Volume 7, No. 7, August-September-October, 2006


Reply to Article in AWTW on tactics towards WSF and MR-2004

{This reply to the AWTW article printed in the 2005/31 issue of their magazine, was written in Jan.2006 and sent to the CoRIM for printing in their magazine, ‘A World To Win", as part of the ongoing debate on the WSF. But we now find that the next issue of AWTW, 2006/32, is now out and does not contain our reply. That is why we are now printing the reply in this issue of our magazine….. Editor}


The article replying to the PM critique chiefly repeats the points mentioned in the letter of CoRim of Dec.8th 2003 and re-asserting the points therein. We will not repeat the points mentioned in the People’s March critique but merely deal with the points at a larger plane, and the implication that these have on tactics against the enemy.

Here we will deal with the question of class analysis (pt II in the article) then come to the question of UF and tactics (dealt within point 1 of the AWTW article, printed in 2005/31) and lastly deal with the question of ideology in the same three points that the article has taken up.

1) Question of Class Analysis

After once again denying that the CoRIM views the WSF as an "anti-imperialist organisation" the entire section II. Class Analysis of the WSF, does not anywhere take a clear-cut stand on the class character of the WSF. It deals with a number of other factors but does not conclude what is its class content. Any real revolutionary tactics can only follow first from an understanding as to the class nature of the WSF. Afterall, to have a thorough understanding of the class forces at play in any given situation is a pre-requisite for devising correct tactics. This is fundamental to the issue, but the AWTW article seeks too obfuscate the issue. Let us see what it says regarding the class character of WSF and its leadership.

Firstly, the closest the article comes to defining the class content of the WSF is in the earlier section where it says that "There are many arenas in which leadership is in the hands of opponents of proletarian revolution…….". This is a very vague statement as opponents of proletarian revolution can be pro-imperialist, but they can also be petti-bourgeois revolutionaries, petti-bourgeois reformists, national bourgeois, etc. It is fundamental to understand what the exact class nature is if we are to devise correct tactics. It is not correct to lump all non-proletarian class forces together for devising tactics as then the proletariat will not be able to differentiate between those non-proletarian forces that may be positive and those reactionary. Also the statement says that there are many arenas where the leadership is in the hands of opponents of proletarian revolution. It is not clear which these are. It should be clearly stated, otherwise all such statements made, only add to the confusion.

The methodology adopted by the author of the article, particularly in this section, is that in order to avoid making a clear-cut stand it takes subsidiary issues and makes these the basis of giving a picture of the WSF. Like it says that, some of the leaders or financial backers of the WSF do see it…. as "a safety valve" for the imperialist system. But what about the overall leadership!! Do some of the leadership not see it as a "safety-valve". It would be best if the AWTW identified these leaders. Such an eclectic approach is visible throughout — some of the leaders, many arenas in which leadership, etc, must be qualified with what is the principle character of the leadership and the line that it gives the WSF. Without understanding the principle aspect of an entity it is impossible to have a full understanding of it.

So, without analyzing all the forces in the WSF leadership and the programme of the WSF, it merely makes a reference to one of its constituents, that too somewhat favourably. It gives a clean chit to ATTAC and is silent on the ruling-class social democrats and NGOs that basically wield control over it. Even assuming there is a debate on ATTAC what about all the other forces and financiers? At the International plane there is Lula’s party, Social-democratic leaders/ministers from Europe, etc., and in India there was the CPI/CPM that dominates these bodies in conjunctions with high-flying NGOs. Why is the AWTW article still silent about these forces in the leadership of the WSF? Also why again does not the article say a word on the role of these imperialist-funded NGOs which have become a major weapon to infiltrate the poor and their movements to divert them from the revolutionary path? Also why is it silent on the massive source of funds to the WSF from well established imperialist agencies? Finally not a word is mentioned on the WSF programme and structure. No doubt many positive elements have been associated with the WSF; but it is not these that determine its class character — that is decided by its leadership.

