Are Council Communists Libertarian?

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Jordan
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Jan 31 2012 09:11
capricorn wrote:
Birthday Pony wrote:
I don't see a problem with not going along with majority decisions, and that doesn't bar the majority from not giving the benefits of the majority decision to the minority.

The idea that a democratically organized hierarchy is acceptable, no matter how benign, seems similar to the logic behind one's "consent" to contracts in An-Cap thought.

That's why you're an anarchist and precisely why I'm not.

If a majority decision (let's say 51%) of a direct assembly in which everybody could vote legalised the slavery of 10% of the population of the political community, would it be the duty of the entire population to go on with that decision once it was passed? Or would they be completely justified in actively organising against it, (without having to rely on building for another vote)?

LBird
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Jan 31 2012 09:34
Birthday Pony wrote:
I don't see a problem with not going along with majority decisions...
[or believe that] the idea that a democratically organized hierarchy is acceptable...

.

capricorn wrote:
That's why you're an anarchist and precisely why I'm not.

This, too, is why I'm not an 'anarchist' (at least, of Birthday Pony's individualist sort*). I'm a Communist, and a Communist does accept 'majority decisions' and believes that a 'democratically-organised' social authority is, not just 'acceptable', but 'inescapable'.

I tried to point out these differences between us to BP on a recent thread, but BP seems unwilling to explore these differences, and seems to believe that 'Communism' is compatible with their 'anti-authoritarian' ideas.

I disagree, and I think at least capricorn does, too.

*I think I have a lot in common with 'class-struggle Anarchists', though, and could imagine myself joining one of their organisations.

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jura
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Jan 31 2012 09:39

Moreover, when a majority at a mass meeting decides to stop a strike, that does not mean it's the right thing to do and that radical minorities should not oppose this and try to escalate the struggle.

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Serge Forward
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Jan 31 2012 09:58

Well, as the numbers game seems to be very important here, and as we're all in the minority in the wider society, let's just go with the majority, not be communists, anarchists or any of that gubbins and instead vote for either Dave Cameron's gang or The Steve Milliband next election and let's go full bourgie!!! It's the right thing to do, y'know wink

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no.25
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Jan 31 2012 10:19

Birthday Pony - I haven't read Tucker myself, the closet encounter with him I've had was through a Paul Avrich book about anarchism in the States, and maybe a Wikipedia article. Individualists tend to only focus on hierarchy in the political sphere, and are extremists in their opposition to all authority. I find it rather annoying myself.

Jordan - Thanks for the clarification, that'd make sense.

Capricorn - I wouldn't consider democratically elected delegates who are instantly recallable and mandated to act in accordance with their community a 'state,' and I describe myself in terms ranging from 'anarchist,' 'anarcho-communist,' and 'libertarian-socialist/communist.' Like radicalgraffiti stated, I don't think it really matters what we call ourselves, but on the other hand, it's good to have a term that we can collectively identify ourselves with, and differentiate ourselves from undesirable tendencies, such as 'individualism' or 'Leninism.' I really don't see an issue with using 'libertarian' in conjunction with socialism or communism, as it's in reference to positive and not negative liberty, but I'm sure you're well aware of this. If there hadn't been a split between tendencies in the IWMA, and if use of 'Communist Party of such and such' hadn't become so prevalent, communism becoming synonymous with totalitarian State-Capitalism, there wouldn't be a need to attach a prefix to 'communist.' Still, I can't help but wonder how many Libcommers approximated their conclusion through anarchism, Marx and Ultra-Left Marxists being later additions to their final conclusion? It makes very little difference I suppose, but I doubt that I'll ever call myself a Marxist or Council-Communist.

