Corbynism: Leftists Illusions about Labour

Corbynism: Leftists Illusions about Labour

Some of those who support Corbyn’s Labour do so with the idea that “it’s the least worst option” but many more actually believe that Labour can reform capitalism in favour of those who create the wealth that is enjoyed by a minority. This article is mainly directed at their distortions.

The Impact of Corbyn

The capitalist media expressed astonishment at the rise of a left-leaning Labour Party which appeals more to the young than anything since Blairism when it first appeared. In reality, the Corbynite phenomenon is not hard to understand. After decades where wages as a share of national income have continuously fallen and after almost a decade of austerity in which the rich have got richer, it is not surprising that many workers voted for a party which promised to “tax the rich”. The young in particular, who face a miserable future, rushed to support Corbyn, both within the Labour Party and among the electorate in general (where 1.7 million under 25s registered for the first time). Some of those who support Corbyn’s Labour do so with the idea that “it’s the least worst option” but many more actually believe that Labour can reform capitalism in favour of those who create the wealth that is enjoyed by a minority. However behind all these are those who claim to be “socialists” and “revolutionaries” but who in their cynical manoeuvres belie both terms. This article is mainly directed at their distortions.

In the last few months the CWO has intervened in this debate, distributing material explaining the case for revolutionary abstention and urging, with those who were ready to discuss the fact, that Corbynism is a dead-end and part of the ruling class order. We have carried articles on our web site and in our publications1 and intervened on social media. We also distributed copies of our broadsheet “Aurora” on picket lines and University campuses as well as in our customary venues.

Some of the less politicised people we met argued in line with the standard bourgeois argument about democratic rights and duties. Others echoed the desperate hope that somehow electing a Labour Government would provide some relief from the cuts, crap prospects in work, cuts in benefits and crumbling welfare services. For many of those who we met the latter was a “straw they were clutching” in response to a lifetime of attacks seeing our class unable to sustain any adequate resistance. We did not agree and put counter-arguments but we're able to understand the desperation as the crisis appears to grind forward remorselessly and all the scattered “direct action” resistance to it has no focal point around which to rally.

Counterfeit Communists

On the other hand, there was an inexcusable flood of phoney arguments from the leftists and even a few anarcho-Corbynists who we encountered. On more than one occasion these supporters of the “democratic illusion" (some more recent converts than others) defended themselves by explaining that voting only took 10 or 15 minutes. On that basis, voting was at worst only a minor aberration on a par with dropping a chocolate wrapper or breaking wind in a crowded lift. Of course such a facile defence dodged around the issues that centres on the leftists ongoing nurturing of false and corrosive ideas over many months or even years rather than a few minutes of delinquent behaviour.

At the core of all the arguments of the “organised” Corbynists was the desire to support key falsehoods. These regularly included nonsense about the Labour Party being a “Workers Party”, nationalisation or state intervention being a step towards socialism and the ability of well-meaning MPs to be the vital agents of change. Overall, the whole panoply of justification for a reformist view of the world was expounded in the finest traditions of Second Internationalism2.

As the ruling class’s crisis has deepened the lack of any readily available economic solution has, at least since 2015, become dramatically evident in the political “superstructure”. Obvious examples of the bourgeois political machine not producing intended results include the near clean sweep by the Scottish Nationalists in the 2015 General Election, the 2016 referendum vote for Brexit which was not the preferred choice for the majority of the ruling class and the 2017 General Election which failed to deliver a “strong or stable” government of the right or left3

Of course, the left of the political establishment was not immune from the series of unintended consequences. The changes to the internal voting practices in the Labour Party opened the way for Jeremy Corbyn to become the leader despite opposition from the majority of Labour M.Ps.

That last unforeseen quirk in the politics of the parties which present as options for being safe governments for capitalism resulted in further ripples. In Britain, for many decades, the various splinters that emerged from Stalinism and Trotskyism4 had seen their influence gradually decline. In Corbyn’s unexpected rise they saw their chance.

The re-emergence of Left Labourism as a significant sector in British politics breathed life into the spectrum of counterfeit Communists all vying to implement the politics of the past like the United Front and “transitional method”. Those approaches were spawned in the degenerating Communist International after the defeat of the revolutionary wave in the early 1920s. By the 3rd Comintern Congress in 1921 the revolutionary essence was increasingly being replaced by adaptations to the capitalist order. Those are the politics which symbiotically unite the epigones of the revolutionary wave with the re-emergent left Labourism and its layers of new, often younger, activists.

The spreading of confusion by the Left

Unlike the Jehovah’s Witnesses who have been busy predicting imminent Armageddon for their whole history, the leftists see in Corbynism the living fulfilment of decades of leftist prophecies. Starting from Lenin’s confused and confusing description of the Labour Party as a “bourgeois workers party”, many generations of leftists have aimed for a left-leaning Labour Party as the key to a “British Road to Socialism” 5 (BRS).