One would have expected that these issues would have been analysed to get to the class character of the WSF. But this is not done but instead takes up a number of issues that seeks to divert from such an analysis. In fact in section II which is entitled Class Analysis of the WSF, it does not even make an attempt to analyse the class character of the WSF, and mostly deals with other factors, which too we shall discuss below. People’s March (as also Aspects of Indian Economy) has had a series of articles analysing the WSF, NGOs and even the elements that dominated the Mumbai WSF event. No such attempt is made either to counter those detailed analyses or to do an independent analysis. Without a proper understanding into its class essence, what tactics can it devise?

Now let us look at the numerous issues most of which are unrelated to the issue of the Class Analysis of the WSF:

1st Diversionary Point: The AWTW article says: There is also the important contradiction between the leadership and the organisations and masses participating in the WSF……… This is an obvious fact and if it was not so there would have not been any MR. It is precisely because there is a huge mass of people being pitted against imperialism and war that the sponsors of WSF have sought this "safety valve". But, more on this later. In fact PM’s contention is that because of the growing movement such a WSF was necessary to act as a safety valve. So, on this there is no debate; the contradiction is obviously there between the leadership and the mass attending. In fact in every bourgeois and revisionist organization there is such a contradiction between the rank-and-file and the leadership. It is a fact that even the movement led by Gandhi, the most trusted stooge of the British imperialists, drew millions of people, yet he too served as a safety-valve for people to vent their anger and to divert the movement from the revolutionary path. The mere participation of the masses and progressive forces does not alter the class character of the party of individuals leading the movement. So this is not such a complex point as AWTW seeks to make out. Revolutionaries must seek to win over the rank-and-file in all cases, while isolating the leadership. Here the article also sought to distort the reality and there was no bar on those taking part in WSF coming to MR. Precisely in order to impact on the positive forces attending the WSF the MR was in fact organized right opposite the WSF to try and attract those forces to the MR alternative. And there were no such criteria as taking a stand on postmodernism to be a part of MR. This flexibility was precisely the difference between the MR approach and that of the boycottist/sectarianism of the CPI(ML)New Democracy and SOC {State Organising Committee of Tamilnadu} type organisations.

2nd Diversionary Point: On the issue of safety-valve the article says: But what is more to the point is that however people may deceive themselves, or others, any political programme that is not linked to the fight for proletarian political power will ultimately become a "safety valve" for the reactionary system, even if it does not begin as one. This is an excellent example of formal logic as opposed to dialectics. To equate a conscious plan of the imperialists/reactionaries to diffuse movements with the spontaneous movements led by non-proletarian forces is dangerous as it plays down the seriousness for understanding imperialist tactics and planning measures to counter it, and also because it, in effect, looks down at the spontaneous movement of the masses just because it is not led by MLM forces. Logically what the AWTW article says may sound correct, but from a class point of view it is dangerous. The British established the Congress Party in India to act as a safety valve; then there were thousands of anti-British upsurges not led by any proletarian forces. Can we equate the two? So also, WSF came into being during the huge mass upsurges, which continued even after its establishment. We cannot equate these movements with the WSF. Unfortunately the RW has done just that in its earlier reports on the WSF. Today the vast network of imperialist-funded NGOs also plays a similar role of a "safety-valve". To reduce spontaneous movements and imperialist conspiracies to the same common denominator of "safety-valve" negates a class view point to understand the objective situation and our ability to effectively intervene in it.

