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Introductory Speech ICOR Founding Conference

(held by Stefan Engel on behalf of the International Preparatory Group, 6 October 2010)
Dear Comrades,

On behalf of the International Preparatory Group and as provisional main coordinator in the initial phase of the preparatory process, I warmly welcome you to the Founding Conference of ICOR.

We have come together here to set up an international organization for cooperation and for the coordination of the practical work of revolutionary parties and organizations in party building and in class struggle.

67 years after the dissolution of the Third International we venture the step towards a new international organization of the revolutionary proletariat and all the oppressed masses fighting for their liberation. This initiative is necessary to raise the level of the struggle against world imperialism, which has carried the exploitation and oppression of the vast number of dependent and oppressed countries to extremes with its neocolonial methods.

Of course, this can not be about, and is not intended to be about, the reestablishment of the Comintern, which had formed around the nucleus of the socialist Soviet Union as a bastion of proletarian world revolution.

The goal is to make a contribution to the reorganization of the international revolutionary and working-class movement taking into account the lessons from the past and the concrete conditions and tasks of the present and the future.

The cross-border coordination of the work of revolutionary parties and organizations should combine with making contributions to overcoming their ideological-political fragmentation and differences, supporting each other in the class struggle in the individual countries and becoming a very visible international force.

Following the deep split in the international communist movement – with the 20th Party Congress of the CPSU in 1956 as starting point – the international revolutionary and working-class movement suffered its deepest setback.

Once strong revolutionary working-class parties degenerated into reformist, bourgeois parties; a number of revolutionary organizations became hopelessly split and fragmented; the revolutionary working-class movement downright marginalized itself in various countries, and reactionary anticommunism penetrated deep into the masses.

It took a long time until the steadfast revolutionary parties and organizations undertook the effort again mainly to seek cooperation at first, to clear up differences in an objective way, and to reach out to each other.

That has happened since the end of the 1980s initially at international seminars, conferences and in public debates.

Now, in the international revolutionary and working-class movement the situation has matured for taking a major step forward to a durably organized cooperation in practice.

The founding of ICOR should become a milestone for the unification of the international revolutionary and working-class movement.

The positive process of cognition regarding the necessity of the international, practical cooperation of revolutionary parties and organizations was furthered by the objective developments.

In the 1990s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the former CMEA, in the capitalist world economy a reorganization of international production on the basis of liberalized markets took place.

On the basis of the general tendency of capitalist production towards internationalization, an unprecedented cross-border process of concentration raised the capitalist division of labor to an internationalized level.

That led to profound social changes in the framework of the imperialist world system. Humanity is confronted with the comprehensive effects of this development only gradually.

The most drastic effects were the armed aggression against Afghanistan and Iraq, which was passed off as a "fight against international terrorism", and the world economic and financial crisis in 2008, whose, depth, scope and course is without parallel in the history of capitalism.

The internationalization of the markets, of production and trade also entailed corresponding changes in the liberation struggle of the working class and the masses of the people.

Alongside the class struggle in the national framework a very visible tendency to international class struggle established itself.

  • Was it not almost 19 million people in 660 cities worldwide who simultaneously demonstrated against the imminent aggression of US imperialism against Iraq on 15 February 2003?

  • Didn't an internationally networked active resistance in 100 countries to rescue the world climate from ruthless destruction by the imperialists and monopolies establish itself in December 2009 in Copenhagen?

  • Didn't the cross-border strike of the dockworkers in 2005 scuttle the European port liberalization law?

  • Didn't the countries of Latin America defeat the planned US-dominated South American free trade zone in a joint struggle?

  • And most recently, since 2004, haven't the now corporation-wide and cross-border strikes in Europe repeatedly become reality?

How else can the masses defend themselves against the internationally coordinated activities of the international monopolies and imperialists except by coordinating their class struggle across borders?

 

With the outbreak of the world economic and financial crisis in 2008, the world saw an international crisis management of the 20 biggest industrial countries and their monopolies – together they account for more than 90 percent of the world domestic product – which is unique to date.

To prevent the collapse of the world financial system, to head off an uncontrolled collapse of the world economy and above all to potentially head off social unrest as basis of a cross-border revolutionary ferment, no less than 24 trillion US dollars were spent to date worldwide and the national budgets of all countries rigorously plundered.

Of course, the international crisis management of the leading international monopolies and the imperialist governments was only of a temporary nature until it was again superseded by mutual unrelenting rivalry to seek one's own best advantage.

Moreover, it is an incontestable fact that the international crisis management greatly intensifies the danger of state bankruptcy, which led in early 2010 to the euro crisis.

Such a gigantic crisis management effort cannot be repeated any time one chooses, because it is not possible to shift the virtually immeasurable burdens of the crisis onto the shoulders of the broad masses at will, without dangerously intensifying the general destabilization of the imperialist world system for the ruling forces.

Everywhere in the world the protests have taken on the character of a struggle against this shifting of the crisis burdens onto the masses' backs.

But in many cases this still happens without coordination, spontaneously, and mostly led by reformists and opportunists, which of course robs these struggles of their society-changing thrust, diminishes their success or even leads to their defeat.