Despite Labour’s defeat, the outcome of the General Election in June has given the Corbynite movement an extended lease of life. The beloved leader has to deliver nothing better than well-meaning words while all the ills of the system can be left at the door of the Tory Party or the Prime Minister. Hyping up a demand for another run of the General Election pantomime in the next 12 months 6 , Momentum and the other camp-followers will bang the electoral drum to their heart’s content. Their case will also thrive in a battle against “the enemy within” as the majority of Labour MPs remain open to the charge of not being true followers of “the beloved leader”.

In the previous section we referred to the British Road to Socialism, the name of the pre-1991 Communist Party of Great Britain’s Programme. The position of the 2017 successors in the CPB and their “Morning Star” is encapsulated on their web-site. At the end of June their site still displayed their election propaganda, summed up by a a poster-like front page entitled “Unity!”. Half of the page is taken up with a picture of Corbyn and the words, “Labour to Win”. Towards the bottom CPB call their supporters to “Vote Labour everywhere for a left-led government.”

Before dealing with more fundamental arguments, we can comment on the grotesque illusions about a left-led government. Even if the most far-fetched leftist fantasies had been realised and 326 Labour MPs had been elected then the CPB propagandists knew full well that this would have been a Parliamentary Labour Party indistinguishable from the previous version. The political backbone amongst the riders on the gravy train would actually have been the same factions who had tried to remove Corbyn and forced him to face re-election by party members in 2015.

An outcome requiring a lesser leap of faith, but still more than the Labour Party could actually deliver, would have been a minority Labour Government supported by the Liberal Democrats and/or the Scottish and Welsh Nationalists. Such a prospect would have the leftists salivating as every disappointment would then have been blamed on the other parties restricting Corbyn’s ability to perform miracles.

Even if a “left-led Government” had been a feasible electoral outcome it is our duty, as revolutionary Marxists, to explain why we would not campaign for such a development.

At this point we have to reassert the basics that the cheerleaders for Corbyn have long since stopped presenting. The Stalinists, Trotskyists and even certain self-styled Anarchists abandoned the need to spread such basic analysis, as they tried to encourage those who would listen that voting Labour is the path to a better future. Before the end of June a gathering called by the “Psychedelic Bolsheviks” in Sheffield heard its young supporters proclaim the need for a further push for more “young people and workers” to be drawn into the next Parliamentary exercise.

That endemic Leftist opportunism illustrates precisely why the organisations that operate as part of the left wing of capitalism have long been lost as potential parts of the proletarian revolutionary movement. If capitalism is to be overthrown – the only road to a sustainable human future – then the essential first step is the proletariat taking control of society via its own organisation and activity. That model will be based on mass involvement via assemblies and organisations such as Workers Councils (“Soviets” in Russian).

The politics of left reformism/Corbynism are separated from that perspective by at least two vast gulfs. Firstly assemblies and structures based on open participation with all representatives being accountable and recallable is totally different from bourgeois electoral structures. In the latter atomised individuals vote in their secret ballots for institutions all of which are designed to help the bosses’ system of power and control to keep running.

Secondly, the critical process by which the working class achieves our potential as “the gravediggers of capitalism” depends on the maturation of our class consciousness from “a class in itself” to “a class for itself”. That process crucially depends on the material reality of class struggle and the uneven manner by which sections of the class reflect on the process, absorb lessons and develop analysis 7 It is crystal clear that the leftists who encourage false beliefs in the nature of the bourgeois state and the usefulness of reformist strategies serve to block and divert the necessary steps towards clarity.

In the next section we will look at how these rogues advocate electoral reformism even where their inner circles still have a grasp of certain fundamentals. With a profound contempt for those they can persuade, such charlatans play with “transitional” politics where the few are entitled to understand but their followers are encouraged to remain ignorant and be loyal voters – the identical role allocated by the bourgeoisie to the whole of the working class.

The transitional method – Trotskyist doublethink

“Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.” When Orwell wrote “1984” there is a suggestion that he was apparently influenced by the political positions adopted by Max Shachtman and what was to develop into a strand of critical Trotskyism that become known as “the third camp”. It is ironic that one of the most blatant exercises in “Corbynism” doublethink has been carried out by a Trotskyist trend that also has sympathies for the third camp8.

On the one hand, the initiates and inner circle may still maintain a Marxist analysis of the Labour Party. For example it is still possible to find the following on the “Workers Liberty” web site.

THE LABOUR PARTY IS A BOURGEOIS PARTY

The Leninist position is that the Labour Party, judged in its role and function, and despite its origins and special connection with the trade unions, is a capitalist, a bourgeois workers' party. Judged politically it is not a workers' party with deformations, inadequacies (its 'inadequacies' amount to a qualitative difference), but a bourgeois party with the special function of containing the workers - actually it is a special section of the bourgeois state political organisation. The Labour Party is the main instrument of capitalist control of the workers; the organisation formed out of an upsurge of the workers, but an upsurge in which the workers were defeated ideologically and thus in every other field, is now the means of integrating the drives and aspirations of the workers with the capitalist state machine. It is not a passive reflection but an active canaliser of the class - against itself, against the proletariat's own interest. (From “What we are and what we must become” – still described as a “founding document” of the ancestral organisation of the AWL).

