasised that the SLP’s abuse of the concept of socialism is more serious than that of the Socialist League, for in the latter case it was at least proposed that labour vouchers would exist only in the brief transition period, while the SLP sees a need for such a rationing system within the period that Morris might have called ‘complete socialism’.

Having criticised the SLP on one crucial point, it can still be said that it and other DeLeonists have made an outstanding contribution during the course of the century to propaganda in favour of the abolition of class monopoly and wage labour. Between 1903 and 1917, in addition to its very limited success in the creation of socialist trade unions, the SLP in Britain did valuable work in providing basic Marxist education for workers. After the Bolshevik coup d’état of 1917 one section of the SLP turned enthusiastically to Bolshevism (even though they were criticised by Lenin for taking Bolshevik propaganda at its face value [24]), while those who rejected the Bolshevik tactics maintained a dwindling party in Britain until quite recently. Today in the USA the DeLeonist movement has split in different directions, with journals like The Socialist Republic and The Industrial Unionist, as well as The People, published by the SLP, providing valuable analyses of the class struggle.


In June 1904 the Socialist Party of Great Britain adopted an Object and Declaration of Principles which it has not since changed. In September of that year the first issue of the Socialist Standard was published and th Object and Declaration of principles have appeared in every monthly issue since then – not a single month’s publication having ever been missed, despite the difficult circumstances of two world wars and frequent financial crises. Consistency has been the hallmark of the SPGB – a persistence of outlook which has infuriated, intrigued and won respect from those aware of it. The ideas of the Party have travelled: parties in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the USA and Ireland, groups in Austria, Sweden and France, and active supporters as far apart as Jamaica, India and Hong Kong hold tight not only to the principles of the Party (which refers to itself internationally as the World Socialist Movement), but also to a certain political style which steers an unsteady course between uncompromising clarity and doctrinaire intolerance.

The Object shared by the SPGB and the other parties and groups of the World Socialist Movement does not tell us in much detail what they stand for:

The establishment of a system of society based upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by and in the interest of the whole community.

Nor do the eight principles offer great help in outlining the non-market socialist aim: in Clause 3 the points made in the Object are repeated in different words; Clause 4 makes it clear that socialist emancipation will be ‘without distinction of race or sex’ (an advanced proposition for 1904); and Clause 8 refers to ‘comfort’, ‘equality’ and ‘freedom’ as being benefits to be gained in socialism. The SPGB has traditionally shaed Marx’s caution about devising utopian blueprints for socialism. None the less, much more has been said and written by SPGB-style impossibilists about socialism than is to be found in the Object and Principles. In his 20th Century World Socialist or Communist Manifesto, published in 1951, M. J. Panicker explains that:

Socialism is a universal system of society where there will be no buying and selling. Consequently all institutions which are now functioning only for the running of this buying and selling will disappear. Money, banks, insurance companies and several other institutions will disappear. All the resources of the world, the means and instruments of wealth production and social services necessary to the sustenance of mankind will be held in common by the whole people of the community as you and I breathe air or drink water. All the people will happily work and they will have free access to their needs. Each and everyone will determine his own needs. [25]

Panicker has spent years advocating these ideas in India. It is accepted by all SPGB-impossibilists that socialism will entail the immediate ending of the capital/wage-labour relationship:

there can be no wages system. Wages, of course, mean that somebody is working for somebody else – they imply rich and poor, two classes. To talk of wages under socialism is ridiculous. [26]

Similarly, it is seen as being ridiculous to speak of the existence of money in a society of common ownership. In 1943 two chemists by the name of Phillips and Renson (writing under the name of Philoren) wrote an excellent book introducing the idea of socialism (without using the term socialism) entitled Money Must Go; in it they argued that:

What I do propose is, that the whole system of money and exchange, buying and selling, profit-making and wage-earning should be entirely abolished and that instead, the community as a whole should organise and administer the production of goods for use only, and the free distribution of these goods to all the members of the community according to each person’s needs. [27]

What about the state? Long before widespread nationalisation took place in Britain, the SPGB had pointed out ‘how little difference there is from the workers’ point of view between State capitalism and private capitalism, whether under a Conservative or a Labour government’. [28] According to the SPGB, socialism will be a stateless society:

The State, which is an organisation composed of soldiers, policemen, judges, and gaolers charged with enforcing the law, is only needed in class society, for in such societies there is no community of interest, only class conflict. The purpose of government is to maintain law and order in the interests of the dominant class. It is in fact an instrument of class oppression. In Socialism there will be no classes and no in-built class conflicts . . . . The phrase ‘socialist government’ is a contradiction in terms. Where there is Socialism there is no government and where there is government there is no Socialism. [29]

A distinction between government and democratic administration is made. The SPGB has tended to refrain from extensive speculation about the precise organisation of the stateless society, pointing out that such decisions must be made by those establishing socialism, in accordance, no doubt, with ideas and plans formulated in the course of the revolutionary process. Many different kinds of bodies might be used by the inhabitants of socialist society:

there is intrinsically nothing wrong with institutions where delegates assemble to parley (Parliaments, congresses, diets or even so-called soviets). What is wrong with them today is that such parliaments are controlled by the capitalist class. Remove class society and the assemblies will function in the interest of the whole people [30]

Advocates of soviets or council communism will note that their insistence upon how socialism would have to be organised is not ruled out by the SPGB. The point emphasised is that those establishing socialism will be free to determine the nature of its administration. Of course, such a decision will not be based upon utopian fancy, but will have to accord with the historical circumstances existing at the time of the revolution:

The basis of industrial organisation and administration will start from the arrangements existing under Capitalism at the time of the transformation, and this will present no difficulties because the Socialist movement will already be thoroughly international, both in outlook and practical organisation. As far as the machinery of organisation and administration is concerned, it will be local, regional, national and international, evolvong out of existing forms. [31]

The quotations given demonstrate clearly that the essential features of non-market socialism are advocated unequivocally by the SPGB and those sharing its principles. One does not have to search long to find within such literature clear and simple statements of what socialism means. Indeed, one strength of impossibilist literature is its tendency to get to the point. Perhaps at the cost of being repetitive – and after eighty years that is forgivable – the SPGB remembers (usually at least) to address itself to the uninitiated who do not want to read about one hundred new positions before they have been told the facts of life. Poets write stirring poetry and philosophers polemicise well, but it takes a straight talker to deliver a plain and urgent message; even its enemies have never accused the SPGB of being other than straight talkers.


Two political terms which are important in explaining the SPGB position are Consciousness and Democracy. This is because of the particular emphasis placed by the impossibilists upon the inseparability of means and ends. If socialism is to be a society in which the conditions of life ‘hitherto dominating humanity now pass under the dominion and control of humanity, which now the first time becomes the real conscious master of its own social organization’, [32] then such a system is not to be created by minority imposition. The SPGB insists, therefore, that majority socialist consciousness is a prerequisite for socialism. The task of spreading socialist understanding and desire is not to be evaded, even though:

the faint-hearted may shy away, aghast at the prospect of trying to convince the world’s workers of the need for Socialism. It may seem an enormous task but there is no choice in the matter. Socialism . . . depends upon the conscious support of its people. Unless people understand Socialism and want it, they will nevr establish it. [33]

This socialist consciousness requires workers to experience ‘a process of complete mental reconstruction. Years of thoroughly impregnated prejudices and attitudes towards social behaviour must be overcome . . . the whole ideology of capitalism will be rejected lock, stock and barrel.’ [34] Images of The New Socialist Man come to mind – but socialists do need to think very carefully about this question of what it means to have achieved the necessary consciousness for social liberation. Two points can be made here about the SPGB and the recruitment of members – a subject about which there are more than a few myths. First, while it is true that the SPGB will not allow a person to join it until the applicant has convinced the branch applied to that she or he is a conscious socialist, this does not mean that the SPGB has set itself up as an intellectual elite into which only those well versed in Marxist scholarship may enter. The SPGB has good reason to ensure that only conscious socialists enter its ranks, for, once admitted, all members are equal and it would clearly not be in the interest of the Party to offer equality of power to those who are not able to demonstrate equality of basic socialist understanding. Second, the SPGB does not claim that socialist consciousness will come to dominate the working-class outlook simply, or even largely, as a result of the activity of socialists. As the Socialist Party of Australia puts it:

if we hoped to achive Socialism ONLY by our propaganda, the outlook would indeed be bad. But it is capitalism itself, unable to solve crises, unemployment and poverty, engaging in horrifying wars, which is digging its own grave. Workers are learning by bitter experience and bloody sacrifice for interests not their own. They are learning very slowly. Our job is to shorten the time, to speed up the process. [35]

This contrasts with those who seek to substitute he party for the class or who see the party as a vanguard which must undertake alone the sectarian task of leading the witless masses forward into the next stage of history.