With the growing proneness of the imperialist world system to crisis, in future a tendency to a revolutionary crisis also will emerge and grow.

The broad masses, the working class, the peasants, the students and women must prepare themselves for this in their struggle, in their thinking, feeling and acting.

For that they need the international unity that will make them an invincible force in the struggle against imperialism and for a socialist society.

The unification of the revolutionary potential in the entire world is an objective necessity – also for the class struggle in the individual countries.

It is time to overcome the fragmentation of the revolutionary forces and to focus the struggle against the imperialists!

 

Dear Comrades!

Naturally, the class struggle in the individual countries retains priority.

It is the political basis of proletarian internationalism, since the power of the capitalists and of imperialism continues to be organized at the national-state level.

All international integration and concentration notwithstanding, world imperialism does not have a common power apparatus.

That is its fundamental weakness, which it cannot overcome within the framework of the capitalist social order.

The united revolutionary forces must know how to take advantage of the inter-imperialist contradictions to weaken the imperialist world system and to strengthen their own forces in the process.

Nonetheless, it would be naive to demand that the working class and the broad masses of each country should come to grips with their own bourgeoisie independently of one another and without international union.

Isn't the strategy and tactics of the fight against international "terrorism" the joint platform of the ruling classes for rigorously, and as far as possible, jointly crushing any threat to their relations of power, no matter which country is concerned?

With the concept of a "world domestic policy" the imperialists justify their interference in the affairs of all countries throughout the world and their right to take armed action, if necessary, against revolutionary uprisings.

Only to insist on the independence of the revolutionary struggle in each country in such a strategic situation, without simultaneously seeking international union, would be a sure road to defeat.

Didn't Marx and Engels see the reason for the defeat of the "Paris Commune" in the fact that the international proletariat did not come to the aid of their class brothers in Paris with revolutionary actions in their own countries and instead allowed the bourgeoisie to form itself into the ultimately superior counterrevolution?

Didn't the spread of the international proletarian revolution after the 1917 October Revolution fail, didn't the counterrevolution manage to drown the various revolutionary uprisings and struggles in blood because the subjective prerequisites in the individual imperialist countries – particularly in Germany – had not matured, despite a revolutionary crisis from 1918 to 1923?

We cannot allow it to happen again that revolutionary forces, revolutionary uprisings and heroic liberation movements can be stifled because of national isolation and lack of international solidarity, and by an international counterrevolution!

That is what the creation of the international organization for the coordination of the practical activity of revolutionary parties and organizations is about:

the accelerated development of the subjective conditions for an international revolutionary liberation struggle to overcome imperialism!

 

Dear Comrades!

In August 2007, in a resolution 21 organizations decided to create an international organization for the practical cooperation of revolutionary parties and organizations.

Since then, in a systematic decentralized discussion process in the Americas, Asia, Africa and Europe a large number of organizations have become involved in the discussion of this.

More than 70 actively and constructively participated in this and see themselves as a part of the founding process, even if not all of them can be present.

Further organizations have taken part in the discussion, take a favorable view of it, but could not yet make up their minds to actively participate themselves in this process of the creation of the international organization.

ICOR should be open to cooperation with other progressive, democratic and revolutionary associations and must not make the mistake of one-sidedly seeing itself as competition for them.

Of course, we must continue to be vigilant towards forces which undermine the revolutionary road and oppose the unity of the revolutionary forces in the world when we set about today to create a higher, organized form of proletarian internationalism. But that is something different from skeptical mistrust amongst each other and petty bickering in minor issues, which unnecessarily divides us and weakens our revolutionary community.

Events of world-historical importance need time to mature:

  • That includes a process of the building of confidence between organizations that have not worked together to date.

  • That includes a process of the practical cooperation of very different organizations which struggle in their particular countries under very different conditions.

  • That includes not least of all a patient ideological-political exchange, unanimous critical and self-critical discussion and unification.

All the same, we have arrived at a point where we can proceed to found this international organization in order to speed and improve the process of its construction and advance it also in a new quality.

A lot of doubts had to be dispelled to arrive at today's founding process.

One of the most important was that various organizations do not yet see themselves in a position at the current time to participate in international activities.

Despite all the material, ideological or financial limitations of the individual organizations, this serious objection is nevertheless one-sided, because it does not take into account that precisely the international union brings extraordinary benefits to many organizations.

They can now fall back on the many and varied experiences of other organizations, avail themselves of direct material aid, and in this way also overcome their own weakness faster.

Other reservations concerned the question how such a union can be successfully brought about as long as the unification of views on all essential ideological-political issues has not been brought about yet.

Much as gradual ideological-political unification is necessary, a joint practice, a joint struggle in a few essential questions does not depend on being in agreement in all essential questions.

Don't we all have many and varied experiences in united action and united front politics in our revolutionary practice?

Do we always ask the different participants in antifascist demonstrations and activities about their different world outlooks and political ideas before working together with them in practice?

No strike could be organized in a factory if it were not possible to put aside ideological and political differences of opinion and fight together to enforce economic and political demands.

