The communist left and internationalist anarchism

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Jul 13 2010 21:06
The communist left and internationalist anarchism

The first article explaining why we support recent advances in the debate between left communists and internationalist anarchists. Perhaps a better starting point for a discussion than the question of 'platformism'.

http://en.internationalism.org/wr/336/anarchism..

This is part of the July World Revolution which has just come out online, along with a number of other articles (austerity attacks in the UK and Europe and workers' responses, strikes in Kashmir, Kyrgyzstan pogroms and problems of Russian imperialism, oil slicks in the Gulf of Mexico and Nigeria, the Israel v Turkey conflict, etc.

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Jul 13 2010 21:27

Also the new Internationalism (ICC paper in the US) is out, with an article that is very relevant to this discussion - on the legacy of Ricardo Flores Magon:

http://en.internationalism.org/inter/155/magon

Boris Badenov
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Jul 14 2010 00:29

Yeah, they really do demarcate two camps. Maybe not the interpretation of the Russian Revolution (although that certainly counts), but the difference between centralism and federalism is the difference between state capitalism and communism.
I don't get the "idealism" thing either. Class struggle anarchists are most certainly materialists, and wanting to "immediately abolish the state" is not idealistic.
I agree that the rejection of electioneering and "an intransigent internationalism" are common ground, more or less, but I'm not sure what this means practically.

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Jul 14 2010 00:56

I think this is a very good step on the part of the communist left. As the article states it is not something "new". Marxist and anarchist "communists" have been fighting shoulder to shoulder in various small or great class battles for long. This history of comradeship is very crucial and should never be forgotten. I generally agree with the differences. My personal opinion is that;

Quote:
the difference between centralism and federalism is the difference between state capitalism and communism

Well even the concept "state capitalism" might have been developed first by Bukharin in early 1910's - at least I don't know an earlier usage or at least a well defined framework-. But for the marxists the question of state capitalism is not about its "centralism". For instance, for left communists yugoslavian self-management model can also be a state capitalism while it might not be that centralized on at least factory level. I do not want to enter into a polemic here. I might accept -for instance- the idea that even in the self managed cases there may be a difference between "control" and "management" as Brinton discuss in his book on Russia. In any case, I think even the Stalinist era was not that centralized in Russia. In fact the reason why stalinist counter revolutionary regime shed too many blood may be perceieved as a weakness of state capitalism, since most of the purges in russia ended up with the losing sight of center's original intentions in the "stalinist campaigns", in localities where the center had hardly any control over crucial agents apart from ideological connection.

Please do not misunderstood. I do not want to imply that stalin was "democratic". But at least I tend to think that, stalin -for instance- was not the all powerful dictator as its western liberal critics tried portray during the cold war - which the stalinist self image did not have much to object-.

Even the Cheka -as a clear instrument of state capitalism- was not a centralized apparatus. The center lost control over the political police various times -especially in winters where there were hardly any connection with localities even till 30's-. Even in St.Petersburg, the local cheka acted on its own behalf against the will of both the party and most importantly the center.

Anyway this is totally another issue, probably close to materialism/idealism debate which I think is at the hearth of the difference. What I personally understand from that is the centrality of the "authority" concept in the anarchist theory - which is another debate.

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Jul 14 2010 01:01
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Recognition or denunciation of the October 1917 revolution and of the Bolshevik party

Was this written by someone who knows nothing about the subject? Anarchists and other anti-bolshevik communists don't fail to recognise the 1917 revolution nor denounce it - they denounce the anti-working class role of the Bolsheviks in those events. This is because the Party and the revolution are not seen as identical.

soyonstout
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Jul 14 2010 04:13
Ret Marut wrote:
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Recognition or denunciation of the October 1917 revolution and of the Bolshevik party

Was this written by someone who knows nothing about the subject? Anarchists and other anti-bolshevik communists don't fail to recognise the 1917 revolution nor denounce it - they denounce the anti-working class role of the Bolsheviks in those events. This is because the Party and the revolution are not seen as identical.

I didn't initially read this as conflating the two (RR and RSDLP-B), but rather that the issue was set aside as the main concrete historical event about which there are huge divergences between anarchists and marxists, both on the nature of the Russian Revolution (bourgeois or proletarian) and the class nature of the Bolshevik party (bourgeois or proletarian-up-to-a-certain-point-in-history). I don't think that the text meant to imply that everyone who doesn't speak kindly of Lenin necessarily dismisses or scorns the Russian Revolution and what the workers did.

I have to say I'm really excited by this article and I've been excited about the ICC's re-examination of anarchism in recent years--I also think its good to communicate what we see as putting some anarchists on the side of the proletariat and others on the side of the bourgeoisie, even if some of the anarchists that are clearly on the side of the workers have different criteria for making these distinctions.

-soyons tout

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Jul 14 2010 05:49

I agree the formulation on the Russian revolution could have been clearer. But It specifically talks about October and, even though many anarchists did participate in the insurrection, I would say that the majority of libertarians today see October itself as a coup d'Etat rather than a proletarian action.

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Jul 14 2010 07:22
Quote:
Yeah, they really do demarcate two camps. Maybe not the interpretation of the Russian Revolution (although that certainly counts), but the difference between centralism and federalism is the difference between state capitalism and communism.

