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Interview with Alain Krivine

(February 1977)

From Intercontinental Press, Vol. 15 No. 7, 28 February 1977, p. 215.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The following interview with Alain Krivine, a member of the Political Bureau of the Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire (Revolutionary Communist League, French section of the Fourth International) appeared in the February 9 issue of the Belgian Trotskyist weekly La Gauche. The interview was conducted by Alain Tondeur. The translation is by Intercontinental Press.

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Question. Can you explain the organizational changes decided on by the congress?

Answer. The basic problem is that the political period following our first congress was very difficult. Combined with this, the fact that the former leadership was a bit out of touch with the new social composition of the organization gave rise to a long period of questioning among the membership as to what a revolutionary organization is, what the nature of internal democracy is, and so on. No one, apart from a tiny minority, raised doubts about Leninism and democratic centralism; but everyone, especially the leadership, understood that there is no real organizational model.

The Ligue is at a crossroads, not only politically but also organizationally. We are no longer a small far-left organization with a primarily student and petty-bourgeois composition. Without exaggerating, we can say that we are becoming a real workers’ party, although a small one, especially now that we have a daily paper. For the last year or two we have seen the beginning of a qualitative leap.

But our structure is out of date. As you know, in the history of the Trotskyist movement we have had the experience of leading organizations of several hundred members, usually with the right to form tendencies and a great degree of internal democracy. But now we are in a very different situation. We have thousands of members, including many workers, comrades who do not have time to read the internal bulletins, who do not speak the same language ... These new members have not joined because of our theoretical positions, but because of the Ligue’s concrete day-to-day activity in the unions, and so forth. Their concerns are different from those of our cadres in the past.

In a period when political life has been relatively sluggish in France, such a development of different layers in the Ligue has created enormous problems for the organization. Everything has come under scrutiny. The Ligue has gone through a kind of “cultural revolution,” hut in a very positive sense. The leadership has been harshly criticized for all of the dislocations that have occurred, with the membership feeling a strong need to reassert their control over the organization. The comrades feel that they are not really leading the organization, that they do not understand what they are doing in it, and that a kind of “bureaucracy” has grown up.

It is a real problem. We have not really come up with any solution. We understand pretty well what is going on, hut again, there is no precedent. These problems are completely new; striking a balance be tween centralized activity and democracy, assuring the flow of information, is very difficult.

This congress expressed very harsh criticism of the leadership. Not on political issues, because, as it turned out, there has been no major change in the relationship of forces between the different political tendencies as compared to the previous congress; but there are divisions on organizational questions, which are central.

Q. Can you go into the major decisions that the congress made in this area?

A. A national conference on organizational questions will be held before the end of the year. The problems were raised at this congress, hut we will he discussing them further throughout the year. Like wise, we have taken steps to more and more decentralize the leadership of our day-to-day work, while centralizing it politically. In other words, we are going to delegate more responsibilities to more people, and more authority, responsibilities and work to the commissions.

We have set up a great many specialized commissions, with greater powers, which will be led by members of the Central Committee, but whose collective leadership will not be on the CC. This is because we have realized it is impossible to centralize the leadership of the day-to-day activity of an organization which works in a multitude of areas, such as industry, the armed forces, the women’s movement, and so on.

There must be a sharing of responsibilities, and along with this a lot of attention has to be devoted to political education, because in a certain sense the organization’s political level has dropped.

Likewise, a great deal of attention has to be paid to the question of feminism, which has taken on great importance and in practice became the focal point of the discussions at the congress. The oppression of women certainly exists in the Ligue. And the women are using the same methods to fight male chauvinism in the Ligue that they use to fight the male chauvinism of the bourgeoisie. They are trying to establish a relationship of forces enabling them to extend their struggle throughout the Ligue. For example, they demanded the right to hold separate meetings. They did this, of course, not to carry out a split, hut to have a chance to discuss among themselves.

The question of the role and status of women in the organization is one of the basic problems. Steps have been taken on all these points, but I think that solving the problem will take some time, because – once again – the general understanding of the problem has not advanced very far. We need to try out new methods of organization, of education, of relaying information, as well as new structures for the membership.

Take, for instance, a worker militant. He has a weekly cell meeting, a union fraction meeting, and still another meeting if he has a leadership position in the union. It gets to be impossible. This is why so many workers prefer to work in the Cercles Taupe [sympathizers’ groups] rather than in the Ligue.

There is a certain tendency to super-activism, bound up with our student past. This pace was imposed de facto on the workers, but it is impossible, absolutely impossible, for them. Therefore, we must make radical changes in the organization, because if these steps are not taken ...

I am very optimistic, because of the present strength of the organization, and because I think that the political situation will change in the coming months. We are nearing the end of two difficult years.

Q. So the crisis is related to the political situation, not just to changes in the organization?

A. Of course. It has been a time when our activity has been limited to propaganda and to rooting ourselves in the unions, but when we have not been able to take political initiatives, because we haven’t had the forces ... Of course, we have been active around Spain, for example, just as before, hut it is more difficult. There were no political openings for large-scale initiatives and campaigns.

We are somewhat isolated, even on the far left. For the first time, we have been able to put together a united front of three organizations in the elections [1], which is very good. But aside from those three organizations, the far left in France has been on the decline since 1968. Many people joined the CP or other organizations. When the reformists are on the threshold of power,in the midst of a crisis like this, you feel the tremendous magnetic power of these parties. So then you react by becoming dogmatic, like certain organizations in France, or else you join the CP. Or, on the other hand, you devote yourself to educating your members politically, and you strengthen your press.

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1. See “Pact of Alliance” in French Elections, elsewhere in this issue. – IP

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