According to the SPGB, the revolution must be a democratic act. Political action must be taken by the conscious majoirty, without depending upon leadership:

it is upon the working class that the working class must rely for their emancipation. Valuable work may be done by individuals, and this work may necessarily raise them to prominence, but it is not to individuals, either of the working class or of the capitalist class, that the toilers must look. The movement for freedom must be a working class movement. It must depend upon the working class vitality and intelligence and strength. Until the knowledge and experience of the working class are equal to the task of revolution there can be no emancipation for them. [36]

This brings us to the controversial question of how the independent, conscious, democratically organised working class will establish socialism. To say – as many superficial critics and vague advocates of the SPGB have – that the SPGB stands for ‘socialism through parliament’ or ‘parliamentary socialism’ is misleadingly incomplete. When Alex Anderson, the great orator of the SPGB’s first years, was tackled by a syndicalist with the question, ‘Does the SPGB really propose to establish socialism through the ballot box?’, his reply was ‘Yes, but more importantly we must win it through the brain box.’ This linking of the conquest of state power with the concept of a consciously and democratically organised working-class majority, even if regarded as strategically incorrect, must be distinguished from the reformist parliamentarianism of those who, in the name of ‘socialism’, seek to enter parliament for other purposes than to express the majority mandate formally to abolish class rule. Engels rightly points out that the conquest of state power will be the final act of the working class; [37] the significance of such political action may be ignored by those within the ‘anarchist tradition’, but in the historical future it might be ignored at a tragic cost. Whatever may be thought of the SPGB’s case for the working class, in the course of the socialist revolution, sending mandated delegates to parliament as well as organising industrially to keep production going, it is clearly those who insist that ballot boxes and parliaments can play no part in the establishment of socialism and assert that socialism can only be established via industrial organisation alone, who are being dogmatic and historically fetishised in their thinking about revolution.

The non-dogmatic impossibilist position on the relationship between parliament and the socialist revolution was best summed up by William Morris:

I believe that the Socialists will certainly send members to Parliament when they are strong enough to do so; in itself I see no harm in that, so long as it is understood that they go there as rebels and not as members of the governing body prepared by passing palliative measures to keep ‘Society’ alive. [38]


In considering the strengths and weaknesses of the SPGB’s impossibilism, one is forced to conclude that these characteristics are not politically separable: that which in one sense manifests itself as a strength appears from another angle as a weakness. Therefore, the temptation to list the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ points of impossibilism will be avoided and this chapter will conclude with general observations which are intended to assist the readers in deciding the strengths and weaknesses of impossibilism.

The first feature which distinguishes the SPGB from other non-market socialist traditions considered in other chapters is its endurance over eighty years in a single organisation. In short, we are not just examining an intellectual tradition, but can observe the tradition as being contained within an essentially unchanged political party for a far longer period than any other concept of non-market socialism has survived organisationally. Thousands of workers in Britain have at some time been members of the SPGB and today, with a membership of 600, the Party has quite tangible support from many more workers than that. If one turns to the Socialist Standard of 1904 one can read basically the same analysis of capitalism and statements about socialism as would be found in 1934 or 1984. There are some who would see such consistency as a strength and others who would regard such a record of unaltered social perception as a serious weakness. As an example of the former, the SPGB propagandist of the late 1970s, arguing against the reformism of the ‘Right to Work’ Campaign and pointing out that full employment cannot be created by governments and even if it could such a condition amounts tto no more than the right to be exploited, is able to argue with even greater credibility when he or she can point to the Socialist Standard editorial of November 1904 in which precisely the same argument is presented. Having existed long enough to have seen the possibilists’ ‘somethings now’ burst to life and vanish into disillusion more times than the reformists care to remember, the SPGB has served as an observation post, charting the failed short-cuts of reformist history and storing them up for reference when the next possibilist rushes into the capitalist slaughter-house loaded with promises for the cattle.

The record of accurate prediction and sound analysis for which the SPGB can claim credit is an impressive one. Before 1906, when the Labour Party was founded, the reformist nature of that political movement was predicted. In 1914, when ‘socialists’ across the world succumbed to the temptation of national chauvinism and supported the imperialist war, the SPGB stood out in unqualified opposition to the war, producing at the time probably the finest anti-war manifesto ever to be published in English. [39] In 1918, shortly after the Bolsheviks seized state power in Russia, the SPGB presented a Marxist analysis of the ‘revolution’ which foresaw its state capitalist outcome. [40] In the 1920s, the SPGB was virtually the only British contender for the theory of Marxism against its Leninist distorters within the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB). In 1926, the SPGB predicted that syndicalism, or trade-union militancy without conscious political action, was doomed to failure. In 1939, another world capitalist war was exposed as being nothing like a ‘war for democracy’ and was opposed[41] and, subsequently, the bogus socialism of Labour government nationalisation and welfare reform policies was predicted and charted.[42] It has been, in one sense, an impressive record of predicting historical failures: national liberation, CND, environmentalism, charities – the SPGB warned them all that, even on their own terms, these possibilist movements would end up faced with frustration.

A record of being right about the futility of other people’s hopes and energetic actions has led to the conclusion on the part of many reformists that the SPGB is somehow opposed to improvements within capitalism. It would not be unfair to state that this misconception has been accepted by a few SPGBers themselves. A. E. Jacomb, writing in the October 1905 Socialist Standard, explains well the position of the impossibilist worker:

I claim it as a fundamental truth that the object of every Socialist, as a Socialist, is the realisation of Socialism alone. As a husband, as a father, as a human animal, he has many other interests . . . but in his Socialist position none. As a man he may favour palliatives, the feeding and clothing and comforting of the destitute and suffering, but as a Socialist such matters are of interest only so far as they affect the attainment of his objective.

This distinction cannot be more than ‘an abstract separation’ (as Jacomb goes on to concede), but it is a necessary one for those less interested in short-term concessions than fundamental transformation. The SPGB states that it is opposed to reformism, but not to reforms.

The price of long-term persistence and validity of argument has had to be paid by the SPGB. Although many possibilists have a definite respect for the endurance and soundness of their impossibilists rivals, whom they would regard as being theoretically correct but practically unrealistic (an absurdly illogical conclusion), there are other possibilists who find few labels more contemptible than SPGB. This hostility was not unknown before the 1920s, when parties like the SDF and ILP devoted more words to attacking the SPGB than the Party’s small size deserved. But it was in the 1920s, when the CPGB’s Leninist mission began, that the organised attacks upon the SPGB commenced. By the 1930s, CPGB policy was to break up SPGB public meetings and CPGB members were actually instructed by their leaders not to speak to SPGBers lest they be tempted to believe the SPGB’s ‘propaganda’ about the state capitalist tyranny of the Stalinist regime. When, in the 1940s, the West Ham branch of the SPGB invited the local CPGB to engage in a debate, they were told that ‘The Communist Party has NO dealings with murderers, liars, renegades or assassins’ who must be treated as ‘vipers, to be destroyed’. [43] After the Second World War. CPGB union bureaucrats conducted a vicious campaign to oust from trade union positions SPGBers who had refused to do their ‘patriotic duty’ in the war. The legacy of anti-SPGB slander has been slow to die, and it is common to meet Leninists even today who will repeat their intellectual predecessors’ resentful attacks upon the party that would not fall in line with Stalinism; such prejudice is all the more tragic/comic when it is considered that many of the anti-impossibilist young Leninists of today are Trotskyists who are repeating – now that it is fashionable to do so – many of the arguments against Stalinism which were put by the SPGB half a century ago.

One does not want to paint a picture of the SPGB as the offended innocent, treated with hostility without cause. It must be remembered that the SPGB’s Principles commit it ‘to wage war against all other political parties, whether alleged labour or avowedly capitalist’. [44] This it has done without compromise and, at times, without making the necessary distinction between hostility of principle and of style. The SPGB has made clear that it is opposed to those so-called socialists, communist, Marxists and radicals who would appear to be its allies, and in so doing it has gained a reputation – largely, but not wholly undeserved – for a certain sectarianism. This latter characteristic has been stronger at different times in the Party’s history, depending largely upon the outlooks of the most active organisers and propagandists in a particular period.

Another problem arising from the SPGB’s longevity is that of credibility. After more than three-quarters of a century, a party calling upon the working class ‘to muster under its banner to the ned that a speedy termination may be wrought to the system’ [45] is open to the accusation that, as the workers have not yet mustered and the termination has thus far been less than speedy, there must be something wrong with its policy. Of course, the reasonable historical answer to this is that lack of numerical support does not disprove the validity of a proposition. But, as the years have passed, cynics and empiricists have been able to contemplate with complacency the negative historical confirmation of their lack of hope for the SPGB’s success.