I'm not sure I understand why you identify centralism with state capitalism. Certainly state capitalism represents a certain type of centralism but this doesn't automatically mean all centralism is state capitalism.

On an economic level, it's impossible to abolish exchange relations without establishing a co-ordinated plan for production and redistribution. Similarly, the proletariat is stronger in its fight against capital when it unifies itself.

Going back to the original article, do people think left communists and anarchists have a common cause? I think this is a valid question regardless of whether people want to work with the ICC in particular.

Battlescarred
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Jul 14 2010 08:47
Alf wrote:
I agree the formulation on the Russian revolution could have been clearer. But It specifically talks about October and, even though many anarchists did participate in the insurrection, I would say that the majority of libertarians today see October itself as a coup d'Etat rather than a proletarian action.

No, as Arshinov points out in his article Two Octobers there were indeed two Octobers that which involved mass action and the further development of working class and peasant organisation and that which involved a coup d'etat and the setting of of organs of "Supreme Power" unilaterally by the Bolsheviks from the other revolutionary groups and the masses as for example in Moscow. The sweeping aside of the Constituent Assembly meant different things for the anarchists than they did for the Bolsheviks as they did for the Maximalists, Left SRS and non-aligned revolutionaries who all took part in the events of October.

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Jul 14 2010 09:37

The 2 camps are not marxism or anarchism.

The 2 camps are between those who authentically are struggling to subvert their alienation and the alien society in which it's based and those who are content to preserve a "revolutionary" role; this is regardless of whether they call themselves anarchists, marxists, surrealists, situationists, autonomists, communists, stirnerite-debordo-korshchian-Bash Street kiddist Sufis or don't have a label.

The anarchist role and the marxist role might be different in immediate content and in some of their understanding of history, but what unites them in maintaining their alienation is their other-directedness, their idea that they have embarked on an irreversible "movement of becoming" (which in fact never makes any progress) and it's just a question of convincing others , the essentially vanguardist role which never leads anyone anywhere, their specialist notion of themselves, their didactic/political role whose function is to win others over, to seduce them into their organisation or their essentially fixed critique. That's why these politicos are so boring - they are always representing their organisation or clique. Revolution is first of all for yourself - a world-historical self inseparable from the desire and struggle for community based on the dialectic between your own needs and the needs of the rest of the masses of individuals; and from the need to influence and be influenced.

All this stuff fom the ICC is part of their charm offensive, to show how they're not like the old sectarian ICC, how they're "open" whilst temporarily hiding their more crude "party building" agenda; but, apart from those who pass through the organisation temporarily, they're all petrified intellectuals who can't even get the most basic things right ( see this for the ICC's finest hour.

Quote:
"Bolshevism did not begin with the Bolsheviks. Revoutionaries created it when they concluded that the workers by themselves could not destroy capitalism without leaders and without concentrated centres of class consciousness. The 1st International was the first party of consciousness. In its program - model for all Bolshevik programs to come - Marx put forward openly reformist ieas because he believed they would draw the masses to his party where they would eventually learn the whole truth. Modern day Bolshevism is the logical outcome of this mediated view of revolution. Political consciousness is no longer a means to an end; it becomes an end in itself"

- Call It Sleep (Cronin and Seltzer, 1982)

Battlescarred
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Jul 14 2010 09:53

Situationist garbage. To compare the first class organisation to the Bolsheviks is false, innaccurate and reductionist, taking no account of the many different currents within it.

rata
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Jul 14 2010 10:33
Demogorgon303 wrote:
On an economic level, it's impossible to abolish exchange relations without establishing a co-ordinated plan for production and redistribution.

Which is how linked to idea of centralism? You don't think that a coordinated plan for production and redistribution can be made in a federalist manner?

Demogorgon303 wrote:
Similarly, the proletariat is stronger in its fight against capital when it unifies itself.

Again, how does this have anything to do with centralism? Proletariat can be unified in a fight against capital in federalist structures. In fact that is the only way proletariat can really be unified, and not subjected to some alienated centre.

Demogorgon303 wrote:
Going back to the original article, do people think left communists and anarchists have a common cause? I think this is a valid question regardless of whether people want to work with the ICC in particular.

Yes they do, as well as with Trots, Stalinists, Maoists and all other communists.

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Jul 14 2010 10:52

Well, I read ICC's article with interest and also welcome meaningful debate and co-operation.

I agree with rata's point above...except for the last. I'd much rather read the ICC's analyses from around the world than that of most Trots. Elsewhere, you made the assertion that at least the latter - as well as Maoists and so on, had some grounding in reality because of their greater influence? By the same logic, social democracy would be the most grounded 'left-wing' political movement. The point is that - specifics aside - these types of politics gain a larger audience precisely because they already fit in with pre-existing ideological assumptions; playing on reformist and simplistic demands, fitting in with nationalism rather than questioning etc.

The paragraph on our differences leapt out for me too.

I'm a materialist, most definitely not an idealist! Anarchists' insistence on questioning authority can, and sometimes is, expressed in idealistic or moralistic terms. But in reality it's a revolutinary principle that leads to a material understanding of how to organise, of how to genuinely remake this world into one that's "classless" etc.