The description above was written in 1966. Perhaps the AWL leading lights believe that during the last 50 years the Labour Party ceased to be “the means of integrating the drives and aspirations of the workers with the capitalist state machine”. If so, then they could choose to explain a) the process and b) what is the class nature of the Labour Party. However, that’s their business not ours.

What is absolutely clear is that the AWL has been very active in the Corbynite movement and in the factional struggles within Momentum. Indeed there were weeks and months when at least one of their activists regularly appeared on national TV. Never did any of them take the opportunity to explain the analysis written in the epistles of the founding parents. Why not? Simply because they were only focussed on attracting new layers who would help build, join and vote for the Labour Party.

The doublethink is as clear as it is sickening. While the “cognoscenti” may understand the world, they deliberately and consciously avoid explaining the nature of reformism and parliamentarianism to their followers. Only the organisation, or perhaps its core, are allowed to understand while the Corbyn cult followers are treated as gullible vote fodder left in a state of abject confusion and false hopes – a situation which will inevitably lead to disillusion and the belief that people who call themselves Marxists deal in nothing but lies and illusion.

Lest all the other 57 varieties feel left out, the AWL is of course only one of many playing the same game. Peter Taaffe, long standing guru of the Socialist Party of England and Wales (once know by the name of its journal as “The Militant Tendency”) was also granted his 15 minutes of fame to argue that the Labour Party should review its decision from the early 1920s and allow his party to affiliate. The representative of the Workers Revolutionary Party, Frank Sweeney, appeared on BBC’s Daily Politics to explain that the problem was that Corbyn would not be able to implement his (Corbyn’s) programme. The fact that there was a large grain of truth in that was clearly by accident rather than design in that Mr Sweeney’s recommended solution was to vote for the WRP in the 5 constituencies where they had candidates.

For others, half-forgotten folk memories of when their political grandparents played in the Labour Party were awoken. The plethora of factions within and around Momentum is evidence of this common method of swimming with the stream of bourgeois ideology and maximising the practice of opportunism.

Parliament is not the state

There is another seriously harmful dimension to the leftists’ encouragement of participation in elections, whether in favour of Labour or their own groups or coalitions.

The pretence that the election of more well-intentioned politicians could actually replace the capitalist system is part of the mystification circulated by, and on behalf, of the ruling class. They are fully aware that elected representation up to and including the “Executive” (Prime Minister and her/his Cabinet) is only the window-dressing. The state in modern society actually exists to maintain the domination of the ruling class.

Beyond, the layers of elected representatives lies the real power vested in entities such as the civil service, the armed forces, the police and the secret and semi-secret state and not least the controllers of the majority of the national capital.. These are replicated beyond the national boundaries in the kaleidoscope of transnational institutions including the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organisation, military alliances such as NATO and, of course, the European Union and other regional trade organisations such as NAFTA.

That whole range of state institutions would still exist and exercise overwhelming power even if the UK population were allowed to elect 650 Corbyn clones.

The leftist organisations, in their inner circles, very probably, understand that full well. Similarly they understand that the state functions exist to maintain the control over every aspect of our lives that flows from the means of production being owned by firms, trusts, companies and conglomerates and in some cases by states themselves.

The pretence that electing MPs can counter those interests is a cruel deception. In most cases it only serves to help strengthen the grip of bourgeois ideology. In other cases such as Chile in the 1970s it meant death, imprisonment and torture for those working class people who had been persuaded that there was a “Parliamentary Road to Socialism”.

Leftist illusions or the difficult path to the overthrow of capitalism

It does not surprise us that layers of “radical” young people including some workers have been dragged into the Left Labourist swamp. The fact that the capitalist system has offered the vast majority nothing substantially positive for decade after decade is the background to that desperation. During that time the working-class has not displayed a fraction of our potential to struggle to defend ourselves and then to overthrow this rotten system. Consequently, Corbynism/Momentum has appeared, offering bogus promises based on the leftist recipe book for maintaining capitalism in an imaginary “fairer” style. Without a visible alternative based on working-class self-organisation and struggle, Corbynite Labour has been able to strike a chord. That explanation is clear and as Marxists we fully understand secular belief in salvation. This pie in the sky hope is just another expression of “the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world” (Marx, from the introduction to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right).