3rd Diversionary Point: As a corollary to the above the article says: Can we conclude that the communists need not participate in the different struggles, movements and forums involving the masses that they do not lead?......... With the logic of PM, communists would have had to refrain from participating in many or most of the important political actions that have taken place in the West in the last few years against imperialist globalisation, the Iraq war and other crimes of imperialism. Most of these actions were also led by forces, in many cases the same forces involved with the WSF, who could be considered "pro-imperialist" by PM’s criteria. This is precisely the point. The struggles with the Seattle demonstrations were intensifying and getting more militant when the WSF was formed; they existed before the WSF and also after it was formed. The situation was getting so bad that it was getting difficult for the imperialists to hold their gatherings. Of course, many of the forces in WSF were involved in the huge demonstrations. Some try and divert these very forces into pacifist opposition, others continue to go beyond the confines set by the WSF leadership. We all need to ask that after 4-5 years of Porto Alegeres has it helped the movement advance or not. If not, why? The very purpose of the WSF was to deflect these very forces from greater politicization and militant struggles. It is in this situation that the WSF comes along with its vehement opposition to all forms of violent protest and seeks to replace the venue of struggles from the streets and barricades to the carnivals of Porto Alegere. Communists must not just be part of those demonstrations but stand in the forefront. No one will listen to our MLM treatise if we merely lecture them; it is while being in the forefront of such struggles that we can impress on others with our views. But the WSF is quite different, though the forces involved may overlap. It is a consciously planned platform with a definite agenda. The topics are pre-planned and most (as in Mumbai) are those linked to the NGO/postmodernist agenda with millions of dollars pumped in. As already mentioned the two are not the same ………. i.e. a spontaneous mass upsurge and a consciously planned platform. Quite obviously the methods of intervention (we will deal with this later) are quite different and should not be lumped together as the AWTW article does. Of course if we have a mere one-point agenda of propagation of our MLM view then these fine distinctions have little value as we merely distribute our handbills and give our speeches everywhere. But the key aspect is not mere propaganda but organizational and political consolidation and the intensification of the class struggle. . Propaganda is of significance only if it is accompanied by both organizational and political consolidation and the intensification of the class struggle. For this the distinction between political platforms organized by the moneybags and mass spontaneous upsurges must be clearly made.

4th Diversionary Point: Question of practice: In this same section the AWTW article says: Nowhere is PM’s confusion more evident than in the way it tries to distinguish the armed struggles led by forces such as the armed social-democrats of the EZLN in Mexico (the Zapatistas) and the armed revisionists of the FARC in Columbia from the kind of generally unarmed social-democrat and revisionist forces playing a leading role in the WSF. Whether one pressures the existing state structures through a single dramatic armed action followed by a decade of seeking a negotiated participation in the reactionary state machinery, as the EZLN has done, or whether one tries more consistently to advance one’s goals through strikes or elections, as some WSF leaders have done, is really not a fundamental distinction. Revolutionaries, reformists and counter-revolutionaries alike can use violence or relatively peaceful forms of struggle, such as negotiations, strikes or gheraoes (mass encirclements). What fundamentally distinguishes one from another is what line, what strategy, and what objectives are followed by a political grouping and the different tactics that flow from this. It is reversing cause and effect to focus on the armed or unarmed nature of a given political force and then try on that basis to extrapolate its political nature. Here we have quoted at length as this point is given much importance and repeated in a number of places.

Firstly it goes without saying that for there to be real/radical change in the system it must be led by genuine proletarian forces which today are those that have MLM as their guidance, adopt a revolutionary political/organizational/military line and have serious practice on that basis. On this there is no debate.

But, to merely say the above is an absolutist approach to the question. Marxist dialectics teaches us that nothing in this world is absolute; everything is relative. An absolutist approach goes against dialectics. One divides into two and every phenomena, when broken down will have two aspects ……. the positive and the negative. An absolutist approach does not try and understand the aspects at play but only looks at the phenomena as it finally appears. It does not understand that all phenomena are in a process of continuous change due to the unity and struggle of opposites within it. It is only by understanding these aspects in struggle can communist intervention help the process of transformation and development of all forces in the interests of revolution. Not to see this results in an academic approach which serves little tactical purpose. And without tactics no strategy can be implemented.