The second concluding observation to be made about impossibilism, which can be seen either as a strength or a weakness, depending upon one’s perspective, is that it has held tight to the basic tenets of Marxist theory. Indeed, two comments are made frequently about the SPGB: first, that if nothing else it possesses a fine knowledge of Marxism and plays a major role in spreading such knowledge; second, that the SPGB represents an orthodox, purist version of Marxism which has remained remarkably close to that which was revolutionary in the thinking of the theory’s founders. The study of Marx’s writings was frowned upon in Hyndman’s SDF – the ex-Etonian demagogue thought that SDF members would do better to study his books – and it was partly as a result of organising unauthorised Marxist economics classes that the young Jack Fitzgerald was hounded out of the SDF. From its inception the SPGB placed great emphasis upon the study and propagation of political economy. Indeed, it is the political link between the Marxist theory of value and profit and the revolutionary implication that class exploitation can only be ended by the abolition of wage labour which provided the most forceful theoretical justification of the SPGB’s aim. SPGB propagandists, especially in the early years , placed great emphasis upon the concept of legalised robbery: the robber class and the robbed. Possibilists were forced to defend their palliative policies in terms of adjusting the operation of class robbers. In recent years, since many ‘Marxists’ have rejected economic determinism ( a dogma which Marx and Engels were at pains to dismiss), it has become fashionable for ‘Marxist humanists’ to understate the significance of Marxist political economy. The SPGB has not followed this trend; it is still expected that official SPGB speakers should have a comprehensive knowledge of Marxist economic theory before they take the platform on behalf of the Party.

Whilst the SPGB has not failed to make clear those matters upon which it disagrees with Marx, some of which are far from peripheral, [46] its presentation of its ideas as Marxist has led to many difficulties. These are mainly difficulties faced by any Marxist in the twentieth century who does not want to be associated with the opportunists and tyrants who claim to be following in the Marxist tradition. The extent to which modern Marxists can rescue themselves from such awkward intellectual associations depends to a great extent upon whether Leninism can be regarded as part of, or in opposition to, the essential principles of Marxism. The impossibilists have devoted much energy to demonstrating the extent to which Marxism and Leninism are opposed to each other. [47] If such an interpretation is accepted, then the state ideologies of the modern ‘communist’ police states can be seen as Leninist, but not Marxist.

Like any theory, Marxism is open to dogmatic abuse, and, although impossibilist writers and speakers have tended generally to treat Marxist theory with a proper degree of critical reasoning, examples of Marxist dogmatism are certainly to be found sprinkled throughout the recorded history of impossibilist propaganda. But, despite the very real dangers of theoretical dogmatism, a distinction must be observed between the intellectual conviction which is a product of a theoretically defensible Marxist positivism, and the religious adjustment of social perception to fit in which dogma which is the product of a mind which has descended from reason to belief.

The third noteworthy point about the impossibilists – which is not unrelated to the origin of the SPGB within the English autodidactic tradition – is their tendency to argue in accordance with the strict standards of formal logic and empirical proof. Although such an admission would be regarded by certain European ‘Marxists’ as a confession of philosophical deficiency, impossibilists have always been suspicious of philosophical formulae and have never been impressed by the dialectical gymnastics of the fluid logicians, whose sophistication of thought is usually regarded as a refined front for evasion and confusion. [48] The impossibilists have always preferred clear-cut definitions, quotations, statistics, and logically comprehensible deductions to the methodological abstractions against which E.P. Thompson has written persuasively. [49]

Of course, it may be commented by critics that the price of impossibilist simplicity has been over-simplification. Faced with the choice between abstruse detail and simplification which may lack theoretical refinement, the impossibilists have erred in the right direction by opting in general for comprehensibility, even if it is occasionally at the expense of sophistication.

This concern for comprehensible propagandism is at the very root of the impossibilists’ conception of their revolutionary mission. Always identifying their role within an activist, rather than contemplative, context, the impossibilists have seen their purpose, in the words of William Morris, as being ‘to make socialists’. And when all the grandness of revolutionary rhetoric is brushed aside, it is, at the end of the day, the worker putting the case for the abolition of wage labour to her mates during the lunch break, the man on the soapbox who is cultivating new social visions in the imaginations of his listeners, the man who is known in his local pub as the fellow who is always talking about a world without money – it is these who are doing the real work of giving their fellow workers a taste of the impossible. When the taste turns into a hunger it will be time for those who need socialism to show, in ways which will ultimately be determined by them, that they posses the ‘courage and strength to realise the impossible. [50]

[1] Prolétaire 19 November 1881 (emphasis in the original).
[2] Aaron Noland, The Founding of the French Socialist Party, 1893-1905 (New York: Fertig, 1970) p. 13. I would not regard Guesde, Lafargue and the other French ‘impossibilists’ as impossibilists in the sense in which the term is used in this chapter.
[3] Rochdale Labour News, October 1896.
[4] Stephen Coleman, ‘The Origin and Meaning of the Political Theory of Impossibilism’, unpublished Ph.D. thesis (University of London, 1984). See also Chushichi Tsuzuki, ‘The Impossibilist Revolt in Britain’, International Review of Social History, 1 (1956). Tsuzuki’s article, whilst being very acceptable as a work of narrative scholarship, places less emphasis upon the intellectual conflict between possibilism and impossibilism than does my own study.
[5] T.A Jackson, Solo Trumpet (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1953) p.66.
[6] Circular statement issued by impossibilists within the SDF in May 1904. I possess a copy of this document.
[7] Socialist Standard, September 1907.
[8] See ‘Who Are the Impossibilists?’, Socialist Standard, November 1912.
[9] Coleman, 1984, ch. 6. See also Stephen Coleman, ‘What Can We Learn From William Morris?’, Journal of the William Morris Society, VI (summer 1985) pp. 12-15.
[10] H. M. Hyndman, Further Reminiscences (London: Macmillan, 1912) p. 2.
[11] ‘Art and Socialism’, in Collected Works of William Morris, vol. XXIII (London: Longman, 1910-15) p. 208.
[12] Manifesto of the Socialist League, reproduced in E. P. Thompson, William Morris: Romantic to Revolutionary (London: Merlin, 1977) appendix 1. Also reproduced in Socialist Standard, July 1985.
[13] True and False Society (Socialist League, 1888) pp. 16-17.
[14] ‘The Society of the Future’, in A. L. Morton, Political Writings of William Morris (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1973) p. 201.
[15] William Morris, News From Nowhere (London: Routledge, 1970) p. 31.
[16] Ibid, p. 78 (emphasis in the original).
[17] Karl Mannheim, Ideology and Utopia (London: Routledge, 1936) pp. 176-7 (emphasis in the original).
[18] See Morris’s and E. Belfort Bax’s Notes on the Manifesto of the Socialist League, in Thompson, 1977, p. 738.
[19] See Adam Buick, ‘William Morris and Incomplete Communism: a Critique of Paul Meier’s Thesis’, Journal of the William Morris Society III (summer 1976) pp. 16-32.
[20] See his Critique of the Gotha Programme, in Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Works, vol. III (Moscow: Progress, 1970) pp. 9-30; and proposed policies listed at the end of the second section of The Communist Manifesto, in Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Collected Works, vol. VI (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1976) p. 505.
[21] Socialism: Questions Most Frequently Asked and Their Answers (New York: Socialist Labor Party, 1975) p. 20.
[22] Marx and Engels, Selected Works, vol. III, p. 19.
[23] See the articles by A. Buick and P. Lawrence in The World Socialist, 2 (autumn 1984).
[24] V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, vol. XXXI (Moscow: Progress, 1966) pp. 77ff.
[25] M. J. Panicker, 20th Century World Socialist or Communist Manifesto (London: Panicker, 1951) p. 66.
[26] Socialism or Chaos (Melbourne/Sydney: Socialist Party of Australia, no date) p. 19
[27] Philoren, Money Must Go (London: J. Phillips, 1943) p. 16.
[28] Socialist Standard, April 1930. See also Nationalisation or Socialism? (London: Socialist Party of Great Britain, 1945).
[29] Questions of the Day (London: Socialist Party of Great Britain, 1978) pp. 97-98.
[30] Socialist Principles Explained (London: Socialist Party of Great Britain, 1975) p. 15.
[31] Socialist Standard, February 1939.
[32] Frederick Engels, Anti-Dühring (Peking: Foreign Language press, 1976) p. 366.
[33] The Case For Socialism (London: Socialist Party of Great Britain, 1962) p. 42.
[34] Socialist Standard, September 1980.
[35] Socialism or Chaos, p. 35.
[36] The Socialist Party – Its Principles and Policy (London: Socialist Party of Great Britain, 1934) pp. 22-3.
[37] Engles, Anti-Dühring p. 362
[38] Letter to Dr J. Glasse, 23 May 1887, in R. Page Arnot, William Morris: the Man and the Myth (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1964) p. 82.
[39] Reprinted in The Socialist Party and War (London: Socialist Party of Great Britain, 1970) pp. 60-2.
[40] See Socialist Standard, August 1918. For detailed analysis of the SPGB’s response to the Bolshevik coup, see Coleman, 1984, ch. 5./br>
[41] The SPGB’s statement on the Second World War is reprinted in The Socialist Party and War, pp. 62-4.
[42] See Beveridge Re-Organises Poverty (London: Socialist Party of Great Britain, 1943), and Family Allowances: a Socialist Analysis (London: Socialist Party of Great Britain, 1943).
[43] Socialist Standard, May 1943.
[44] Declaration of Principles, clause 8.
[45] Ibid, clause 8.
[46] For example, the SPGB does not endorse Marx’s ideas regarding struggles for national liberation, minimum reform programmes, labour vouchers, the lower stage of communism. On some of these points, the SPGB does not reject what Marx advocated in his own time, but rejects their applicability to revolutionaries now; on the other points, the SPGB approaches social problems from a different angle from adopted by Marx. There are, of course, other issues (not listed above) upon which the SPGB might appear to be at variance with Marx, but is in fact only disputing distortions of Marx’s thinking.
[47] See Lenin Distorts Marx (Victoria: Socialist Party of Canada, 1979).
[48] See The Socialist Party of Great Britain and Historical Materialism (London: Socialist Party of Great Britain, 1975) ch. 7 on ‘Dialectical Materialism’, pp. 39-48.
[49] E. P. Thompson, The Poverty of Theory London: Merlin, 1978). See title essay.
[50] A quotation from the anabaptist Thomas Müntzer in Mannheim, 1936, p. 192.