We recognise that revolutionaries have a duty to engage with those fooled by the false promises of reformism, of either the left or right varieties. However we will not condone, let alone join with, those corruptors of youth who encourage belief in illusions and build false expectations that will end in disillusion and confusion. Being “where the class is at” for the leftists involves sowing and encouraging illusions and encouraging falsehoods and confusions that cannot advance awareness of the need and possibility of the working-class taking power. That revolutionary reconstitution of society is the only viable path to put an end to a system that is very evidently breeding war, misery, famine and ecological destruction across the entire planet.

Internationally Corbynism has other parallels which clearly demonstrate where support for a parliamentary left party gets you. In Greece the financial implosion brought a supposedly very left new party (Syriza) to power in opposition to austerity imposed by the IMF and EU. The result is that Syriza has “managed” the introduction of the very policies they were elected to oppose. This has been, and remains, the function of the capitalist and reformist left everywhere.

The logic of the leftists decayed political method in Britain is seen where they line up against each other in favour of a capitalist UK in or out of a capitalist European Union or in favour of Scottish Independence or the existing state structure in Great Britain. Their politics of “lesser evilism” do not end there – while wars and massacres spread across the world the left chooses which side to cheer on. The same applies when we look at the historic atrocities in the Balkans such as the Kosovan separation from Serbia, or the current sufferings caused by the struggle between Ukraine against Russia and its supporters, or even the Kurdish nationalist YPG military campaign now openly part of a US-backed coalition. Wherever decaying capitalism generates conflict and misery the leftists cannot resist choosing sides while the working class suffer.

The cause of the working class only suffers when it's false friends helps lock their followers into capitalist structures and ideology such as the Labour Party and the reformist falsehoods that are peddled. Of course, it is easy for those dressed in pseudo-Marxist shreds to foster illusions in reformism or, as is their current practice, to join the Labour Party and increase the confusion of those who are finding conditions unbearable.

Genuine Communists will not be part of those exercises in deceit. Corbyn is not a new alternative but just a return to the same old programme of the past. For the present, we will continue to explain that there is no quick fix to capitalist exploitation and austerity. On the contrary, the road to a better future lies through the working class rediscovering its confidence and combativity. This can only be achieved when workers on the ground actively shape and expand their own resistance to the thousand and one attacks which amount to a historical reversal and decline in living standards as the crisis of capitalism grinds on, whichever party is in Westminster. This is qualitatively different from the headless chicken activism for activism’s sake or the short-term perspective of “getting the Tories out”. There is a way for would-be revolutionary militants to help build up workers’ resistance to capitalism. It lies, not in promoting a particular character or faction inside any of the established parties, but in helping to promote the long term movement of resistance to capitalism and ultimately a political organisation of the world working class. The CWO and our comrades in ICT are organised to maintain and spread that theory and practice. We invite all those who share our understanding to discuss with us in the struggle towards a truly human, classless and stateless future.

KT

June 23 2017

  • 1. See leftcom.org, leftcom.org, leftcom.org, leftcom.org, leftcom.org, leftcom.org, leftcom.org, leftcom.org.
  • 2. The Second International drew together erstwhile Socialist Parties from its foundation in 1889 until its political collapse in 1914 when the deep-seated abandonment of a revolutionary Marxist understanding led to its large majority supporting their national bourgeoisie in the First World War. Parties such as the Labour Party, SPD in Germany and PS in France continue to stand in that counter-revolutionary tradition.
  • 3. In fact a most obvious short-term effect of the loss of a few seats by the Tories is that the Government may have to work out how to transfer some millions of pounds to Northern Ireland “infrastructure projects” i.e. In the direction of the Democratic Unionists and other politicians and their “business associates”. Since this article was drafted it became clear that the number involved would be at least a million pounds.
  • 4. Examples of Stalinist or Trotskyist organisations in Britain that have not hitched up to the Corbynite bandwagon are few and far between. Two that have “bucked the trend” are the Revolutionary Communist Group and the Socialist Equality Party. The former prefer to devote their cheerleading to the state capitalist regimes in Cuba and Venezuela. The latter has in 2017 given up its previous habit of legitimising electoral illusions by standing its own candidates as part of its own interpretation of the Trotskyist Transitional Programme.
  • 5. The name of the programme adopted in 1952 – issued the previous year - by the Communist Party of Great Britain, the supporters of the state capitalist Soviet Union. It has hardly changed since despite many rewrites.
  • 6. The Byzantine nature of the democratic smokescreen means that the Tories would gain party political advantage – albeit slightly less since the 2017 results - by not calling the next General Election until the constituency boundaries have been redrawn to their advantage. This is scheduled to take place in 2019.
  • 7. For exploration of this see our publication “Class Consciousness and Revolutionary Organiasation”
  • 8. See “The Lost Marxism of Critical Trotskyism” in Internationalist Communist 17. Still available £4, including postage, from our addresses.

Comments

Spikymike
Aug 12 2017 16:50

Good article. The original footnote No3 added that ''...this would be at least a billion pounds.'' !