The centralism/federalism division is bizarre, because I highly doubt the ICC is consciously working towards a dictatorship in the traditional sense. Rather, federalism is often mistakenly understand as being a fractured and disconnected state of affairs, where people, groups, industries do what they want irrespective of everyone else. Actually, federalism for anarchists is taken to mean a highly ordered method of organisation, unlike the purely local, dispersed model, where things can be co-ordinated - through direct democracy - regionally, and 'internationally'.

On the period of tansition: I still have very little idea of what the ICC advocate in contrast to anarchists.

And Battlescarred has already hit the nail on the head in regards how we see the Russian Revolution.

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Jul 14 2010 11:17

Battlescared in response to this:

Quote:
Bolshevism did not begin with the Bolsheviks. Revolutionaries created it when they concluded that the workers by themselves could not destroy capitalism without leaders and without concentrated centres of class consciousness. The 1st International was the first party of consciousness. In its program - model for all Bolshevik programs to come - Marx put forward openly reformist ideas because he believed they would draw the masses to his party where they would eventually learn the whole truth. Modern day Bolshevism is the logical outcome of this mediated view of revolution. Political consciousness is no longer a means to an end; it becomes an end in itself

wrote:

Quote:
Situationist garbage. To compare the first class organisation to the Bolsheviks is false, innaccurate and reductionist, taking no account of the many different currents within it.

Agree with the "reductionist, taking no account of the many different currents within it." bit - but then it was partly an attack on Marx playing politics. I guess you wouldn't disagree with a critique of his repeated calumnies against Bakunin, for instance; but maybe you feel ok about the political game strategy of hiding "the whole truth-as-you-see-it"...? And you avoid the critique of "concentrated centres of class consciousness" bit, for obvious reasons - Anarchist Federation garbage, this knee-jerk reaction to a critique of political organisations. And it's not at all "Situationist" in the sense of the SI, the members of which obviously believed in concentrated centers of class consciousness (themselves, to begin with).

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Jul 14 2010 11:20
Volin wrote:
I'm a materialist, most definitely not an idealist!
ICC wrote:
Those who identify with the struggle for the revolution have traditionally been classed in two categories: the marxists and the anarchists. And there are indeed important divergences between them:

- Centralism/federalism

- Materialism/idealism

- Period of transition or ‘immediate abolition of the state'

- Recognition or denunciation of the October 1917 revolution and of the Bolshevik party

I think this is just wrong. I don't think anarchism is in any way 'idealistic', and is based on the same materialist conception of history as Marxism.

Volin wrote:
On the period of tansition: I still have very little idea of what the ICC advocate in contrast to anarchists.

The ICC's position can be found here.

Devrim

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Jul 14 2010 11:30

Thanks, I'll read up on it.

Battlescarred
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Jul 14 2010 11:34

Ah yes, the "semi-state" ( Not really a state at all comrade"!) one where I can be semi-repressed, semi-imprisoned , semi-shot, and where my freedom of opinion, assembly and press and to strike can be semi-shut down.
I've heard the same kind of sophistries from the likes of Trotskyists like Workers Power! So what's the difference?

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Jul 14 2010 12:07
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Which is how linked to idea of centralism? You don't think that a coordinated plan for production and redistribution can be made in a federalist manner?

Given that any such plan would necessarily have to be centralised, because the "federal" bodies would have to come together to discuss it, agree on actions to be carried out by the relevant "federal" bodies, etc. I'm not quite sure I understand your point.

Quote:
Again, how does this have anything to do with centralism? Proletariat can be unified in a fight against capital in federalist structures. In fact that is the only way proletariat can really be unified, and not subjected to some alienated centre.

You've presented no evidence that such a centre must necessarily be alienated. The federal structures themselves will most likely be "centralised" bodies, regrouping smaller and disparate components. For example, is a factory committee a centralised or a federal body? On the one hand it represents the unified will of a mass assembly at a given factory - I would call it a centralising body. I don't think such a committee is necessarily "alienated". If a group of factory committees elects a "super-committee" to co-ordinate the actions of the individual FCs, again I would say this is a centralised body.

That's how I would see centralisation working, but perhaps you understand centralisation in a different way?

Quote:
Yes they do, as well as with Trots, Stalinists, Maoists and all other communists.

We think that these currents represent bourgeois ideology and that their goal (irrespective of what their individual adherents think) has nothing to do with communism. That's why we don't work with them. Do you disagree or just don't think it matters for purposes of organisation?

Quote:
Ah yes, the "semi-state" ( Not really a state at all comrade"!) one where I can be semi-repressed, semi-imprisoned , semi-shot, and where my freedom of opinion, assembly and press and to strike can be semi-shut down.

This seems a bit abstract. We don't think state power under any circumstances should be directed against the working class - if state power began to be used in such a way it would be a sign of the state detaching itself from the working class and becoming counter-revolutionary. But I don't see many objections to using these tactics against the bourgeoisie. During the course of the revolution and its aftermath I can quite see capitalists and their agents being repressed, imprisoned, etc.

Finally, maybe we should create separate threads to discuss the different areas of disagreement our article identified (or any others people can think of) rather than having them all together in one mega-thread?

rata
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Jul 14 2010 14:38
Volin wrote:
I agree with rata's point above...except for the last. I'd much rather read the ICC's analyses from around the world than that of most Trots. Elsewhere, you made the assertion that at least the latter - as well as Maoists and so on, had some grounding in reality because of their greater influence? By the same logic, social democracy would be the most grounded 'left-wing' political movement.