Many of the Socialist Party of the Great Britain pamphlets and Socialist Standard articles that are cited in the article can be found at the following link.

The following chapters from Rubel and Crump’s book can be found on the internet:

  • Anarcho-Communism by Alain Pengam (this version of the article does not include the end notes that appeared in Rubel and Crump’s book).
  • Council Communism by Mark Shipway
  • Bordigism by Adam Buick
  • The SLP of America: a premature obituary?

    30 septembre 2009

    Article, à paraître dans le Socialist standard d"octobre, qui rappelle les points communs et les divergences entre le Parti socialiste de Grande-Bretagne (SPGB) et le Parti socialiste ouvrier d’Amérique (SLP), les deux "branches" de l’impossibilisme anglo-saxon.

    By some accounts the Socialist Labor Party of America has ceased to function. It has lost its premises and its paper, The People, has not appeared for many months. Some of its locals are still meeting and its ideas live on in its offshoots and breakaways but that’s all. [*]

    Founded in 1876, for the first twenty or so years it was a reformist organisation – at least, it advocated reforms of capitalism as well as its concept of socialism – not unlike the German Social Democratic Party of which many of its founding and later members had been members before emigrating to America. Things began to change with the entry into its ranks of Daniel De Leon and his election as editor of The People in 1892. De Leon campaigned for the SLP to drop its reform programme; which it did in 1900 (which led to a split and the formation of the reformist Socialist Party of America of Eugene Debs and Norman Thomas).

    The SLP of America, and its translations by De Leon of Marx’s writings, was one of the inspirations of the ‘impossibilist revolt’ within the Social Democratic Federation in Britain against the opportunism and undemocratic practices of its leaders, a revolt which led to two breakaways, the first, in 1903, to found the Socialist Labour Party of Great Britain, the second, in 1904, to found us, the Socialist Party of Great Britain.

    During this period De Leon’s position on the relative importance of political and industrial action changed. At first he insisted that political action – as action aimed at getting control of political power – was paramount, with industrial organisation as supportive, to back up if need be the verdict of the ballot box as well as to take over and run production immediately after the capture of state power. Later, as the agitation built up that eventually led to the foundation of the Industrial Workers of the World in 1905 (in which he played a prominent part), he changed the emphasis, arguing that it was organisation on the industrial field – to ‘take and hold’ the means of production – that was the more important, with political action relegated to the role of supporting the take-over of industry by neutralising and disbanding the state.

    The SPGB in effect adopted De Leon’s original position while the SLPGB embraced his later ‘socialist industrial unionism’. Even though a casual observer might struggle to detect the subtlety of the difference but would see rather the points of similarity between the two parties, ideological battle raged over this issue for decades between us and them until the demise of the SLPGB in the 1970s.

    In the meantime other, perhaps more important, differences emerged. Like us the SLP of America recognised that socialism was out of the question in Russia in 1917 (though most of the SLP in Britain went over to the Communist Party when it was formed in 1921, providing some of its early leaders). When, however, it was reported that Lenin had made a passing favourable comment on De Leon’s ‘socialist industrial unionism’ blueprint as a way to run industry, the SLP took a more favourable view of Bolshevik Russia. In fact, until the Russian invasion of Finland in 1939, the SLP held that Russia was some sort of ‘proletarian regime’ even if its politics were wrong (a bit like the Trotskyist position). Even after 1939 it didn’t recognise Russia as state capitalist, preferring to call it ‘industrial feudalism’ or, later, ‘bureaucratic collectivism’.

    Another difference to emerge was over ‘socialism in one country’, especially America. De Leon had always tried to project the SLP as in the American revolutionary tradition (partly to dissipate its early German-American character), for instance praising the founding fathers of the US and criticising schoolchildren who refused to salute the American flag. His successors continued this and in its publications reference to a ‘socialist America’ and a ‘socialist Britain’ could be found. Even so, the SLP continued to publish material for pre-1914 immigrants in non-English languages (Hungarian, Bulgarian, South Slavonian) until the 1960s.

    Then there was the question of ‘labour time vouchers’. Marx had mentioned these as one possible way of distributing consumer goods and services in the very early days of socialism had it been established in 1875. De Leon and, after his death in 1914, his successors turned this into a dogma, insisting that these vouchers had to be introduced and maintained for a number of years as the method of distribution, despite the fact that the development of the productive forces since 1875 had made it possible to introduce free access more or less immediately after the establishment of socialism. Believe it or not, this is still a burning issue between us and some DeLeonists on internet discussion forums.

    There were similarities too. The SLP had the same definition of working class as us (despite its logo being a working man with bulging muscles wielding a big hammer). It contested elections – every US presidential election between 1892 and 1976 – on a programme offering no reforms of capitalism. It defended Marx’s view against the Leninists about the possibility of a peaceful establishment of socialism. Most SLP members eventually came to see Russia as state capitalist and that free access was the socialist method of distribution to be reached as soon as practicable. The SLP also abandoned its policy of setting up rival socialist unions and, like us, joined the existing unions for all their faults.

    The SLP has its place in the history of working class ideas and organisation in the English-speaking world. ‘Names’ such as Jack London and James Connolly passed through it. It made some important mistakes, but was not fundamentally anti-working class like Leninism and its offshoots. Unfortunately, they still survive.


    [*] Le SLP ne présente plus de candidats aux élections depuis celle de gouverneur du New Jersey en 1985 et a cessé en 2008 la publication de son journal The People (devenu mensuel en 1979).

    En-tête de la presse du SLP

    Diffusion du matériel d’Against Wage-labour

    29 septembre 2009

    Les camarades d’Against wage-labour signalent que leur site a été hacké et dans l’attente de sa remise en état envoient par liste de diffusion trois articles que nous proposons ici en téléchargement pdf:

    1. Textile Workers on Strike in South Africa
    2. Workers strike at Peru Iron Ore Mining Company
    3. Obama Congratulates Labour “Friends” at AFL-CIO National Convention

    Une réponse de Victor Serge à Trotsky

    28 septembre 2009

    Première mise en ligne du document et présentation par Critique sociale.

    Victor Serge (1890-1947), écrivain et militant d’extrême-gauche, participa en URSS à l’opposition contre Staline dès 1923, et fut dans les années 1930 détenu plusieurs années par le pouvoir stalinien.

    Ce texte du 12 mars 1939 a été publié pour la première fois le 21 avril 1939 dans Juin 36, l’organe du Parti Socialiste Ouvrier et Paysan (PSOP), sous le titre : « Leur morale et la nôtre », avec une introduction de Victor Serge (que nous reproduisons ci-dessous). Le texte a été republié en 1973 par les éditions Spartacus (dirigées par René Lefeuvre, ancien du PSOP) sous le titre : « Réponse à Léon Trotsky », en annexe à la première édition francophone de « Les Soviets trahis par les bolcheviks », ouvrage de Rudolf Rocker.