Cleishbotham
Aug 16 2017 15:37

Thanks Mike. You are right and we don't know how it got changed.

bootsy
Aug 17 2017 01:37

I've read quite a few articles like this which are aimed at leftist supporters of Corbyn and other nominally left-wing politicians. However maybe it would be more productive to focus on communicating our anti-State Communist perspective to the less overtly politicised Corbyn supporters, who only support him out of shear desperation for any feasible alternative to the present status-quo. In my experience social activists who are into supporting democratic politics are usually fairly dogmatic and well entrenched in their views and it can be fairly difficult to change their minds, on the other hand many of the young Corbyn supporters may be less invested in their beliefs and the fact that they're so enthused by Corbyn demonstrates that, at the very least, they are open to socialist and anti-capitalist ideas. I'm talking of working class youth obviously, he can keep the university students.

Mike Harman
Aug 17 2017 12:53
bootsy wrote:
I've read quite a few articles like this which are aimed at leftist supporters of Corbyn and other nominally left-wing politicians. However maybe it would be more productive to focus on communicating our anti-State Communist perspective to the less overtly politicised Corbyn supporters, who only support him out of shear desperation for any feasible alternative to the present status-quo.

Yes I'm not sure this is the most productive approach either.

There's a spectrum of Corbyn supporters, and I'm not sure which set this speaks to:

- some people have latched on to Corbyn because they think it's a potential platform for their own political or media careers, exposing that opportunism/careerism is one thing but people won't abandon that unless the project itself dies.

- some people think Labour under Corbyn represents a genuine least-worst alternative that could actually win an election. I think it's actually fine to think this, I just don't think it should be the basis of anyone's activity/efforts.

The latter group includes both some informed anarchists/communists, but also what I'd call 'default social democrats' - in that they've not been massively exposed to anarchist/communist ideas, but have 'left' principles that Corbyn matches closer than what else is on offer politically.

The trouble is that those of us who have little or no time for Corbyn and Corbynism tend to get frustrated with the careerists (in the same way they in turn get distracted with centrist 'melts and slugs') and the distracted communists and anarchists - because in the first case they're building profiles based on getting people's hopes up for something that historically has extremely limited scope, and in the latter we know they should know better but they're letting people off easy.

I think any criticism of Corbyn has to be backed by historical examples of where social democracy has been anti-worker (colonialism abroad, strike-breaking and anti-immigrant legislation at home), or posit some concrete alternatives, or at least specific anti-working class policies he supports (stricter immigration controls, more police) otherwise for the latter group that's most weakly attached to Corbyn in the first place, it makes it too easy for the entrenched supporters to build an ultra-left strawman.

Gooseberry
Aug 29 2017 05:08

Most of your analysis seems pretty great. However while reading I can't help but shake my head at the total inadequacy of an alternative way forward. It's just more vague posturing of "worker struggle to overthrow capitalism!" "Workers soviets" blah blah blah. What does any of that mean? Could u even gather 100 "workers" to have some direct participation in creating an alternative future? What "work" are we even talking about? In the u.s. My iww friends are dogmatic about the working class and taking over "the means of production". What the fuck does that even mean for post industrial societies? That we'll have restaurant and retail workers band together in "the work place" and overthrow capitalism by usurpation of "the means of production"?????? How does this sound any more sane than electoralism? How is this any more sane than a person who thinks 10 minutes of their time might be worth voting because it might actually ever so slightly make their conditions more tolerable? I understand that leftist politicians will ultimately maintain the status quo. But if you're an immigrant that difference in left/right status quo might mean the difference between deportation. My girlfriend is an immigrant I would actually feel better with sanders rather than trump in power. What the fuck is wrong with that? How are u going to change ANYTHING!!!!! I fail to see how "workers soviets" are even a possibility at present. Maybe it's different in Britain than the u.s.

So I'll try to offer a quick idea of a possibility I see in moving forward so I'm not just being negative.

I think we need to get property and get it collectively. This could be done through squatting or pooling money with friends to buy it. Set up a collective property buying fund or just ha e 5-10 people put an equal amount of money in on a house or piece of land. Turn that property into communal housing, community resource, or a co-operative business that generates more money to get more property and resources. Like make an ice cream collective (Emma Goldman!) get hella money cuz everybody loves ice cream and then open up an info shop next door or health facility or wtvr. Get land make food collective that supplies ice cream collective and other affiliates. Jesus wtvr something like this. We need tangible resources that can expand and grow. Key to this method would be to make sure no single person can put more resources forward allowing them greater power. Also these spaces could all be designated international sanctuaries for all peoples or anti citizenship or however u want to designate it so it's global in perspective. This model could try to create global affiliates that all talk and learn from each other and encourage travel between each other for sharing and learning. They could all be designated nuclear free zones.