No, that is not the same logic, as social democracy for many many decades now doesn't have as it's proclaimed goal creation of classless society.

Battlescarred wrote:
Ah yes, the "semi-state" ( Not really a state at all comrade"!) one where I can be semi-repressed, semi-imprisoned , semi-shot, and where my freedom of opinion, assembly and press and to strike can be semi-shut down. I've heard the same kind of sophistries from the likes of Trotskyists like Workers Power! So what's the difference?

And not only them, it's a joint trip of majority of authoritarian communists, at least theoretically.

Demogorgon303 wrote:
Given that any such plan would necessarily have to be centralised, because the "federal" bodies would have to come together to discuss it, agree on actions to be carried out by the relevant "federal" bodies, etc. I'm not quite sure I understand your point.

Well, it seams that we have similar problem - I don't understand your point, as it seams that you think that any meeting and making of joint decisions of federal bodies is - centralization - which is a bizarre idea to say at least.

Demogorgon303 wrote:
You've presented no evidence that such a centre must necessarily be alienated. The federal structures themselves will most likely be "centralised" bodies, regrouping smaller and disparate components. For example, is a factory committee a centralised or a federal body? On the one hand it represents the unified will of a mass assembly at a given factory - I would call it a centralising body. I don't think such a committee is necessarily "alienated". If a group of factory committees elects a "super-committee" to co-ordinate the actions of the individual FCs, again I would say this is a centralised body.

That's how I would see centralisation working, but perhaps you understand centralisation in a different way?

There is two sides to this problem - first, a bizarre thing that I mentioned earlier, in which you see meeting and decision making (in this case of a factory committee) as a process of centralization - which I really don't understand, and second - the problem of the centralization itself, underlined here as a ""centralised" bodies, regrouping smaller and disparate components". That is what makes centre alienated, the fact that it has power to regroup it's smaller components. And that is the problem anarchists have with it.

Demogorgon303 wrote:
rata wrote:
Yes they do, as well as with Trots, Stalinists, Maoists and all other communists.

We think that these currents represent bourgeois ideology and that their goal (irrespective of what their individual adherents think) has nothing to do with communism. That's why we don't work with them. Do you disagree or just don't think it matters for purposes of organisation?

I disagree, they have as much to do with communism as ICC has. If you read Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin or Mao, you can see that this people were communists who were authoritarians, and that basic flaw in their ideology generated many of their fault reasoning. Same goes for their followers in present day authoritarian communist organizations. And while top down structures brings many of their idiocy by itself, I find it highly problematic to have a shallow critique of them as people who are not communists because of the strategical differences one might have with them. By misrepresenting their positions, which is what authoritarian communists have done with the anarchists for ages, you are just giving ammo to be dismissed as an fallacious critique by anybody really reading and understanding their positions.

Demogorgon303 wrote:
Battlescarred wrote:
Ah yes, the "semi-state" ( Not really a state at all comrade"!) one where I can be semi-repressed, semi-imprisoned , semi-shot, and where my freedom of opinion, assembly and press and to strike can be semi-shut down.

This seems a bit abstract. We don't think state power under any circumstances should be directed against the working class - if state power began to be used in such a way it would be a sign of the state detaching itself from the working class and becoming counter-revolutionary. But I don't see many objections to using these tactics against the bourgeoisie. During the course of the revolution and its aftermath I can quite see capitalists and their agents being repressed, imprisoned, etc.

Well, obviously that is the problem, as anarchists think that any state power is by definition directed against the working class, as well as the fact that we think that all structures which are based on top down hierarchies, such as state, are by definition detached of the working class and in the services of the ruling class.

Of course there is no objection to repression of the ruling class during the revolution, this is one of the topics that many authoritarian communists, most notable Lenin in "State and revolution", tried to suggest - that anarchists have idea that by abolishing the state, ruling class will disappear and everything is going to be swell. Basing their critique on that false premise, they are concluding that their position is much serious one, as it takes into account that during transitional phase there will be a need for repressive apparatus which would suppress reactionary elements, claiming that anarchists don't understand that. While the situation is that we just don't think that repressive apparatuses should be top down controlled by state or other anti-workers structures. If a role of the state, which would be state of federally connected workers councils, would be just that repression, than we could conclude that what we are talking about is just semantic discussion, but it's clear from ICC resolution that they don't think the state should have that role - thus "independent armed unitary organs" - it seams that they see a state as a catalyst for some weird idea of communist jurisprudence.

Demogorgon303 wrote:
Finally, maybe we should create separate threads to discuss the different areas of disagreement our article identified (or any others people can think of) rather than having them all together in one mega-thread?

I am against splitting, I love mega-threads.

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Jul 15 2010 05:48
Rata wrote:
I disagree, they have as much to do with communism as ICC has.

Do you think that an organisation like the ICC which argues for workers to control their own struggles 'has as much to do with communism' as Maoists organising 'people's war' in the mountains?

Devrim

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Jul 15 2010 06:05
Rata wrote:
If a role of the state, which would be state of federally connected workers councils, would be just that repression, than we could conclude that what we are talking about is just semantic discussion, but it's clear from ICC resolution that they don't think the state should have that role - thus "independent armed unitary organs"

I think that the question of what the state is is bound up with the whole concept of the period of transition, and the relationship of the working class to other non-exploitative classes, which in large parts of the world means the peasantry. How are these people to be included within a new society. Do we advocate that they should be 'disenfranchised' whilst the working class takes power through its councils? Surely there must be some way in which they are represented within a new society. In this sense talk of a semi-state has more relevance in the 'less developed' countries.