To me, anything that isn't socialist or communist isn't anarchist, socialism and communism presupposing common ownership of the means of production, cooperation, and accepting democratic community based decisions. How else could society function? How could we maintain the material conditions of communism, if we weren't able to exercise the authority necessary to do so? I think that most anarchists with a consistent ideology have evolved beyond the vulgar opposition to authority, it's a matter of us being able to partake in this authority, rather than just being subject to some absolute bureaucracy that exists independently of us. If one happened to disagree with whatever rules were democratically agreed upon in a specific commune, they could always relocate to one which is more suited to their inclinations, although I'm sure we'll have international laws. I have to say this though, a society that intrudes into the minute details of your private life and attempts to control them through majority decisions, is a society that has overstepped its boundaries, which is why I would migrate from any puritanical communes.

Sometimes, I think we tend to presume that all directly democratic decisions would take place within reason, but that's highly doubtful, and somewhat utopian. For example: the Shreveport, Louisiana Commune may decide to outlaw abortion. Unless there's an article in a regional, 'national,' or international constitution prohibiting a ban on abortion, what could you do but relocate? What if the international community decides to ban abortion through a majority based decision? Then what? Hypothetical of course, and maybe even unrealistic, but you can't deny that it's a possibility.

You mention Anarcho-Communism and Anarcho-Syndicalism, whose manifestations have been far more prominent than anything which claims to be 'individualist,' making them far more representative of anarchism than any 'individualist' tendencies.

That's just my input, I'm pretty tired, so hopefully I got my point across.

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Jan 31 2012 10:39

Jura #65:

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Moreover, when a majority at a mass meeting decides to stop a strike, that does not mean it's the right thing to do and that radical minorities should not oppose this and try to escalate the struggle.

I would agree with this only to the extent of arguing to reverse the decision to stop a strike (presuming that the strike was winnable). If however you mean a radical minority attempts to undermine the majority decision of the strikers by some kind of direct action then I would completely oppose this as:

(1) the working class must learn by their mistakes

(2) for a minority of radical militants to attempt to impose their will on a section of the working class is based on their individualistic arrogance, just another vanguard - with an anarchist/communist face.

On the larger question of majority decision making post revolution, presumably proper consideration will be made to accommodate minority opinions. This is basic self-interest as at some time we could all find ourselves in a minority position. Therefore before decisions were arrived at provision would be made for dissenters.

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Jan 31 2012 10:42
no.25 wrote:
That's just my input, I'm pretty tired, so hopefully I got my point across.

It made sense to me. Excellently put.

capricorn
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Jan 31 2012 10:59

It's all coming out now, confirming my suspicion that anarchists are not really in favour of democratic decision-making. Another reason for opposing them.

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If a majority decision (let's say 51%) of a direct assembly in which everybody could vote legalised the slavery of 10% of the population of the political community, would it be the duty of the entire population to go on with that decision once it was passed? Or would they be completely justified in actively organising against it, (without having to rely on building for another vote)?

This is not a good example as I don't suppose any assembly would have the right to make such a decision. But what about more mundane decisions? Or do you think that in any organisation the minority in a vote should always be free to ignore a majority decision? That would be a recipe for chaos, for unorganised action. If so, the saying stratch an anarchist and you'll find they're not in favour of organisation will be true.

Quote:
Moreover, when a majority at a mass meeting decides to stop a strike, that does not mean it's the right thing to do and that radical minorities should not oppose this and try to escalate the struggle.

If you want my view, if a majority vote to end a strike then the strike should end (just as if a majority vote to continue the strike it should continue). How else could a strike be under the democratic control of the strikers? Isn't that what workers self-organisation is all about, not "radical minorities" (vanguards?) having the right to act in what they consider the best interest of the workers?

LBird
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Jan 31 2012 10:59
Auld-bod wrote:
On the larger question of majority decision making post revolution, presumably proper consideration will be made to accommodate minority opinions. This is basic self-interest as at some time we could all find ourselves in a minority position. Therefore before decisions were arrived at provision would be made for dissenters.