The means of production barely even exist in the first world anymore. We need to have some sort of recognition of how the third world is largely propping up the lifestyle of the "working class" in the first world. We need to bring back the means of production into our lives through the acquisition of resources. Not at work but by creating our own work spaces. We should get any rich people involved that are willing and stop looking at shit in this outdated ass working class binary that barely makes sense anymore. I grew up in a redneck working class background and I can tell u most people I know who are obsessed with the "working class" are college educated and couldn't dig a ditch or haul hay for half a damn day! And I can tell u that a large portion of the working class fucking sucks! I want to build a new world with friends who are interested and go from there. Hopefully through collectivized property models more of the population can be reached. Trying to get the first project started in the next year.

zugzwang
Aug 29 2017 08:33
Gooseberry wrote:
So I'll try to offer a quick idea of a possibility I see in moving forward so I'm not just being negative.

I think we need to get property and get it collectively. This could be done through squatting or pooling money with friends to buy it. Set up a collective property buying fund or just ha e 5-10 people put an equal amount of money in on a house or piece of land. Turn that property into communal housing, community resource, or a co-operative business that generates more money to get more property and resources. Like make an ice cream collective (Emma Goldman!) get hella money cuz everybody loves ice cream and then open up an info shop next door or health facility or wtvr. Get land make food collective that supplies ice cream collective and other affiliates. Jesus wtvr something like this. We need tangible resources that can expand and grow. Key to this method would be to make sure no single person can put more resources forward allowing them greater power. Also these spaces could all be designated international sanctuaries for all peoples or anti citizenship or however u want to designate it so it's global in perspective. This model could try to create global affiliates that all talk and learn from each other and encourage travel between each other for sharing and learning. They could all be designated nuclear free zones.

Unless there's someone who's going to finance all this, you'd still need a way to sustain your housing coop or commune, even if it's self-sufficient to a large extent, which most likely means participating in the job market. Creating a housing coop or commune is not going to help win others to our side or help transcend capitalism, and if I'm not mistaken stuff like this, association of intentional communities, already exist. Unless it's something niche like book publishing, I don't think setting up worker cooperatives would generate much profit either. They would still be subjected to the same need to expand, cut corners, etc. that any capitalist enterprise faces to not go out of business. I'm not opposed to coop living (I think it's actually a way to ease the burdens of living under capitalism) or worker coops but I don't think these alone, ignoring other workers' struggles, are correct strategies for handling capitalism.

Gooseberry
Aug 29 2017 11:45

I don't think other worker struggles should be ignored. Unions and workers organizing should be supported where it's happening. But how do u see any workers struggle today realistically defeating capitalism? How are demands at the work place not subjected to "the need to expand cut corners etc"? How are demands for higher wages and better working conditions going to overthrow capitalism? Especially in the first world? Where the job market is overwhelmingly service industry and retail based.

Creating an info shop or a health clinic or a free school with money funded from an ice cream collective will help win people over to better ideas. If 10 people put $5,000 (or whatever they could) together and created an ice cream collective on the first floor and then lived on one or two floors above it would likely generate enough money to purchase another property. That could be an outreach property or educational source or food producing source. If the city u live in is struggling then a lot of this can be squatted.

In the u.s. Every major city I've been to is experiencing massive gentrification. In New York the communities that have been able to resist this the best are Chinatown and the Hasidic community. These two communities own most of the property in their neighborhoods. I've never been but it sounds like there are some anarchist neighborhoods in Athens that might function this way. I think that it's imperative that we control physical space and try to expand it to whole neighborhoods. I don't see unionizing accomplishing this in any sort of fashion. At least here in the u.s. It seems far easier for workers to create their own work space than to take over Starbucks or McDonald's.

zugzwang
Aug 30 2017 23:23
Gooseberry wrote:
I don't think other worker struggles should be ignored. Unions and workers organizing should be supported where it's happening. But how do u see any workers struggle today realistically defeating capitalism? How are demands at the work place not subjected to "the need to expand cut corners etc"? How are demands for higher wages and better working conditions going to overthrow capitalism? Especially in the first world? Where the job market is overwhelmingly service industry and retail based.

Creating an info shop or a health clinic or a free school with money funded from an ice cream collective will help win people over to better ideas. If 10 people put $5,000 (or whatever they could) together and created an ice cream collective on the first floor and then lived on one or two floors above it would likely generate enough money to purchase another property. That could be an outreach property or educational source or food producing source. If the city u live in is struggling then a lot of this can be squatted.

In the u.s. Every major city I've been to is experiencing massive gentrification. In New York the communities that have been able to resist this the best are Chinatown and the Hasidic community. These two communities own most of the property in their neighborhoods. I've never been but it sounds like there are some anarchist neighborhoods in Athens that might function this way. I think that it's imperative that we control physical space and try to expand it to whole neighborhoods. I don't see unionizing accomplishing this in any sort of fashion. At least here in the u.s. It seems far easier for workers to create their own work space than to take over Starbucks or McDonald's.