So in order to have correct tactics we must study such political formations in depth, and not lump all in one category. Though none of the forces mentioned above may have a revolutionary programme (and also they are not reactionaries), for the sake of tactics it is necessary to study their practice and role in class struggle. So, non-proletarian forces involved in people’s movements, can be of various kinds: those involved in armed struggle against an imperialist power; those involved in militant actions and strikes; those involved in mere reform work, those involved only in TU negotiations and passive economism; those involved merely in electioneering; etc etc. ( we are not even considering those floated by reactionaries to divert movements and act as safety valves) Quite naturally the former type which are more deeply and actively involved in the class struggle have a more positive element to them while the latter are more negative. More in depth analysis of each in relation to the on-going class struggle would also be necessary to understand the specificity in each case. Such analysis is fundamental if we are to devise correct tactics to win over the maximum force to the revolution and build effective UFs. Besides, at any one time it is necessary to pin-point the principal enemy and unite all forces fighting against it, under proletarian leadership. The problem with the AWTW approach is that it negates the need to understand the role of such forces in the on-going class struggles. So, it equates the WSF carnival with the struggles at the barricades, it lumps together, strike activity and election politics; strikes/gheraos and negotiations; and finally peaceful and violent struggles. So in reality, however compromising they may be politically, the armed struggles in Columbian and Chiapas is directed against America for which hundreds have given their lives. The US is determined to crush them either with guns or through peace talks. There too lakhs are taking part (not just in the WSF), most of whom are the most oppressed. Even if the AWTW is unable to distinguish between these, the imperialists and reactionaries do — brutally crushing the violent and militant, while pampering the peaceful and reformist.

The practical role in the class struggle is an important criteria to assess forces for any tactics. Mere repetition of strategic concepts without having tactical plans is abstract and counter-productive.

Finally to conclude this section, we repeat once again that it is the leadership that gives the class character of any organization as it is they who set the line for the organization, its structure, its orientation, etc etc. For this reason as the WSF leadership is basically pro-imperialist it has that class character and acts as a safety-valve to diffuse the ongoing struggle against imperialism. But as regards its constituents many will be positive forces. In concrete struggle activities we shall definitively unite with them on the streets. We do not therefore put in the same category much of the rank-and-file of these organization and the masses being rallied by the hundreds of organizations, in the same category as the leadership. Our entire approach has been to precisely bring these forces out of the ideological influence of the WSF leadership.

II Question of Intervention and UF

Regarding the question of "participation" in the WSF the AWTW article says: The fact of the matter is that tens of thousands of leaflets with a revolutionary orientation were distributed at the WSF by forces associated with RIM. Wasn’t this a good thing? No doubt it was. But how effective was it given each of the hundreds of organisations also distributed such leaflets on a big scale. The involvement of revolutionaries in MR did not in anyway restrict such propaganda. Infact as already mentioned in the PM article CCOMPOSA and others such organisations also distributed leaflets in both the programmes. They even booked stalls for the sale of their literature within the WSF. Forces associated with the sponsors of the MR even went the venue of the WSF to raise questions, etc and participate in the debates, though not officially.

Carrying revolutionary propaganda is only one aspect of political intervention, and not the most important. The main point is the need also for political and organizational consolidation and a deepening of the struggle against imperialism with a long term perspective. This is to be done, not only at the Party level which is mentioned in the CoRIM letter, but also at the UF level. What CoRIM and the AWTW article seems to ignore is the latter. In this case it would mean political and organizational consolidation of the maximum number of anti-imperialist forces on the programme set by the revolutionaries and to draw them from the sphere of endless debates to actual struggles against imperialism. This would have been impossible from within the WSF given its structure, controls, politics and amorphousness. So, the need for an MR type programme to facilitate the building of an alternative pole within the anti-imperialist movement. In organizing it there may have been some lacunae; that is not the point. This can always be improved with more experience. The point is the perspective and the class standpoint to be taken, propagated and consolidated. It is only through such a process that the anti-imperialist struggle can grow in a spiral like way — both in its extent and in depth.

The problem with both the RIM letter and the AWTW article is that it does not see the need for uniting with all anti-imperialist forces on a minimum programme, but only sees the need to propagate the "revolutionary line", that too mostly in abstraction. In the present case pushing the "revolutionary line" would entail a thoroughgoing exposure of the WSF and then presenting an alternative. In addition the CoRIM does not seek to try and analyse the affectivity of such intervention in real practice. Good intentions and "pure" politics serve little purpose unless they are linked to the concrete practice of advancing the class struggle at the ground level and thorough-going and concrete political exposures and solid organisational consolidation of all positive forces against the main enemy.