Rata wrote:
Well, obviously that is the problem, as anarchists think that any state power is by definition directed against the working class,
ICC wrote:
This is why one cannot talk about a “socialist state”, a “workers’ state” nor a “proletarian state” during the period of transition.

This antagonism between the proletariat and the state manifests itself both on the immediate and the historic level.

On the immediate level, the proletariat will have to oppose the encroachments and the pressure of a state which is the manifestation of a society divided into antagonistic classes. On the historic level, the necessary disappearance of the state in communist society, which is a perspective which marxism always defended, will not be the result of the state’s own dynamic, but the fruit of the pressure mounted on it by the proletariat in its own movement forward, which will progressively deprive it of all its attributes as the progress towards a classless society unfolds. For these reasons, while the proletariat will have to use the state during the transition period, it must retain a complete independence from it. In this sense the dic­tatorship of the proletariat cannot be confused with the state. Between the two there is a constant relation of force which the prole­tariat will have to maintain in its favour: the dictatorship of the proletariat is exerted by the working class itself through its own independent armed unitary organs: the workers’ councils. The workers’ councils will partici­pate in the territorial soviets (in which the whole non—exploiting population is represented and from which the state structure will emanate) without confusing themselves with them, in order to ensure its class hegemony over all the structures of the society of the transitional period.

Devrim

mciver
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Jul 15 2010 14:18
Quote:
The first article explaining why we support recent advances in the debate between left communists and internationalist anarchists. Perhaps a better starting point for a discussion than the question of 'platformism'.

http://en.internationalism.org/wr/336/anarchism..

At the moment the link leads to a dead-end reading: Sorry, we could not find the page you asked for

Since we have just reorganised the site, it is possible that the article or text that you are looking for has changed place....

Probably some coding laziness. Bad omen for the world proletariat, as it searches for new pearls of wisdom.

Dead-end apart, the ICC's portal is clunky and anti-intuitive, a labyrinthian homage to web retroism. Its only graphic is the hammering Bolshevik prole, perennially poised to smash skulls of enemies (like parasites). This graphic brutality bodes no good, but it fits the brand perfectly, like the site.

But never mind, it's quite unlikely that the 'advances' in the promised article advance anything 'in the debate between left communists and internationalist anarchists' (presumably the 'best' anarchists according to the apparat). Was there a 'debate' from 1918 onwards? And how do you debate with a nagan magnetised by the nape of your neck? It will be difficult to explain away the exterminatory policy of the Cheka against anarchism since 1918, but one stands to be illuminated. Still, a bad period, so the apparat will attempt to surf fast to post 68, with a few anecdotes about Voline, Makhno and Miasnikov in France in the period leading to WW2. But there wasn't much of a 'debate' then either.

Whereas a serious critic would detect a well tuned and murderous class instinct in Bolshevism, the apparat and their fans feed mythologies around 'mistakes', 'lack of experience', and farcical psychobabble (like Dzerzhinsky's drunken seizures), as apologies for mass terror and genocidal policies.

The various Russian 'left communists' didn't lift a finger to defend anarchists. Left communists were loyal members of the ruling state party and even if some fretted over Kronstadt and the merciless war (not only by the Cheka but by the Red Army) against anarchists, the working class and the peasantry, this growing and brutal repression didn't lead left communists to break with the Red Leviathan when it mattered.

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Jul 15 2010 17:47
mciver wrote:
http://en.internationalism.org/wr/336/anarchism..

At the moment the link leads to a dead-end reading: Sorry, we could not find the page you asked for

You just need to remove the period after the URL.
http://en.internationalism.org/wr/336/anarchism

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Jul 15 2010 17:54
Quote:
The various Russian 'left communists' didn't lift a finger to defend anarchists. Left communists were loyal members of the ruling state party and even if some fretted over Kronstadt and the merciless war (not only by the Cheka but by the Red Army) against anarchists, the working class and the peasantry, this growing and brutal repression didn't lead left communists to break with the Red Leviathan when it mattered.

Do you have any proof, any text/document etc.?

nastyned
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Jul 15 2010 17:58

Yes, I thought left communists were the first to volunteer to crush the krondstadt rebels.

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mikail firtinaci
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Aug 8 2010 06:19
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Yes, I thought left communists were the first to volunteer to crush the krondstadt rebels.

That is wrong. You may be confusing with Kollantai and her workers' opposition. They were on the left but not left communists...

Dave B
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Jul 15 2010 19:24

mikail firtinaci wrote:

Quote:
Well even the concept "state capitalism" might have been developed first by Bukharin in early 1910's - at least I don't know an earlier usage or at least a well defined framework-.

Modern Science and Anarchism, Peter Kropotkin 1903. IX.