I don't see how creating more infoshops would assist the libcom cause, which is not to say that infoshops, coops, etc. are a waste of time. I just think energies should be directed toward creating a mass movement against capital and the state rather than various ways of coping with capitalism. Worker coops generally aren't so successful business-wise and would be engaging in similar anti-social behaviors as any other capitalist business. Viewing democratic worker coops within a market system as some goal in itself has nothing in common with communism which seeks to replace the market and exchange with a needs-based system. Any libcom vision should include decentralized decision-making as well as a needs-based form of distribution.

Not all capitalist earnings go back into production or to expansion; the rest is pocketed by the capitalists (after paying taxes and other stuff; they try to avoid the former). I don't see a problem with fighting for concessions like wage increases and so on that wouldn't affect corporations in the slightest. Would mcdonald's really suffer if their executives were slightly less rich (with most ceo's making 200-300 times more than the average worker)? "Taking over the means of production" doesn't mean letting workers self-manage a mcdonald's, as if all things were to remain the same under socialism; I don't think mcdonald's, starbucks, or similar corporations have any place in a post-capitalist world. What to put in their place and how food distribution would be organized is for people to decide when and if the situation arises.

Gooseberry
Aug 29 2017 22:07

What does a mass movement against capital look like today? I'm not protesting the right of mcdonalds workers to make more money I think they should. But my point is the majority of jobs in the first world have almost nothing to do with the means of production. So I don't see how struggle in the work place is any direct threat to capitalism. Taking over McDonald's is a lot different than taking over textile and steel mills or the types of farms that existed 100 years ago.

How do u get communism to replace the market? 99% of people don't even know what communism or capitalism even mean. Like I said before all your analysis sounds really great. But I don't see any inkling of a good idea of how to replace capitalism with communism. So it's easy to campaign against electoral politics. And take a dogmatic stance on it. But I don't see the anarchist communist left coming up with any sort of alternative.

Also how is it "anti social behavior" to start an ice cream collective with your friends? Seems less anti social than working some random job for people u don't like. Also most anarchists and communists start really ugly and boring cafes that adhere to the fundamentalist worship of the colors black and red. Which aren't very appealing environments and they tend to have vanguard elitist vibes.

I just haven't seen anything that is bigger than taking some really elitist niche knowledge analysis of society. Like nothing. Maybe it's different in Europe.

Khawaga
Aug 29 2017 22:18
Quote:
Also how is it "anti social behavior" to start an ice cream collective with your friends?

You didn't interpret that correctly. When you get together to form a co-op to produce ice-cream, tables, bikes or whatever and you sell this on the market, you are effectively just as much of a capitalist enterprise as anything else that produces in order to sell. The problem then is that you are competing with businesses that are only producing ice cream in order to make money and thus will cut corners, pay low wages etc. in order to outcome their competition. Now while your co-op may initially secure everyone a nice paycheck, what happens is that as competition stiffens, the co-op members will then have to decide how they can reduce the price of their ice cream to stay competitive. After all, since you started this co-op to secure your means of survival (while not working for a boss), it means that if you don't rationalize production, you'll be out of a paycheck. In the end, the co-op members will have to engage in the same anti-social behaviours of a capitalist: reduce wages, buy cheaper raw materials, adulterate your raw materials, hire cheaper workers to work for you. In other words, in a co-op you are both worker and a boss at the same time, and the honeymoon period when you don't need to engage in anti-social behaviour is shorter or longer depending on market conditions. See the experience of Mondragon.

This co-op thing has been tried and tested for decades and decades already. It's never worked.

Quote:
But my point is the majority of jobs in the first world have almost nothing to do with the means of production. So I don't see how struggle in the work place is any direct threat to capitalism. Taking over McDonald's is a lot different than taking over textile and steel mills or the types of farms that existed 100 years ago.

Means of production = the shit you need to run a business. Whether this is a textile mill, a software developer, a McDonald's or an event management firm doesn't matter. There are still means of production and most of us don't own them.

You seem to have a very superficial understanding of capitalism and of the working class, I am afraid.

Gooseberry
Aug 29 2017 22:33

How is getting a wage increase different from electoral politics?

Chilli Sauce
Aug 29 2017 22:39

One builds a sense of power and confidence and solidarity and organization and demonstrates a class interest. The other is alienating, atomized, and seeks to mediate the interests of the class through the state. I'll let you decide which is which.

Snarkiness aside, I'd really suggest you re-read Khawaga's post. He's made a very clear, step-by-step argument and it would do you well to engage with it beyond a superficial level.