    La Lutte ouvrière du Borinage, « organe de la section belge de la IVe Internationale » (mais oui !) ayant publié un article de Léon-Davidovitch Trotsky me concernant, je lui adressai, le 12 mars, la réponse qu’on va lire – et que cette feuille n’a pas cru devoir publier. J’avais donc tord de croire à sa loyauté. D’autres publications de la « IVe » m’ont attaqué depuis. Je ne leur répondrai pas. J’accepterais volontiers, et même avec joie, la discussion des faits et des idées – pensée marxiste ou histoire de la révolution russe – mais je ne vois vraiment aucune utilité à relever des assertions systématiquement fausses qui ne traduisent en définitive que l’esprit de secte et un singulier manque de camaraderie. La mise au point suivante suffit à faire ressortir la nature de notre désaccord et à suggérer à ce sujet des réflexions profitables… Je ne veux y souligner qu’un point : c’est qu’un grand nombre des derniers combattants de l’opposition de gauche du P.C. de l’U.R.S.S. de 1923, dite par la suite trotskyste, sont – s’il en survit dans les geôles de Staline – de mon avis sur ces questions essentielles ; et que j’ai dès lors la certitude intime de demeurer en complète unité d’esprit avec eux, fidèle aux fins libératrices de l’opposition de 1923, qui ne se battait certes pas pour substituer à un bureaucratisme étrangleur un sectarisme étouffant…

    V.S. [avril 1939]

    Chers camarades,

    J’attends de votre loyauté que vous publiiez les quelques lignes de réponse que voici à un article de Trotsky, dans lequel je suis nommé, – paru dans vos colonnes le 11 mars – intitulé « Les ex-révolutionnaires et la réaction mondiale ».

    Léon Trotsky semble, pour autant que je puis m’en rendre compte, vouloir répondre à une étude que j’ai publiée aux États-Unis, dans Partisan Review et qui paraîtra sous peu en français : « Puissance et limites du marxisme »1, mais il est tout à fait évident qu’il y répond sans l’avoir lue… Et cela c’est déplorable. Comme on l’a tant de fois fait à son égard, en Russie, à l’époque où je le défendais de mon mieux, il m’impute des idées que je n’exprime pas et que je n’ai pas, tout en ignorant d’autre part celles que j’exprime. Méthode de discussion insensée, qui appartient au bolchevisme de la décadence comme à tous les sectarismes : car le propre du sectarisme est d’aveugler. Et il est plus facile d’excommunier sans chercher à comprendre que de discuter fraternellement.

    Jugez-en :

    Trotsky écrit :

    « Victor Serge, par exemple, a récemment annoncé que le bolchevisme passe par une crise présageant une "crise du marxisme". Dans son innocence théorique, Victor Serge s’imagine être le premier à faire cette découverte… »

    (C’est tout à fait à tort que Trotsky s’imagine que je me l’imagine… Mais la chose n’a guère d’importance.)

    « Cependant, à chaque moment de réaction, des dizaines et des centaines de révolutionnaires hésitants se sont levés pour annoncer la crise finale, cruciale et mortelle du marxisme. Que le vieux parti bolchevik se soit épuisé ; qu’il ait dégénéré et qu’il ait péri, cela ne se discute même plus. Mais la fin d’un parti historique qui, pendant une certaine période s’est basé sur la doctrine marxiste, n’est pas la fin de cette doctrine. La défaite d’une armée n’infirme pas les principes fondamentaux de la stratégie. Un artilleur peut tirer loin de sa cible, cela n’infirme pas la balistique, c’est-à-dire la science de l’artillerie. Et si l’armée du prolétariat essuie une défaite ou si son parti dégénère, cela n’infirme pas le marxisme qui est la science de la révolution. Que Victor Serge lui-même traverse "une crise", que ses idées s’embrouillent désespérément, cela se voit. Mais la crise de Victor Serge n’est pas la crise du marxisme. »
    Je ne relève pas l’inutile attaque personnelle contenue dans ces lignes et qui ne constitue, certes, pas une défense du marxisme. J’avais conclu mon étude par ces mots :

    « La lutte des classes continue : on entend distinctement craquer, en dépit des replâtrages totalitaires, la charpente du vieil édifice social. Le marxisme connaîtra encore bien des fortunes diverses, peut-être même des éclipses. Sa puissance, conditionnée par les circonstances historiques, n’en apparaît pas moins indéfectible en définitive, puisqu’elle est celle du savoir alliée à la nécessité révolutionnaire. »

    Plus haut, j’avais écrit :

    « Par suite de son éclatante victoire spirituelle et politique, dans la révolution russe, le marxisme est aujourd’hui menacé d’un immense discrédit et, dans le mouvement ouvrier, d’une démoralisation sans nom » – car tels sont bien les effets du stalinisme, et Trotsky les a souvent dénoncés lui-même en des termes analogues. Seulement, je précisais :

    « Est-il besoin de souligner une fois de plus que le marxisme obscurci, falsifié et ensanglanté des fusilleurs de Moscou, n’est plus du marxisme ?… Les masses, par malheur, mettront du temps à s’en apercevoir… »

    Il est vrai que je suis – de même que certainement bon nombre de camarades de l’opposition de gauche de l’ancien P.C. de l’U.R.S.S., s’ils survivent dans les prisons de Staline – en désaccord avec Trotsky sur des questions essentielles. Vous voyez par cette lettre que nous avons même des façons différentes de concevoir la discussion : j’estime qu’on doit lire ce que l’on réfute. (J’estime de même que l’on doit, ceci étant à mes yeux un principe de morale révolutionnaire, éviter dans les polémiques entre militants, au sein du mouvement ouvrier, les expressions injurieuses ou blessantes…) Dans l’article en question, j’adressais directement à Trotsky, le reproche suivant, auquel il a préféré ne pas répondre, ce qui me confirme dans l’idée qu’il n’a pas pris la peine de me lire :

    « Les chefs du bolchevisme des grandes années n’ont manqué ni de savoir ni d’intelligence, ni d’énergie : ils ont manqué d’audace révolutionnaire toutes les fois qu’il eût fallu chercher (après 1918) des solutions dans la liberté des masses et non dans la contrainte gouvernementale. Ils ont systématiquement bâti non l’Etat-Commune qu’ils avaient annoncé, mais un Etat fort, au sens vieux du mot, fort de sa police, de sa censure, de ses monopoles, de ses bureaux tout-puissants… »

    En une autre circonstance, fin avril 1938, dans une lettre à The New International, j’avais demandé : « Quand et comment le bolchévisme a-t-il commencé à dégénérer ? ». Cette question fait le fond du débat qui me sépare de Trotsky et de son orthodoxie, trop encline à reprendre et continuer aujourd’hui les méthodes qui ont contribué à la dégénérescence du bolchevisme, c’est-à-dire à la corruption du marxisme. J’avais notamment posé une question tout à fait précise sur laquelle j’aimerais que Trotsky s’expliquât, car elle trouble pas mal de consciences dans le mouvement ouvrier et présente beaucoup plus d’intérêt que les variations faciles sur le découragement des intellectuels, même appliquées à de vieux militants ouvriers qui ne sont point de son avis. Voici :

    « Le moment n’est-il pas venu de constater que le jour de l’année glorieuse 1918 où le Comité Central du parti décida de permettre à des commissions extraordinaires d’appliquer la peine de mort sur procédure secrète, sans entendre des accusés qui ne pouvaient pas se défendre, est un jour noir ? Ce jour-là, le Comité Central pouvait rétablir ou ne pas rétablir une procédure d’inquisition oubliée de la civilisation européenne. Il commit en tout cas une faute. Il n’appartenait pas nécessairement à un parti socialiste victorieux de commettre cette faute-là. La révolution pouvait se défendre à l’intérieur et même impitoyablement sans cela. Elle se serait mieux défendue sans cela. »

    Elle n’aurai pas, en tout cas, créé les armes qui ont servi à fusiller ses partisans.

    Je ne m’attendais pas à voir Trotsky reprendre le vieux procédé tant de fois employé contre lui – contre nous – et qui consiste à substituer, dans la discussion, des désaccords imaginaires aux désaccords réels… Je ne m’attendais pas non plus à le voir revenir au vieil idéalisme hégélien, que le marxisme dut surmonter pour naître, en affirmant : « Tout ce qui est rationnel, est réel… » au moment précis où, dans la lutte sociale, le barbare et l’absurde l’emportent, par le fer et par le feu, sur le rationnel. Voyez l’Espagne ouvrière assassinée pour avoir tenté un prodigieux effort vers le rationnel dans l’organisation de la société moderne, c’est-à-dire vers le socialisme.