Quote:
It will be clear, even from the hasty hints given already, why it is that we come to conclusions so different from those of the majority of economists, both of the middle class and the social-democratic schools; why we do not regard as "laws" certain of the temporary relations pointed out by them; why we expound socialism entirely differently; and why, after studying the tendencies and developments in the economic life of different nations, we come to such radically different conclusions as regards that which is desirable and possible; why we come to Free Communism, while the majority of socialists arrive at State-capitalism and Collectivism.

http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/Anarchist_Archives/kropotkin/science/scienceIX.html

Piotr Kropotkin, Anarchism, (1905)

Quote:
The state organization, having always been, both in ancient and modern history (Macedonian empire, Roman empire, modern European states grown up on the ruins of the autonomous cities), the instrument for establishing monopolies in favour of the ruling minorities, cannot be made to work for the destruction of these monopolies. The anarchists consider, therefore, that to hand over to the state all the main sources of economical life - the land, the mines, the railways, banking, insurance, and so on - as also the management of all the main branches of industry, in addition to all the functions already accumulated in its hands (education, state-supported religions, defence of the territory, etc.), would mean to create a new instrument of tyranny. State capitalism would only increase the powers of bureaucracy and capitalism. True progress lies in the direction of decentralization, both territorial and functional, in the development of the spirit of local and personal initiative, and of free federation from the simple to the compound, in lieu of the present hierarchy from the centre to the periphery.

http://www.panarchy.org/kropotkin/1905.eng.html

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mikail firtinaci
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Jul 15 2010 19:49

Demagorgon;

Quote:
But I don't see many objections to using these tactics against the bourgeoisie.

what do you think about the dispute between Lenin and Miasnikov?

http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1921/aug/05.htm

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mikail firtinaci
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Jul 15 2010 20:18

Dave-B;

thanks for the quotes. I haven't read Kropotkin's Modern Science and Anarchism before so I will surely check it now. But Bukharin of 1915 have a similar -though from a more materialist stand- is this;

Quote:
And the revisionist E. Fisher, in addition to claiming that “Socialism is essentially nothing but the carrying over of the state idea (Staatsgedankens) into the national economy and social life in general,” tries his utmost to find socialism, referring to monopolization of the various branches of production with such strange names as “electrical socialism,” “water socialism,” and so forth.[46] These misleading phrases obscure the reality of the matter, namely, that in “war socialism” class contradictions not only persist but reach their maximum intensity. In the ideal type of imperialist state the process of exploitation is not hidden by any secondary forms: the mask of a supraclass institution that looks after everyone alike is torn away from the state. This is the basic fact, and it thoroughly demolishes the arguments of the renegades. For socialism is regulated production, regulated by society, not by the state (state socialism is about as useful as leaky boots); it is the elimination of class contradictions, not their intensification. On its own, the regulation of production is far from signifying socialism: it occurs in every familial economy, among every slave-owning natural-economic group. What we in fact expect in the near future is state capitalism.

So unlike kropotkin who saw an essentialist antagonism between centralism -as statism- and anarchy, for marxist Bukharin state capitalism was a historical tendency and not an expression of an eternal dichotomy; "always being"

Quote:
both in ancient and modern history (Macedonian empire, Roman empire, modern European states grown up on the ruins of the autonomous cities), the instrument for establishing monopolies in favour of the ruling minorities, cannot be made to work for the destruction of these monopolies.

Bukharin says;

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Thus, state capitalism is the completed form of a state-capitalist trust. The process of organization gradually removes the anarchy of separate components of the “national-economic” mechanism, placing the whole of economic life under the iron heel of the militaristic state.

In that sense there is a dialectical move from economical chaos to statism which does not mean progress but militarist-imperialist decadance. (It is important that this is 1915 when written);

Quote:
Any further development of the state organisms – before the socialist revolution – is possible only in the form of militaristic state capitalism. Centralization is becoming the centralization of a barracks. In the upper stratum of society a vile military clique is inevitably growing in strength, resulting in brutal drilling and bloody repression of the proletariat. On the other hand, we have already seen that any activity by the proletariat, under these conditions, is inevitably directed against state power. Hence, a definite tactical demand: Social democracy must forcefully underline its hostility, in principle, to state power.

The difference I quess is on the one hand Kropotkin's more essentialist approach towards centralization as an ultimate evil and Bukharin's more historical materialist one which does not concentrate on singly the form of the organisation but also its content.

In that sense for instance, Kropotkin's rather "idealist" hostility towards what he called state capitalism might be the thing that led him to support allies against the "German militarism" in the WWI. Because, if state capitalism was the "ultimate evil" its most appearent version must be the ultimate expression of what is against the anarchy. This might be the thing that led him to confuse more democratic states' transformation into state capitalisms' by letting him to miss the formal/outward militarization with content.

So Bukharin's definition -though still being limited in many ways- seems to me as a more accurate definition of the concept which sharpened it and got rid of demagocial garbage attached to the term.

Dave B
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Jul 15 2010 22:42

I think Kropotkins objection to ‘state capitalism’ was both ‘political’ with centralisation etc as well as ‘economic’ with the wage labour and remuneration of the so-called lower phase of communism of ‘collectivism’.

And that collectivism (adopted by some self described anarchists) and the so called labour vouchers of self described Marxists were euphemisms for state capitalism by the back door so to speak.

Incidentally it crops up in Stalin’s; ANARCHISM or SOCIALISM?

Page 357- 358

http://www.marx2mao.com/Stalin/AS07.html#c3

And that for Kropotkin collectivism reproduced the economic relations of capitalism.

