ICC public forum-London-12.5.07 Communism: not a nice idea, but a material necessity

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Apr 30 2007 11:26
ICC public forum-London-12.5.07 Communism: not a nice idea, but a material necessity

International Communist Current

Public forum
Communism: not a nice idea but a material necessity

2.00, Saturday 12th May
Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, Holborn, London
Nearest tube: Holborn

“Communism? Ah yes, like Russia used to be. The state controls the whole economy. Except for a small number of apparatchiks, who make all the decisions, everybody is paid the same low wages. People weren’t free to leave the country”.

No! That’s not the communism of Marx, who looked to the abolition of the wages system, the disappearance of the state and of national frontiers. To a society of freely associated producers!

“Oh that communism. A wonderful utopia. A nice idea, but it would never work……. Better to do what we can to make capitalism more humane”.

What doesn’t work is capitalism, which has long outlived itself and is dragging humanity into a nightmare of economic collapse, war and ecological destruction. Communism is a necessity for the survival and future flowering of the human species. Furthermore, it is no utopia. It expresses the fundamental historical interests of the working class.

Since 1990 and the collapse of the ‘Communist’ bloc - in reality a form of state capitalism - the International Communist Current has been publishing a series of articles in its theoretical journal, the International Review, around the theme ‘Communism is not a nice idea, but a material necessity’. The first volume of the series, published this month in book form, begins with ‘primitive’ communism and goes on to explore the conception of communism in the writings of Marx, Engels and other revolutionaries during the 19th century. The second volume of the series, already published in the International Review, deals with the period from the mass strikes of 1905 to the end of the first great revolutionary wave that followed the First World War. A third volume is already underway.

The meeting will consistent of a short presentation on the new book: why it is a fundamental duty of revolutionaries to reclaim the work of their ‘forgotten’ ancestors from the lies of the bourgeoisie and academia, and why it’s so important to bring the theoretical and practical lessons of the workers’ movement of the past to the knowledge of the new generation of revolutionaries. There will be plenty of time for discussion following the presentation.

All welcome

Communism: not a nice idea but a material necessity costs £7.50 (including P &P) and is available from the address below (Cheques / Postal Orders should be made payable to: International Review)

Contact:
Write (without mentioning the name) to:
BM Box 869, London, WC1N 3XX
www.internationalism.org / uk@internationalism.org

cantdocartwheels's picture
cantdocartwheels
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May 8 2007 16:17

but what if i think communism is a nice idea

si
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May 8 2007 18:28

yeah - saw this on the maydemo and couldn't help feeling the title had - rather unpleasant - blanquist overtones: "this is for your own good, comrades". Surely Communism is a nice idea //and// a material necessity, even if the latter is ontologically prior (as it clearly is)?

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May 8 2007 18:55

Isn't this being a bit hypercritical? I mean if I had a penny for everytime someone has said to me "well, nice idea but it would never work" I'd be ... well, a capitalist.

And let's not forget how Marx defined it in The German Ideology: "Communism is for us not a state of affairs which is to be established, an ideal to which reality [will] have to adjust itself. We call communism the real movement which abolishes the present state of things."

Mike Harman
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May 8 2007 19:03
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And let's not forget how Marx defined it in The German Ideology: "Communism is for us not a state of affairs which is to be established, an ideal to which reality [will] have to adjust itself. We call communism the real movement which abolishes the present state of things."

That doesn't mean it's undesirable though, it's just saying it's a potentiality which exists within the present rather than some distant utopia that will magically come into being.

si
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May 8 2007 19:05

a //very pleasant potentiality indeed//

si
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May 8 2007 19:10

ps perhaps not strictly //hyper//critical since it was a slogan in very large, old type at the top of your flyer...

hopefully taken in a comradely etc fashion.

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May 8 2007 19:10
Demogorgon303 wrote:
Isn't this being a bit hypercritical? I mean if I had a penny for everytime someone has said to me "well, nice idea but it would never work" I'd be ... well, a capitalist.

Surely it should be ''Not just a nice idea'', otherwise reading it it makes it sound like your saying ''Communism, it may not be pleasant but it is neccesarry'' which is a proper mad statement. And not meaning to be rude but calling it a ''material neccessity'' will make most people think you sound like a fruitloop.

Quote:
And let's not forget how Marx defined it in The German Ideology: "Communism is for us not a state of affairs which is to be established, an ideal to which reality [will] have to adjust itself. We call communism the real movement which abolishes the present state of things."

Lol. ''Lets Abolish the present state of things'' is verging onto father ted territory

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May 8 2007 20:00

Well, it wasn't my flyer, I'm not part of the ICC.

I agree that adding that "just" in there does make it sound better and that would have been a "comradely criticism". That's not quite the same as saying the whole effort is Blanquist!

That aside, the fact remains that communism is not simply an "idea". It existed as a reality for most of our history as a species, albeit in a rather limited form. It clearly has the potential to do so again and in the sense that it is now the only form of society that can progress human civilisation (as opposed to capitalism which is destroying it) it is a material necessity don't you think?

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May 8 2007 20:09

I don't even think it rates as a nice idea. It sounds shit actually, unless, like, you're really needy, know what I mean?

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May 8 2007 20:50
Quote:
it makes it sound like your saying ''Communism, it may not be pleasant but it is neccesarry'' which is a proper mad statement.

Oh charming, it's one of mine as it happens. I think the Left Communists nicked it. I plagiarised the notion from MD.

Lurch
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May 8 2007 22:36

Spot on can'tdocartwheels. It really should be "Communism is Not Just a Nice Idea..."