In this section the AWTW article does admit that It is true, but tautological, to argue that the possibility of putting forward a revolutionary viewpoint will be greater in forums organised by revolutionaries. But it is also a fact that in its approach the AWTW tends to put both WSF and MR in a similar bracket eulogizing in fact the thousands that come for the WSF with little or no mention of the political advantages to have been gained from the MR. On the contrary its political standpoint on MR has, in essence, been viewed as being over-critical of the WSF (as on the question of the WSF slogan, postmodernism, analysis of ATTAC, etc). In effect the approach of AWTW is to focus on the WSF and giving no real role to the MR-type event. Overall this comes from a positive approach to the WSF and not, in real terms, considering it as some form of "an anti-imperialist organisation". That is why even in section II it avoids a clear-cut stand. That is why it wanted MR to tone down its criticism of WSF. But, if it did that, the very reason for holding the MR event would cease to exist.

Then again, as in Section II, the AWTW article says: From the days of Marx and Engels to the present, communists have participated in trade unions, co-operatives, cultural associations, organisational committees for political campaigns, etc. - the list is endless. And then adds: no serious revolutionary movement in any country can avoid intervening in diverse forms and organisations. So the question of the leadership of an organisation alone cannot answer the question of whether or not it is correct for communists to participate in a given political event. We have no argument with this whatsoever. The point however is can a political platform like WSF, floated by its sponsors, be compared to the trade unions, co-operatives, cultural associations, organisational committees for political campaigns, etc. We think not. In addition what should be the nature of the intervention? Let us look at both these points:

The WSF is a political platform set up by its sponsors and financiers while the other organizations are those of the workers to fight for their interests. How can the two be compared? They are quite different. The former is set up for a political purpose while the latter come up in the course of the struggles of the working class against the bourgeoisie. So, the method of intervention will quite obviously be different. On the question of the nature of the intervention, MR too was a method of intervention. The propagation of revolutionary politics was not done by MR but by the parties directly and their literature. This was done widely in both MR and WSF independently of the MR constituents. So, what AWTW/RIM says should have been the main task was anyhow done. But the point was how best to effectively expose the fake opposition of the WSF leadership and help the process of developing an alternative and genuine anti-imperialist pole within the anti-globalisation movement. This was best done from without the WSF than from within. One reason for this being that from within it was not possible to draw clear lines of demarcation as numerous trends exist. Earlier dissent from within at the Porto Alegere has shown this. Besides, the very structure of WSF would not allow effective opposition to the political content. Secondly, anarchy reigns at the WSF (for the participants, not the leadership who run the show and plan the major political content), so the consolidation of positive forces is not possible within the WSF. Thirdly the MR created a platform for all those anti-imperialist forces that saw through the hoax of the anti-imperialism of the ruling social-democrats and the NGOs. Fourthly, it was able to pose this alternative internationally and throughout India on a large scale to those who even went to the WSF.

There is no all-encompassing theory on how and when to intervene in on-going events. No generalizations in such questions help develop creative tactics. The important question must be a clear-cut class approach to the events (in this case the WSF) and clear cut aims and plans on how best to use the situation to intensify the class struggle (in this case the anti-imperialist struggle); which entails the most effective process for political exposure, organizational consolidation (at various levels ……….. party, UF, etc) and intensified struggles. The tactics in a given situation will be determined by these factors. With the AWTW/RIM vague on its stand towards the WSF and with no approach for uniting all anti-imperialist forces to create a genuine anti-imperialist pole within the on-going movement, it is reduced to the one point approach of merely propagating the MLM ‘line’ within the WSF (and MR). There can be no real MLM "line" on this issue (or for that matter any issue) without a clear-cut class analysis on the event being dealt with!!!.

III The Question of Ideology

When the PM article has already clarified the CoRIM accusation that "in MR rejection of post-modernism a pre-requisite for unity in what should be a united front effort like Mumbai Resistance can only lead to unnecessary divisiveness", we wonder why this is repeated in the AWTW article. Nowhere was this made a criteria, the point made in the PM article was that post-modernism is a dangerous anti-Marxist ideology and should be widely attacked and there should be no ban on attacking it in MR as suggested in the RIM letter.