Perhaps the following might be a good example of it;

THE CONQUEST OF BREAD by P. Kropotkin CHAPTER 13 The Collectivist Wages System

http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/anarchist_archives/kropotkin/conquest/ch13.html

There is some later material on state capitalism from Bukharin in case you are interested.

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The economic literature of Western Europe conceives state capitalism as the higher form of capitalism in the hands of a bourgeois government; as the most complete and powerful organization conceivable of the capitalistic classes.
Naturally our state capitalism is diametrically opposite to this. But naturally, too, the kind of state capitalism we have in Russia can easily be converted into the kind of state capitalism conceived under a bourgeois government in case the laboring classes lose power in Russia. We are confident, however, that this will not occur.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/bukharin/works/1922/economic-organisation.htm

Quote:
30 State capitalism and the classes

The conduct of the imperialist war was differentiated from that of all previous wars, not only by the dimensions of the conflict and by its devastating effects, but in addition by the fact that in every country actively engaged in the imperialist war the whole of economic life had to be subordinated to war purposes. In former conflicts the bourgeoisie could carry them on merely by providing funds. The world war, however, attained such huge proportions and affected such highly developed countries that money alone did not suffice. It became essential in this war that the steel foundries should devote themselves entirely to the making of heavy guns, whose calibre was continually being enlarged; that coal should be mined for war purposes alone; that metals, textiles, hides, everything, should be employed in war service. Naturally, therefore, the greatest hope of victory was for whichever of the State capitalist trusts could best harness production and transport to the chariot of war.

How was this to be achieved? Manifestly, the only way in which it could be achieved was by the complete centralization of production. It would be necessary to arrange things in such a way that production would go on smoothly; that it would be well organized; that it would be entirely under the control of the fighters, that is to say of the general staff; that all the orders of those wearing epaulets and stars would be punctually carried out.
How could the bourgeoisie do this? The matter was quite simple. To that end it was necessary that' the bourgeoisie should place private production, privately owned trusts and syndicates, at the disposal of the capitalist robber State. This is what they did for the duration of the war. Industry was ' mobilized' and 'militarized', that is to say it was placed under the orders of the State and of the military authorities. 'But how?' some of our readers will ask. ' In that way the bourgeoisie would surely forfeit its income? That would be nationalization! When everything has been handed over to the State, where will the bourgeoisie come in, and how will the capitalists reconcile themselves to such a condition 'of affairs?' It is an actual fact that the bourgeoisie agreed to the arrangement. But there is nothing very remarkable in that, for the privately owned syndicates and trusts were not handed over to the workers' State, but to the imperialist State, the State which belonged to the bourgeoisie. Was there anything to alarm the bourgeoisie in such a prospect? The capitalists simply transferred their possessions from one pocket to another; the possessions remained as large as ever.

We must never forget the class character of the State. The State must not be conceived as constituting a 'third power' standing above the classes; from head to foot it is a class organization. Under the dictatorship of the workers it is a working-class organization. Under the dominion of the bourgeoisie it is just as definitely an economic organization as is a trust or a syndicate.

We see, then, that when the bourgeoisie handed over the privately owned syndicates and trusts to the State, it handed them over to its own State, to the robber capitalist State and not to the proletarian State; consequently it had nothing to lose by the change. Is it not precisely the same thing to a manufacturer, whom we may call Schulz or Smith, whether he receives his profits from the counting-house of a syndicate or from a State-bank? Far from losing by the change, the bourgeoisie actually gained. There was a gain because, through the State centralization of industry, the war machine was enabled to work to better effect, and there was a greater chance of winning the war of rapine.

It is not surprising, therefore, that in nearly all capitalist countries there took place during the war a development of State capitalism in the place of the capitalism of private syndicates or trusts. Germany, for example, gained many successes and was able for a lengthy period to resist attack from enemies of a greatly superior strength, simply because the German bourgeoisie was so successful in the organization of its State capitalism.

The change to State capitalism was effected in various ways. In most cases a State monopoly of production and trade was instituted. This implied that production and trade were placed wholly in the hands of the bourgeois State. Sometimes the transformation was not effected all at once, but by instalments. This took place when the State merely bought some of the shares of the syndicate or trust.

An enterprise in which this had taken place was half private and half a State affair, but the bourgeois State held the leading strings. Furthermore, even when certain enterprises remained in private hands, they were often subjected to governmental control. Some enterprises were by special legislation forced to buy their raw materials from certain others, while the latter had to sell to the former in specified quantities and at fixed prices. The State prescribed working methods, specified what materials were to be used, and rationed these materials. Thus, in place of private capitalism, State capitalism came into being.

Under State capitalism, instead of the separate organizations of the bourgeoisie there now flourishes a united organization, the State organization. Down to the time of the war there existed in any capitalist country the State organization of the bourgeoisie, and there also existed separately from the State large numbers of bourgeois organizations, such as syndicates, trusts, societies of entrepreneurs, landowners' organizations, political parties, journalists' unions, learned societies, artists' clubs, the church, societies for the clergy, Boy Scouts and cadet corps (White Guard organizations of youth), private detective bureaux, etc. Under State capitalism all these separate organizations fuse with the bourgeois State; they become, as it were, State departments, and they work in accordance with a general plan, subject to the 'high command'; in the mines and factories they do whatever is ordered by the general staff; they write in the newspapers under the orders of the general staff; they preach in the churches whatever will be useful to the robbers of the general staff; their pictures, their books, and their poems, are produced under the orders of the general staff; they invent machinery, weapons, poison gas, etc., to meet the needs of the general staff. In this manner the whole of life is militarized in order to secure for the bourgeoisie the continued receipt of its filthy lucre.