Conversely, experience shows that joint revolutionary practice helps to overcome ideological-political differences.

Unity and struggle of opposites is a dialectical principle which every revolutionary must master if he does not want to languish in self-isolation.

The organizations involved in the ICOR process are in agreement on important basic positions, despite all their differences of opinion in matters of world outlook or in political analysis and programmatic issues.

There is agreement that this imperialist world system is the root of the unsolved problems of humanity;

that only the overcoming of the imperialist world system can solve the problems of humanity.

It is the common understanding that that must be done by revolutionary means;

the old powers must be overthrown and their structures replaced by structures of the dictatorship of the proletariat and people's power.

In our documents we must define this fundamental unity without losing sight of the fact that there is, of course, also a certain percentage of as yet unsolved problems, of ideological-political differences that we have to put on the back burner today and can only clear up step by step in the further process of the construction of ICOR.

We have to do here as well with completely different organizations:

With mature revolutionary parties with decades of experience, mass influence and experience in revolutionary class struggle.

With parties which have experience in the illegal work of revolutionaries.

With large parties, with small parties.

With parties from former socialist countries which have gained experience with the degeneration of the formerly socialist countries under the condition of the restoration of capitalism; which have experienced the futility of revisionism.

With parties newly created based on the recognition that the revolutionary class struggle cannot be victorious without a revolutionary avant-garde.

Not least of all, the revolutionary parties and organizations are different due to ideological-political differences of opinion that may be specifically rooted in world outlook, history or social economics.

It is the mutual respect for the ideological-political differences of opinion, the different conditions, qualifications, experience, but also quality of work, a respect which we must muster if we want to come together on an equal basis, if we want to become a joint international force.

Working together respectfully on a basis of equality – without a strong revolutionary center such as the socialist Soviet Union once was, this is the only chance of achieving a revolutionary union in which it can be possible to become a force superior to imperialism.

It goes without saying that this will not come about through the founding act alone.

It can only give a signal to other revolutionary organizations to support this important common interest and make the idea of internationally organized cooperation become reality.

The process of cooperation in a few essential questions, advancing to cooperation in all essential matters, is a stony, protracted path, requires a great mutual trust and must not be underestimated.

It will moreover be attacked by the class enemy, who of course controls the international communication channels and transportation routes too, and solely through this fact can exert immense influence on our cooperation.

Visa applications must be submitted for every meeting, for every email it is necessary to use the channels of the internet, electronic mail services or telephone, which are controlled by the ruling classes.

The so-called international fight against "terrorism" serves mainly to impede revolutionary activity.

Not to be underestimated too are the limited financial and organizational means which prevent many organizations particularly from Africa, Latin America or Asia from taking part in such meetings.

Despite all this we have managed to prepare this founding assembly today and actually to come together in this group.

The main part of ICOR construction still lies ahead of us, however.

We must unite the most diverse revolutionary parties and organizations mainly at the continental and regional levels and organize actual practical cooperation in party building and class struggle.

This will be the chief task of the continental and regional coordinating committees, requiring qualified comrades, but also the willingness of all participants to fill this cooperation with life in a spirit of solidarity.

Surely we will not have only successes, but will also suffer defeats, and perhaps also will have to accept setbacks and disappointments.

That's in the nature of the thing, has to do with the given relative strength.

With our revolutionary enthusiasm, our fundamental convictions and our intrepid perseverance we must gradually come to grips with the problems of cooperation and support each other in doing so.

We must develop a new feeling of togetherness.

This is a new stage of proletarian internationalism in which one not only feels responsible for oneself, for class struggle and party building in one's own country, but in the same way also for class struggle and party building in Africa, in the Americas, in Asia, in Europe, in Australia, in countries where we've never been and perhaps know very little about.

All this calls for a process of self-transformation of all those involved in which we must break with old habits without lapsing into lack of principles and opportunism or sectarianism.

We should jointly discuss this process too, evaluate it and critically and self-critically draw conclusions again and again.

This must be done practicing a proletarian culture of debate.

Of course, given the generally still relatively poorly developed parties and organizations today we can not unfold international work to an excessive degree without overtaxing our own forces.

For this reason we must master the principle of the concentration of forces and expand our projects in a gradual and systematic process.

Even at this Founding Conference we must of necessity limit ourselves to discussing and passing the founding documents, to the founding act, and also to the deployment of the necessary cadres for the international structures.

There is no point in putting out a great many resolutions which we cannot yet fill with substance under the present conditions.

The separation of theory and practice is one of the big vices of petty-bourgeois politicians, who like to give out lots of paper and resolutions, but are unable to even begin putting them into practice.

Right from the start we should not let this bad habit take hold and really do the things that we undertake to do!

We should be guided by this principle from the start.

The greatest persuasive power always comes from the unity of theory and practice.

The concentration of forces will help us to set ourselves realistic tasks which we then want to carry out with all determination, discipline and reliability.

The prospects of ICOR are good and its potential is inexhaustible.

The point is to fill these prospects with substance.

This common concern should inform this Founding Conference.

Forward with ICOR!

Down with the imperialist world system!

Forward to socialism!

The Founding Conference is hereby opened.

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