In fact this entire section on "ideology" has only created a bogey unconnected to what PM has ever said (regarding MR there certainly may have been some flaws in the method of building a broad front) as there has been no question of denying that there are different ideologies that are contending within the movement of opposition to globalization and that there was need for communist intervention. It has been explained earlier and repeated now how this was also done. The point to be repeated is that this can only be done not by repeating again and again the need for independent ideological work, but by a concrete class analysis of WSF and a political and organizational plan for the consolidation and intensification of a genuine anti-imperialist movement.

Further, to deflect from the serious political error in RIM’s approach the AWTW article has now raised some extraneous issue of: danger of forgetting the role of communists in presenting and fighting for their ideology and instead looking for some sort of "united front" or "anti-imperialist" ideology. Such a search is both illusory and dangerous. This has never been raised or implied anywhere by PM articles. Let us repeat the point on the question of UF tactics and the question of ideology.

While not repeating the arguments detailedly explained in the PM article to thoroughly expose the politics of the WSF (its programme, its central slogan, its anarchical method, its ideologies, etc) we re-assert that it is necessary to unite with all forces genuinely fighting imperialism, while at the same time exposing and struggling against their short-comings, inconsistencies, and ideological deviations. Today, in this period of the all-round and massive offence of imperialism on the backward countries of the world many forces and various sections of the people are rising against it. These may be post-modernist, Islamic, Gandhian, liberal Marxists, Trotskyites, nationality and other patriotic forces, etc. Whatever their ideology their basic class content is petti-bourgeois and in some cases maybe national bourgeois. Yet, all these should not be equated and given equal importance, and they should be gauged by the extent and depth of their actual practice in fighting imperialism at the ground level. Proletarian forces must unite with them against the common enemy after due consideration of their actual role in the struggles against the varied aspects of the imperialist offensive. And while doing so they must struggle against their incorrect ideologies, whether it is postmodernist, Islamic, Gandhian, Trotskite, etc. Nowhere has it been raised that there should be some sort of "united front" or "anti-imperialist" ideology.

It must be remembered that these NGOs and social-democrats and for that matter the WSF’s important aim (besides others) is to create a wedge between the revolutionaries and other democratic and progressive sections, to isolate the revolutionaries, making it easier for them to be crushed. We should not fall into their trap either through a sectarian or a tailist approach. The WSF has a clear-cut ideological agenda — that "another world is possible" without struggle or revolution. This too is the consistent agenda of the NGOs and social democrats. It is this agenda that has to be clearly countered, and in the most effective and thorough-going manner possible. People’s March, in its series of articles, as also Aspects of Indian Economy in its special issue, to a large extent attempted this. No such attempt is seen in AWTW.

One last point that the AWTW article mentions in a "Footnote" which says Actually PM refers to "the leadership" of any organisation and not the line. While the question of leadership and line are closely intertwined, it is in our opinion more correct to focus on the question of political and ideological line. Now this is splitting hairs. Who sets the political and ideological line? The leadership or the rank-and-file of any organization? When we speak of leadership it also entails the line that they set for the organization. Besides, the AWTW/RIM has nowhere tried even to analyse the line, programme, constitution, etc of the WSF. This has been analysed at length in earlier PM articles. Besides, merely setting a line in abstraction is of little significance if it is not clearly linked to practice. There is often much radical talk (particularly this has been so in India) but little practice in that direction.


In conclusion we would appeal to the CoRIM to come out with its clear-cut stand on the programme of the WSF as well as on post-modernism and the NGOs flooding the world, instead of indulging in abstract analysis and referring to points unrelated to the subject or to the standpoint expressed in the PM articles. We hope that it clearly states how to practically go about uniting the maximum forces in the given situation, while thoroughly exposing the leadership of the NGOs and social-democrats, to build the most effective and widest possible front against the imperialists, particularly US imperialism, under proletarian leadership. Given the vicious offensive of imperialist globalization, this is the burning need of the day.

January 1, 2006




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