    Salut fraternel.

    Victor Serge. [mars 1939]

    [1] La lettre originale à La Lutte ouvrière comprend ici une parenthèse : « (sitôt qu’elle sera parue, je vous l’enverrai) ». Cette étude de Victor Serge a été publiée dans Masses n° 3, mars 1939 (revue dirigée par René Lefeuvre) ; elle est rééditée dans Victor Serge, 16 fusillés à Moscou, Spartacus, 1972, pp. 133-142. Le site internet « La Bataille socialiste » l’a numérisée :

    L’Insurgé : un mouvement socialiste sous l’occupation

    27 septembre 2009

    Extrait de Les socialistes rhodaniens sous l’occupation (1940-1944), mémoire de fin d’études de Célian Faure à l’Institut d’Études Politiques de Lyon (septembre 2003). [pdf]

    L’Insurgé est un petit mouvement de Résistance qui étonne. Créé par Marie-Gabriel Fugère, ex-secrétaire fédéral du Rhône et de la Loire du P.S.O.P., parti scissionniste de Marceau Pivert, apparenté à la gauche révolutionnaire du socialisme, l’Insurgé est un mouvement exclusivement local qui va prendre son importance dans la carte régionale de la Résistance.

    Un mouvement organisé

    Syndicaliste et militant dynamique, M-G. Fugère a une expérience solide en matière de rassemblement et d’organisation. De surcroît, le poste de secrétaire fédéral qu’il occupait avant-guerre lui facilite la tâche de la reprise de contacts.
    Cependant, Fugère ne laisse rien au hasard et est imprégné d’une exigence à la hauteur de ses aspirations. En véritable « professionnel », il fait attention de ne sélectionner au comité central que les individus les plus sûrs et les plus compétents : « Les camarades honnêtes mais trop bavards, qui constituaient un véritable danger furent éliminés. » [1] . Le comité central prend une coloration très proche du P.S.O.P., comme l’ensemble des cadres de l’Insurgé. En plus de Fugère, celui-ci se compose de Barboyon, un jeune syndicaliste S.F.I.O., de Joseph Poncet, ancien pivertiste et révolutionnaire convaincu, de Guilhot, ancien S.F.I.O. et syndicaliste, de Madame Cottin, ancienne S.F.I.O. Il convient d’ajouter plus tard l’adhésion de militants dont l’action eut un rayonnement conséquent. Parmi eux, l’instituteur Julien Godard et l’imprimeur villeurbannais Martinet. Il s’agit d’une composition dans l’esprit pivertiste, dans laquelle l’ouvrier syndiqué est un archétype fiable. Fugère est électromécanicien, Barboyon est aide à la pharmacie de l’hôpital de Grange-Blanche de Lyon, Poncet est ouvrier serrurier, Guilhot est ajusteur aux Carburants Zénith. En accord avec la doctrine de leur chef de file, les militants de l’Insurgé font partie du socialisme de gauche et ne dissocient pas la lutte contre l’occupant de la libération des classes laborieuses.
    D’autres groupes se forment à Lyon et dans sa banlieue, à Villefranche sur Saône notamment. Ces groupes se composent de militants P.S.O.P. de façon majoritaire, ainsi que de quelques socialistes, de libertaires et de sans parti. [2] Reprenant le modèle des fédérations, le mouvement divise Lyon en plusieurs secteurs auxquels leur sont attachés des responsables : Louis Seurre dirige le secteur Croix-Rousse-Caluire, Louise Voulat s’occupe de Vaise, Mascaras se consacre au secteur Lyon-centre, et Lyon-rive Gauche est animé par Joseph Poncet.
    Soucieux de ne pas dissocier le combat de la lutte prolétarienne et convaincus que la croissance des effectifs passe par la persuasion des classes populaires, les militants de l’Insurgé forment dès septembre 1942 des groupes dans les usines de Lyon et de sa banlieue, ainsi qu’à Saint-Étienne. Les plus importants d’entre eux sont ceux de la Compagnie Electro-Mécanique de Fugère, des Carburateurs Zénith de Guilhot, des usines Rochet-Schneider, de l’hôpital Grange-Blanche où travaille Barboyon.
    Un autre aspect de l’organisation de l’Insurgé est incontournable. Il s’agit de son journal, qui comme Combat ou Franc-Tireur, est celui qui a donné son nom au mouvement. C’est Joseph Poncet qui propose « l’Insurgé » en janvier 1942. Il semble que le premier numéro paraisse en mars 1942 [3] . Ce pilote est financé grâce à la cotisation des membres du comité central, à hauteur de 100 Frs par personne. Conçu grâce au « système D », il est surtout l’œuvre des efforts et des risques personnels de Joseph Poncet. Pour le deuxième numéro, Julien Godard trouve une aide pour le financement, en la personne de son ami Mercier. La part principale du financement du journal demeurera dans les dons assurés par les amis du mouvement, notamment grâce au dévouement de ceux qui sont pourtant les plus modestes. Dès le troisième numéro, le tirage est assuré par le petit imprimeur Martinet, 5 rue Mozart à Villeurbanne. Quant à la distribution, elle est assurée par les militants du mouvement qui s’approvisionnent rue Centrale à Lyon, où une cave a été louée [4] .
    La rédaction est assurée par Julien Godard, Pierre Stibbe et un militant italien, Joseph Bogoni, et l’Insurgé parvient à sortir son journal tous les mois.

    Un mouvement indépendant et militant

    Bien que modeste et précaire, le mouvement l’Insurgé cultive sa verve militante et son indépendance. On l’a déjà répété, le mouvement pivertiste s’interdit de séparer l’action résistante de la lutte pour la libération prolétarienne. Le sous-titre du journal ne ment pas : « Organe socialiste de libération prolétarienne ». Dès le premier numéro, on peut trouver ces lignes :

    Pourquoi l’Insurgé ? Parce que nous nous insurgeons contre toutes les puissances d’oppression, quelles qu’elles soient : nazisme, fascisme, église, capitalisme, et que nous sommes résolus à opérer la transformation radicale et révolutionnaire de la société pourrie vivant de la guerre et de la misère des classes prolétariennes, en une société socialisante où le bonheur ne sera pas un privilège et la misère une fatalité. [5]

    Le journal fait en quelques sortes songer aux cris du cœur d’un adolescent tout à la fois idéaliste et révolté. En associant les termes « nazisme », « fascisme » et « capitalisme », l’Insurgé semble à la fois se justifier et mettre en garde : le mouvement s’est créé avec la guerre et contre les allemands, certes, mais nazisme et fascisme ne viennent que s’ajouter à une liste d’ennemis qui comporte déjà le capitalisme.
    Le syndicalisme est inséparable du mouvement, et l’un des griefs principaux de l’Insurgé porte sur les politiques du travail et la toute puissance des trusts. Ainsi les militants diffusent-ils notamment des tracts d’appel à la grève, comme celle des cheminots de Vénissieux, ou encore celles des usines Berliet [6] . L’Insurgé lance également une grande offensive contre les départs en Allemagne au titre de Service de Travail Obligatoire (S.T.O.), en appelant encore à la grève.
    Les opinions très tranchées et volontiers assumées de l’Insurgé lui valent d’être un mouvement très indépendant, aussi bien par les distances que l’on souhaite observer à son égard, que par le désir des cadres eux-mêmes de ne pas s’allier avec des individus et groupes aux opinions et aux agissements trop éloignés des leurs. L’Insurgé restera jusqu’au bout un mouvement relativement marginal, conséquence de son originalité doctrinale.
    Mais relativement, seulement, puisqu’il serait faux d’affirmer que l’Insurgé n’entretient aucune relation avec les autres organes de la Résistance. Ainsi des contacts ont été pris avec les principaux mouvements [7] . Par exemple, Fugère et Godard entrent en contact avec André Philip et Libération Sud par l’intermédiaire de Pierre Stibbe, qui après avoir été l’un des pionniers de la réunion de Trévoux passe à Libération. Encore, Pierre Stibbe permet un contact avec Franc-Tireur et des rapports brefs sont esquissés avec le M.O.F.
    Mais les contacts sérieux demeurent ceux entretenus avec Combat et Libération.
    En octobre 1942, Libération Sud demande à l’Insurgé de lui faire régulièrement une partie de ses impressions. Dès novembre 1942, le petit imprimeur villeurbannais clandestin de l’Insurgé Martinet tire 10 000 exemplaires par mois de Libération. Ajouté à cela, des militants de l’Insurgé parmi lesquels Fugère, assurent des livraisons et une partie de la diffusion du grand journal de la Résistance. En échange de bons procédés, Libération fournit à l’Insurgé le papier nécessaire à son tirage [8] et propose de prendre en charge tous ses militants en situation dangereuse. Toujours en octobre 1942, l’Insurgé et Combat entreprennent une action commune contre le S.T.O. Les deux mouvements rédigent un tract en commun signé « L’Insurgé-Combat » [9] . Enfin, notons les bons rapports entretenus avec les toulousains de Libérer-Fédérer, mouvement à bien des égards analogue à l’Insurgé [10] .
    Malgré ces rapprochements et coopérations, l’Insurgé reste autonome. Fin 1942, Combat va ainsi tenter de provoquer une fusion, pour combler le manque d’éléments ouvriers dont il fait preuve. Fugère refuse. Libération propose également à l’automne 1942 l’adhésion de l’Insurgé à la France Combattante, mais cela n’aboutit pas [11] , et en juillet 1942, Raymond Aubrac, de Libération, s’insurge contre « ces communistes de 1930 ». En somme, l’Insurgé a toujours souhaité exister et s’est refusé à se perdre sous l’influence d’un « grand » de la Résistance. L’attachement de Fugère pour « son petit enfant », selon les mots de l’imprimeur Martinet, est sans doute également un élément déterminant pour comprendre comment l’Insurgé a pu continuer à exister à côté des Libération et autre Combat malgré sa précarité.