For the nerdy (as opposed to Lazy's 'needy' ), that was generally the title under which the series of articles - some of which are now a book - appeared in the International Review.

Probably more productive to nit-pick - or discuss, even - their content rather than the title, but...

There's plenty to knock the ICC about in the book, let alone the title.

For a start, these people clearly couldn't organise their way out of a mass assembly: these writings on which the book (and public meetings) are based were "originally envisaged as a short series of articles."

That was 17 years ago! At best, incompetents. At worst, well, you know what people say.

Over 230 packed pages - no pictures or bits to colour in - from Primitive Communism to 1905, by way of, well look for yourselves if you can be arsed. And that's just the First Volume!

Whatever next? Perhaps that's what its about.

ernie
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May 8 2007 23:03

Lurch, you could add the sheer lunacy of wanting to make these article available in a series of books so a wider audience could read it. Also the dottiness of publishing the only -as far as I know- series of books in English (or any other language) that seeks to make an analysis of the development of the workers' movements understanding of communism over the last two centuries.
If anyone knows of any other books dealing in this depth and breath with the question of communism from a militant perspective (or even those without such breath and depth) we would be interested to read them and may be take up their analysis in future articles.

Mike Harman
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May 8 2007 23:10

Bookchin has a go at it in the (four volume) Third Revolution, you won't like it though. I'm amazed you've managed to let it pass you by since it's been mentioned on here several times.

ernie
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May 8 2007 23:14

Si, etc have you actually read beyond the title or is your interest only to mock the ICC? Why not read the book and make a critique. After all it is not every day you get the opportunity to read a book about Communism which is seeking to put forwards the true depth and meaning of what we are all struggling for and at such historical and theoretical depth. You may totally disagree with our analysis,but you will probably find yourselves agreeing much more than you think, but the point is it is there to be read and discussed. It may be a sad and soppy idea to wanted to defend Communism at a time when it is under such attack by the ruling class, but then the whole of bourgeoisie ideology is seeking to convince the working class that communism and even the very idea of freeing themselves from capitalism is sad and soppy.

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May 9 2007 01:03
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the whole of bourgeoisie ideology is seeking to convince the working class that communism and even the very idea of freeing themselves from capitalism is sad and soppy.

Oh boo hoo. Did the naughty capitalists tease you again? Diddums.

si
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May 9 2007 09:40

ernie: I had meant to but I think we watched a film or something.

nah. if I can get the book for a couple of quid I might give it a shot. Frankly, though, I don't expect that the ICC's house style 'Barricade' translates well to works of that length. It's only rarely that I've managed to finish one of your paragraphs...

ernie
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May 9 2007 16:45

Catch, thanks for pointing out the Bookchin books, I had seen reference to it but did not realise it was about communism. Will give it a look and read.

ernie
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May 9 2007 16:47

Si, Vol 1 costs £7.50 including post and package.
The reference to our house style is a bit puzzling,what does the 'baricade' translate" mean?

Mike Harman
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May 9 2007 16:53
ernie wrote:
Catch, thanks for pointing out the Bookchin books, I had seen reference to it but did not realise it was about communism. Will give it a look and read.

Well it's about the revolutions of the past 200 years from an anarchist/communist perspective. Bookchin went out of his way linguistically to avoid using the word communism (and anarchism later on) in just about everything he wrote, replacing it with communalism eventually I think (which it turns out has got it's own, worse connotations I doubt he was aware of). I've only read the first volume so far, it was a decent read though.

lem
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May 9 2007 18:54

lol at lazy riser on this thread.

si
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May 9 2007 19:17

ernie: it was a joke, mate. probably one of those 'you either get it or you don't' things.

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May 10 2007 07:34

OK, the title is ambiguous, but the idea is to provoke thought. 'Not just' would have been better but harder to fit. In fact a large part of the book is precisely about the evolving consciousness about the possibility of communism and not 'just' its material necessity. And I certainly prefer Marx's vision of communism to Lazy Riser's ideal of unlimited time spent in self-managed supermarkets.

ernie
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May 10 2007 15:31

Catch, thanks for the further information on Bookchin, glade to hear you have only started on vol1, reading all four in order to be able to comment fully would be a tall order in the short term. Also need to read Cleaver's Reading Marx Politically seeing it too has an important place for many using this forum. What would you say was another book that has an important place for libertarian communists?

Mike Harman
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May 10 2007 21:21

Third Revolution is too recent to have much effect, and I've been more enthusiastic than some about Bookchin on here so these shouldn't be taken as general recommendations - social anarchism or lifestyle anarchism has had a bit of influence I think, and I guess Post Scarcity Anarchism a lot of people start with. I don't expect you to read and comment on all of it, although being the ICC I wouldn't put it past you, but it is a serious attempt to analyse the revolutions from almost the German peasant revolts to Spain '36 or maybe even Hungary and in the context of this thread was worth bringing up.

Cleaver - I think RCP was instrumental in showing the various Marxist splits leftwards from Leninism and Trotskyism for a fair few people on here - but that's the introduction, not the main subject of the book. I don't think the the analysis of capital vol 1 itself, the main subject of the book, has had such a big influence, - it probably persuaded a fair few people to actually read Capital though (not me, I'd already read vol 1. by the time I got to it, ironically it was an old friend of Bookchin's who told me to go read Capital).

lem
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May 10 2007 21:35

i jmean does anyone ever feel like lazy rizer really really hates you. its ever so slightlyu disconcerting tbh.