Gooseberry
Aug 29 2017 22:40

Cool i probably do have a superficial understanding of capitalism. So what? What are u going to do? How do u replace it? U haven't given a single proposition on how to move forward. As to working class yah prob short on understanding that as well. I come from a redneck farming background. Can probably outwork u. But all the anarchist glorification of the working class seems to constantly gloss over its vast shortcomings. And enerally in what feels like an elitist outside "analysis" and "complete understanding" of the "situation". Yo seriously give me some ideas. I love libcom I love anarchism. But I am just seeing a complete dirth of ideas coming from the radical left. We tend to have rest analysis and that's it. So let's get something more. If u have links or reading recomendations great. If u have your own basic ideas on how to move forward great! Let's get some ideas going. Cuz right now .3% of the population might be familiar with the anarchist point of view and it's history.

Fleur
Aug 29 2017 22:43

I am confused. Is anyone here arguing against fighting for improved working conditions ie wage increase? Because that's just silly.

Chilli Sauce
Aug 29 2017 22:50

Well, I'd start here in terms of theory: http://libcom.org/library/libcom-introductory-guide

In terms of practicalities, I'd suggest that most libcom posters don't seek to organize politically. You don't go in talking about capitalism, communism, class struggle, and the revolution. Rather you find common interest with your co-workers or your fellow tenants, claimants, or students. From there you build power and organization and, from those experiences, you can begin to open up space for deeper political conversations.

How you build that power and organization is an open question, but lots of organizations already exist that fit in with anarchist principals - you can find information about lots of them here on this site.

I'm sure folks would be glad to offer you some more concrete suggestions in terms of ideas and organizations. If you could be a bit more specific about what sorts of issues you think you could practically organize around in your local area.

You said you come from a rural background? Maybe check out Redneck Revolt.

Gooseberry
Aug 29 2017 22:50

No I'm arguing against more "analysis" against electoralism. Half the voting population already doesn't vote. And I'm arguing that although better working conditions in the first world is something we should fight for it doesn't take into account how we are already propped up by the third world. And there are no good ideas that I can see from the left on how to "replace capitalism with communism". Lots of great analysis. Dirth of constructive ideas. Mostly coming from college educated people having the best analysis of everything.

Gooseberry
Aug 29 2017 22:54

Thanks for the input. Yah I was specific about acquiring property. Collectively but apparently that won't work because you're still in the market based system so u gotta then turn around and exploit after the honeymoon phase. So just keep working for someone else and renting but do it while struggling with your comrades against landlords and bosses. That's what I got so far?

Redneck revoltnis pretty cool but I have zero interest in organizing around guns. I'm glad redneck revolt is around though.

Chilli Sauce
Aug 29 2017 22:56

Nevermind, jumped the gun on that one.

Chilli Sauce
Aug 29 2017 23:03
Gooseberry wrote:
Thanks for the input. Yah I was specific about acquiring property. Collectively but apparently that won't work because you're still in the market based system so u gotta then turn around and exploit after the honeymoon phase. So just keep working for someone else and renting but do it while struggling with your comrades against landlords and bosses. That's what I got so far?

Redneck revoltnis pretty cool but I have zero interest in organizing around guns. I'm glad redneck revolt is around though.

I don't think anyone is against co-operative living or even against co-ops as a means of subsistence, but we don't see them as a revolutionary strategy. They're too wrapped up in the logic of capital.

As for you this:

Quote:
So just keep working for someone else and renting but do it while struggling with your comrades against landlords and bosses.

Basically, yeah, but not just your comrades (I'm assuming you mean self-proclaimed lefties or whatever). It's to try and draw in as many people possible and build up a sense of class identity, power, and confidence. Most people work for a boss and most people rent (or at least the bank owns their house). This is what makes us working class and this is where we'll find our common interests and our power.

Also, as a note, Redneck Revolt do a lot more than just organize around guns.

I'm also not sure most people would agree with your third-worldism (see that post from Khawaga) but I'll let someone else tackle that one.

Gooseberry
Aug 30 2017 04:08

Looking for a like button on your comment so I can like it.

I just think we need to hash out more concrete ideas of what the struggle can turn into. Like the iww in Utah is obsessed with joe hill memorials and having meetings with less than ten people. I really don't see this developing into anything that will ever significantly challenge capitalism. I do think getting property collectively is a better idea than joining the iww in Utah. Maybe I know in some other places the labor movements are a bit stronger.

My other experience with unions in Utah revolve around the outdoor retailer expo. U get good pay for two weeks of work. At the retailer there is an obscene amount of environmental waste in the form of plastic and shipping materials. All in the name of enjoying the "outdoors". There is a flush of military manufactures hawking their war fabrics. The majority of the products are manufactured in the third world. I'm sure my analysis isn't that on point about first and third world "workerism" or whatever word works. But there is some dynamic there that I think is often ignored.

A significant portion of the u.s. Working class still has a capacity to buy and purchase an amount of wealth half the world can't even dream of. So somehow that's got to be connected. Maybe the iww would work better in the third world. Idk. I know i sound like a crazy wing nut troll on here. But I really can't go for the union thing in Utah as any relevant way to replace capitalism. Honestly the only thing here that would pose a real alternative is the Mormon church and I don't think that would be a better world.