    Un mouvement socialiste rhodanien important

    L’Insurgé, malgré sa modestie et sa marginalité, doit être considéré comme un mouvement de Résistance  d’importance.
    Au niveau régional, le mouvement de M.G. Fugère, atteint un rayonnement conséquent. En plusieurs points de la zone Sud, des contacts sont renoués avec d’anciens militants du P.S.O.P. Le mouvement s’étend dans l’Ain, dans le Languedoc et à Montpellier, où les contacts Louis Tégaro et Valière sont eux-mêmes en relation avec Nîmes, Narbonne et Béziers, dans le Var, et dans les villes de Toulouse, de Saint Etienne, d’Avignon, de Grenoble, d’Annecy, de Clermont-Ferrand, etc.. [12]
    En marge de son influence et de sa portée, l’Insurgé se structure de façon identique à un autre « grand » mouvement. Il possède son journal, dont la parution est régulière et la diffusion relativement importante et il émet des tracts, comme ceux dénonçant les S.T.O. Il possède en outre un réseau de faux papiers, notamment à Villefranche sur Saône où se trouve un centre de gravure pour faux tampons (chez le graveur Valla), et recrute dans les milieux ouvriers des spécialistes de la gravure sur bronze pour les fausses cartes d’alimentation et les pièces d’identité. Martinet note qu’en septembre 1942, « les services des identités fonctionnent à plein. [13]». L’Insurgé possède aussi un maquis situé à Annecy, et un service médical assuré par le Docteur L. [14] , au 285 cours Lafayette à Lyon. Pour toutes ces raisons, à considérer l’importance de l’organisation du mouvement, l’Insurgé ne doit pas être sous-estimé.
    En outre, il doit également être considéré comme un mouvement socialiste, ou tout du moins comme un mouvement de forte influence socialiste. L’immense majorité de ses cadres et de ses militants sont en effet issus de la S.F.I.O. d’avant-guerre. Il faut cependant remarquer la particularité doctrinale qui anime la plupart d’entre eux, étant issus du P.S.O.P. de Marceau Pivert, mais il faut aussi constater le fait que ce jeune parti n’a fait scission qu’en 1938, et que Marceau Pivert demandera à ses fidèles de réintégrer le parti S.F.I.O. dès la fin de la guerre [15] , comme en témoigne l’une de ses lettres [16] :

    Le seul groupe de copains qui n’aient pas abandonné la lutte et l’action, c’est celui de Lyon. Malheureusement, il fut décimé comme vous devez le savoir, et ceux qui ont suivi Rous ont rejoint la S.F.I.O., mais Fugère est décidé à faire quelque chose dans le même sens… Je l’y ai encouragé… Je conseille donc de considérer le P.S.O.P. comme dépassé.

    Les acteurs de l’Insurgé doivent donc être considérés comme d’authentiques socialistes, et le mouvement, par l’extrême importance du nombre des socialistes qui l’animent, et par leurs qualités de fondateurs, de rédacteurs du journal et de leaders d’opinion, doit être considéré comme le mouvement de Résistance socialiste rhodanien.

    [1] A.D.R. (31JB74 et B20)
    [2] A.D.R. (31J B20) déposition de Martinet. Marcel Ruby ajoute la présence de communistes n’ayant pas admis le pacte germano-soviétique.
    [3] Il y a là une incertitude. La déposition de Martinet aux archives départementales du Rhône note que le premier numéro parait en octobre 1941. Cependant, Marcel Ruby dans son livre Résistance et contre résistance à Lyon et en Rhône—Alpes cite Fugère affirmant que le premier numéro est sorti en mars 1942. Le nom ayant été trouvé en janvier 1942, on privilégiera la date donnée par Fugère, tout en accordant le bénéfice du doute à Martinet. Il se peut qu’un « ancêtre » de l’Insurgé soit paru avant, mais que Fugère ne le considère pas comme tel.
    [4] Marcel Ruby, op.cit., p149.
    [5] Mémorial de l’Insurgé, textes et documents rassemblés par M.G. Fugère, présentés par Fernand Rude, imprimeries nouvelles, Lyon, 1968.
    [6] A.D.R. (31J B20)
    [7] A.D.R. (31J B20)
    [8] Marcel Ruby, op. cit., p149
    [9] Mémorial de l’Insurgé, op. cit.
    [10] Libérer-fédérer est, comme l’Insurgé, un petit mouvement régional qui cultive son originalité doctrinale et son indépendance. Lui aussi rassemble des militants catalogués à gauche du socialisme, disciples de l’antifasciste italien Silvio Trentin, dont les trois valeurs maîtresses sont : révolution, socialisme et fédéralisme.
    [11] A.D.R. (31 J B20) Martinet précise qu’il s’agit d’un refus des socialistes réformistes, sans s’étendre sur le sujet.
    [12] Mémorial de l’Insurgé, op. cit.
    [13] A.D.R. (31J B20)
    [14] Écrit en l’état dans les A.D.R., il rendit de « prodigieux services » selon Martinet.
    [15] Fugère fait parti de la commission des conflits de la fédération S.F.I.O. du Rhône dans les années qui suivent la guerre.
    [16] Fond ancien Fernand Rude, carton n° 249.

    Marxisme et révolution russe (Souyri, 1979)

    27 septembre 2009

    Série des derniers compte-rendus par Pierre Souyri parus dans les Annales, n° de juillet-août 1979 (numérisation par le site

    On aura lu dans les pages qui précèdent les derniers comptes rendus qu’a écrits Pierre Souyri. Il est mort le14 juillet 1979 dans sa maison du Royre, près d’Aurillac. Il avait cinquante-quatre ans. Depuis plus de dix ans, les lecteurs des Annales avaient appris à connaître la hauteur de vue et la rigueur de ce critique des idéologies de notre temps. L’un des premiers, il en avait compris la fonction; en témoigne, dès 1959, un article rare et réputé sur le régime bureaucratique en Chine, qu’il fit paraître, sous le pseudonyme de Pierre Brune, dans la revue Socialisme ou Barbarie dont il a été l’un des animateurs. Depuis, il avait écrit un Marxisme après Marx (1969) et il achevait un livre sur les figures du capitalisme dans la pensée marxiste.

    Souyri n’aimait pas la rhétorique universitaire, il n’aurait pas aimé un éloge posthume. Qu’il suffise ici de dire le vide qu’il laisse parmi nous, aux Annales: cette présence critique, tout à la fois généreuse et goguenarde, cette attention un peu désabusée nous manqueront.

    Interview des dirigeants syndicaux irakiens

    26 septembre 2009

    Democracy now a interviewé le 21 septembre les dirigeants syndicaux irakiens Rasim Awadi (Président de la Fédération générale des travailleurs irakiens, G.F.I.W.) et Falah Alwan (Président de la Fédération des conseils ouvriers et syndicats en Irak, F.W.C.U.I.):

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    Pour aider à la lecture de la vidéo en anglais nous publions la transcription de l’interview:

    AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to Iraq, where Vice President Biden recently pressed Iraqi leaders to enact further regulatory and financial protections to make Iraq more attractive to foreign investors. Speaking to Iraqi officials in Baghdad’s Green Zone last week, Biden called for the Iraqi Parliament to adopt laws to offer more incentives on oil concessions. He also noted the Iraq Business and Investment Conference in Washington next month could encourage private US investment in the country.

    Well, as the Vice President was in Iraq promoting privatization last week, a group of Iraqi labor leaders were here in the United States attending the AFL-CIO convention, trying to bring international attention to the lack of basic labor law in Iraq guaranteeing the right to unionize without repression.