State capitalism signifies an enormous accession of strength to the great bourgeoisie. Just as under the working-class dictatorship, in the workers' State, the working class is more powerful in proportion as the soviet authority, the trade unions, the Communist Party, etc., work more harmoniously together, so under the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie the capitalist class is strong in proportion to the success with which all the bourgeois organizations pull together. State capitalism, centralizing all these organizations, converting them all into the instruments of a single, united organization, contributes immensely to the power of capital. Bourgeois dictatorship attains its climax in State capitalism.

State capitalism flourished during the war in all the large capitalist countries. In tsarist Russia, too, it began to make its way (in the form of war industry committees, monopolies, etc.). Subsequently, however, the Russian bourgeoisie, alarmed by the revolution of March, 1917, became afraid lest productive industry should pass into the hands of the proletariat together with the State authority. For this reason, after the March revolution, the bourgeoisie did not merely refrain from attempts to organize production, but positively sabotaged industry.

We see that State capitalism, far from putting an end to exploitation, actually increases the power of the bourgeoisie. Nevertheless the Scheidemannites in Germany, and social solidarians in other lands, have contended that this forced labour is socialism. As soon, they say, as everything is in the hands of the State, socialism will be realized. They fail to see that in such a system the State is not a proletarian State, since it is in the hands of those who are the malicious and deadly enemies of the proletariat.

State capitalism uniting and organizing the bourgeoisie, increasing the power of capitalism, has, of course, greatly weakened the working class. Under State capitalism the workers became the white slaves of the capitalist State. They were deprived of the right to strike; they were mobilized and militarized; everyone who raised his voice against the war was hauled before the courts and sentenced as a traitor. In many countries the workers were deprived of all freedom of movement, being forbidden to transfer from one enterprise to another. ' Free' wage workers were reduced to serfdom; they were doomed to perish on the battlefields, not on behalf of their own cause but on behalf of that of their enemies. They were doomed to work themselves to death, not for their own sake or for that of their comrades or their children, but for the sake of their oppressors.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/bukharin/works/1920/abc/04.htm

Quote:
Here I must raise another question. If the working class does not regard industry as its own, but as State capitalism, if it regards the factory management as a hostile force, and the building up of industry as a matter outside its concerns, and feels itself to be exploited, what is to happen? Shall we then be in a position, let us say, to carry on a campaign for higher production? “What the devil!” the workers would say, “are we to drudge for the capitalists? Only fools would do that.” How could we draw workers into the process of building up industry “What!” they would say, “shall we help the capitalist and build up the system? Only opportunists would do that.” If we say our industry is State capitalism, we shall completely disarm the working class. We dare not then speak of raising productive capacity, because that is the affair of the exploiters and not of the workers. To what end then shall we get larger and larger numbers to take part in our production conferences, if the workers are exploited, and when all that has nothing to do with them? Let the exploiter look after that! If we put the matter in this light, not only shall we be threatened with the danger of estrangement from the masses, but we shall not be in a position to build up our industries. That is as clear as daylight.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/bukharin/works/1926/01/x01.htm

Lenin incidentally, at first anyway, didn’t in fact consider the introduction of state capitalism as part of the lower phase of communism but as a minimum programme.

Eg

http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1917/oct/06.htm

Against the wishes of Bukharin and others at the time who wanted to, with the all important word, ‘introduce’ the lower phase of communism that Lenin called ‘socialism’ in his own State and Revolution.

And as Lenin said himself;

Quote:
The minimum programme is one which is in principle compatible with capitalism and does not go beyond its framework.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1916/dec/07.htm

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mikail firtinaci
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Jul 15 2010 23:25

DB;

thanks for the quotes! It is really interesting how the Bukharin of 1915 -1920 -1922 and 1926 have shifted. As the revolution degerated he started to talk about "our" state capitalism. And in 1926 open defence of it. Though Bukharin himself watered down and later on turned his back to his own definition of the concept, I still think that there is a value of the first definition which is not related to Lenin's claims about state capitalism.

In fact , Stephen Cohen -famous biographer of Bukharin- writes somewhere in his book on Bukharin that one of the most important source of tensions between young bukharin and lenin was the issue of state. His 1915 dated article should be seen in that line because when the article first appeared, I am pretty sure that he was accused of deviating to anarchism. Anyway the question of state inside the Bolshevik party was not handled in a unitary fashion and Lenin's perception was one among the others. The positions taken inside the party in 1920, 1918, 1921, 1923 etc may better be handled in context.

Anyway, about kropotkin;

Quote:
I think Kropotkins objection to ‘state capitalism’ was both ‘political’ with centralisation etc as well as ‘economic’ with the wage labour and remuneration of the so-called lower phase of communism of ‘collectivism’.

And that collectivism (adopted by some self described anarchists) and the so called labour vouchers of self described Marxists were euphemisms for state capitalism by the back door so to speak.

you are absolutely right. I may have missed the context Kropotkin wrote here and I am sorry about that. But still, don't you think that, at least, both Bukharin of 1915 and Kropotkin of 1905 were close in their denounciation of state capitalism while there was a deep difference in method?