    Although the United States has scrapped several Saddam Hussein-era laws since the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq, a 1987 law banning unions in all public-sector workplaces remains in place.

    The AFL-CIO adopted a resolution defending Iraqi labor rights last week, and US Labor Against the War is urging Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to press the Iraqi government to protect labor rights.

    For more now, I’m joined by two labor leaders from Iraq. Rasim Awadi is the president of the General Federation of Iraqi Workers, which was formed by the merger of three federations created by Iraqi workers following the 2003 invasion. And Falah Alwan is the president of the Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq. He was an underground labor activist throughout the ’90s, working in textile and factories and retail stores until the invasion. They will interpreted by Ali Issa.

    We welcome you to Democracy Now!

    I would like to start with Rasim Awadi. The situation of labor law, or lack of it, in Iraq?

    RASIM AWADI: [translated] Actually, there’s a complete lack of labor law for the Iraqi working class, and the laws now in effect are the same ones that Saddam set in place in the past regime. And for this reason, the Iraqi labor movement is limited in what it can do and is subject to past labor laws, in addition to the fact that Iraqi labor union leaders are trying to re-enliven some of the labor union activism in the public sector. And since 2003, many of the labor unions have resurrected the structure and the infrastructure of unions and have pushed back on some of the old labor laws that unified one union only as the representative of Iraqi workers.

    But we still suffer from three main points: the lack of a general labor law, 51 percent of unemployment, a complete lack of a stable service sector for workers. So, a lack of a retirement plan, social security and social services for workers are not there. For that reason, workers are in a very dangerous position since the occupation, but we hope that some of our union leaders will be able to realize what Iraqi workers hope for.

    AMY GOODMAN: Falah Alwan, has the US invasion and occupation led to democracy in Iraq? You were an underground labor activist through the 1990s?

    FALAH ALWAN: Yeah.

    AMY GOODMAN: What’s happening now?

    FALAH ALWAN: Yeah, let me give you an image about what happened to the society, not only to the activists, after the occupation. All what we gained is the devastation of the fundamental basis of the industries and the infrastructure of the society and lack of the rights of the women and reducing of the financial to support or to provide the services in general. Until now, there is no law to protect the workers or all—there is no labor law to the workers to protect their rights to organize themselves or to create their unions.

    For example, since about two or three weeks, we tried only to take a permission to hold a peaceful gathering to the workers of the food industries in Baghdad, but the authorities refused to give us the right to hold a peaceful demonstration of the 350 workers who threatened to be—to lose their jobs and to privatize and to cancel their companies. This is an example of the democracy in the society.

    If you ask me about the differences between the fascism era of Saddam and now, the people can talk, people can issue statements. But in the reality, the authorities didn’t give us the right to implement our demands or to improve the conditions of the workers or to improve the whole situation of the workers’ rights or even of the all society. Yeah.

    AMY GOODMAN: Who is in charge in Iraq?

    FALAH ALWAN: I think both the occupation forces and the authorities which were imposed by the occupation itself. As you know, after 2003, the occupation imposed authorities according to dividing the people, dividing the society, according the religion, the language, the tribe, the—and they imposed a so-called “governing council.” Until now, the authority is still as it was before. They created a religious atmosphere of the society. They imposed very oppressive laws against women, against the workers, and against the whole freedoms. Yeah.

    AMY GOODMAN: Falah Alwan, I want to switch gears, as we come to the end of the discussion—that’s oil privatization. Biden, our Vice President, was in Iraq promoting privatization. What’s happening with oil and workers in Iraq?

    FALAH ALWAN: Well, I think privatization of the oil is the economical dimension of the occupation itself. So, it is the main important issue for the occupation to impose the privatization, but there is a mass refusing to this project. That is why they are privatization—privatizing the oil indirectly by the leases or by the contracts with the companies.

    You can see that the US administration insists to impose this so-called oil law in the time that they are never intervene to impose a worker law or to urge the Iraqi authorities to expand the workers’ rights. I think the privatization of the oil is a strategic task of the US administration. So, it is a main dimension of the occupation.

    AMY GOODMAN: Rasim Awadi, you’re here in the United States. You’re going back to Iraq on Wednesday. Your final message to the American people?

    RASIM AWADI: [translated] We first ask that the American people put pressure on their government to withdraw American forces from Iraq. And second, we ask the American people to assist us in reinstalling our infrastructure, from education, water, electricity; all these things that have been abandoned in our society.

    And during our trip now, we got a lot of support from the American working class through their unions, and we thank them for that support. And the American working class showed their support and willingness to aid the Iraqi working class.

    AMY GOODMAN: Rasim Awadi and Falah Alwan, labor leaders from Iraq, I thank you very much for being with us.

    Soirée autour de Benjamin Péret et les Amériques

    26 septembre 2009

    Maison de l’Amérique Latine
    217, Boulevard Saint Germain
    75007 Paris
    01 49 54 75 00

    Mardi 29 septembre à 18h30:

    Programme de la soirée sur le site de l’association des amis de Benjamin Péret:

    10 nouveaux pdf

    25 septembre 2009

  • 1871 La 3° défaite du prolétariat français [Malon] pdf
  • 1907-08 Conférence internationale de la Jeunesse socialiste pdf
  • 1926 Syndicalisme et unité [Pivert] pdf
  • 1928-07 Analyse critique du projet de Monzie [Pivert] pdf
  • 1929-01 Un mort: Robert Pellerin [Pivert] pdf
  • 1929-03 Exposé sur l’école unique [Pivert] pdf
  • 1932-11 Les jeunes socialistes et le désarmement [Zyromski] pdf
  • 1935-06 Il faudra choisir [Pivert] pdf
  • 1960-01 Robert Owen à Paris en 1848 [Rubel] pdf
  • 1974 Premiers pas de militantisme [Laugier] pdf
  • Lettre à ‘La seule voie’ (RKD, 1942)

    24 septembre 2009

    Paru dans La Seule Voie N°5-6 (octobre-novembre 1942). La Seule Voie était une  organisation trotskyste qui devait se faire connaître à partir de mars 1943 sous l’appellation de Comité Communiste Internationaliste (CCI). Nous avons récemment publié la très léniniste plateforme des RKD. Ce courrier éclaire leur relation au trotskysme dont ils étaient récemment sortis. La réponse des trotskystes fut aussi claire que prévisible: "Il y a erreur: vous vous êtes trompés d’adresse".

    Camarades du groupe La Seule Voie,

    La situation actuelle du mouvement ouvrier est caractérisée:

    1° – par un manque absolue du parti révolutionnaire,

    2° – par les répression qui sévit dans tous les milieux, staliniens, centristes, et dans nos propres milieux.

    Étant persuadés que la sauvegarde d’une organisation politique est indispensablement liée aux conceptions politiques de la dite organisation, nous pouvons constater que la banqueroute de la "IV° Internationale" comme organisation ne fait que prouver et suivre sa banqueroute complète dans le domaine politique. L’effondrement de la "4ème" était donc inévitable. Inversement, on peut conclure que les organisations révolutionnaires qui ont su résister à la répression et, par-dessus, faire du progrès, dans le domaine politique et organisationnel, prouvent d’une certaine valeur, prouvent de leur juste appréciation de la situation actuelle et de leurs conceptions politiques.

    Camarades, rendez-vous compte que nos deux organisations sont les deux seules en France à qui incombent le travail révolutionnaire, la formation du parti révolutionnaire, et la construction de la IV° Internationale Communiste. C’est une responsabilité formidable qui nous incombe. Il faut que chacun de nous soit bien conscient de cette responsabilité envers le prolétariat et, en fin de compte, envers toute l’humanité qui souffre des ravages de la boucherie impérialiste. Or, de ce fait, une collaboration étroite s’impose. Malgré les divergences politiques qui nous séparent, je peux déclarer que dans les questions principielles actuelles (guerre impérialiste, question nationale, perspectives de pouvoir), nous partageons les mêmes points de vue. Déjà ces seules questions nous obligent à un travail étroit, tout en sauvegardant nos organisations indépendantes et en continuant à discuter les autres questions où nos conceptions divergent.

    Malgré les divergences politiques encore existantes, le R.K.D. vous considère comme l’organisation frère, comme la section française de la future Internationale Communiste, en se considérant lui-même comme la section A.

    La "4° Internationale Communiste" est morte comme organisation, comme Internationale, elle n’a jamais existé. Un obstacle de plus à la construction de la véritable 4ème Internationale Communiste nous est enlevé. Sachons exploiter cette situation. En avant pour la construction du parti prolétarien. En avant pour la 4ème Internationale Communiste.

    Le délégué du R.K.D.


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