Presumably, what we are all talking about here is 'democracy' post-revolution, not the non-democracy of our present society. As such, Auld-bod is spot on about minorities, of which we'll all be a part of, at some point.

no.25 wrote:
If one happened to disagree with whatever rules were democratically agreed upon in a specific commune, they could always relocate to one which is more suited to their inclinations, although I'm sure we'll have international laws.

Yeah, clearly given human development, there will be some sort of notion of a 'world-commune', which embodies decision-making that affects the entire human race.

no.25 wrote:
Sometimes, I think we tend to presume that all directly democratic decisions would take place within reason, but that's highly doubtful, and somewhat utopian. For example: the Shreveport, Louisiana Commune may decide to outlaw abortion. Unless there's an article in a regional, 'national,' or international constitution prohibiting a ban on abortion, what could you do but relocate? What if the international community decides to ban abortion through a majority based decision? Then what? Hypothetical of course, and maybe even unrealistic, but you can't deny that it's a possibility.

Yeah, there will be some practises which will be abhorrent to the vast majority, and which will be prohibited, and some universal human rights which we will enforce by our 'world-commune'.

Whether the 'right to abortion' will be seen as a universal right (I, for example, would vote for it to be a right everywhere on this planet), and whether clitorodectomy on small girls will be allowed because a lower-level commune tries to introduce it (I would vote to override this commune's wishes), the issues of 'democratic authority' and 'minority rights' must be discussed, not just ignored as irrelevent, as some 'individual Anarchists' seem to want to do.

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Jan 31 2012 11:17
capricorn wrote:
It's all coming out now, confirming my suspicion that anarchists are not really in favour of democratic decision-making. Another reason for opposing them.

It's all become clear now... this is your typical anarchist...

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Fall Back
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Jan 31 2012 11:18

The logic of demanding an NUM call a ballot in '84-85. That's where capricorn's politics leave you.

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Serge Forward
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Jan 31 2012 11:44

Or.. 'an injury to 51% is an injury to all.'

Jordan
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Jan 31 2012 13:04
Serge Forward wrote:
Or.. 'an injury to 51% is an injury to all.'

Funny, but it's more accurate to frame it negatively 'an injury to the 49% is an injury to noone!"

Edit: And I agree, we have a prima facie duty to follow the decisions of the directly democratic community that we voluntary choose to join. This prima facie duty is overrided however if by following the decision we would create a greater harm than by not following it.

LBird
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Jan 31 2012 13:28
Jordan wrote:
And I agree, we have a prima facie duty to follow the decisions of the directly democratic community that we voluntary choose to join.

The problem with this formulation, Jordan, is it avoids considerations of the 'community' of which none of us 'chose voluntarily to join': that is, 'the human race'.

In some sense, we are in this community, whether we like it or not, and it's better that we expose and discuss the various senses in which it is true.

Once we have brought about Communism on a world scale, don't also "we have a prima facie duty to follow the decisions of the directly democratic community" of which we are involuntary members?

Angelus Novus
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Jan 31 2012 13:45
Railyon wrote:
Novus, I don't quite understand what we're arguing about here.

I don't think we're arguing (at least not yet), but I'm trying to clarify terms (I know that seems pedantic and grating, I'm not doing it to be a dick, honest).

Quote:
- That all contemporary tendencies of the left support the self-organization of the proletariat in theory, therefore there is little difference between them

No, or at least, I think the very term "self-organization" is just kind of empty. When people speak of self-organization in that sense, more often than not it's merely just advocacy for one specific form of organization. Why are people organized in labor unions any less "self-organized" than people in councils? Why are people in parties not "self-organized"? Hell, I'd argue the worst "Bolshevized" cadre groups are about as self-organized as any organization can be: they demand extreme levels of activity and initiative by members, if that's not self-organized then I don't know what is.

And I mean, complexity theorists tend to speak of much of the natural and social world in terms of being "self-organizing systems", even the exploitative and hierarchical social systems that you and I oppose, so honestly, I think "self-organization" is just empty rhetoric.

Quote:
- That "we" (whoever that is) think individual liberty is actually not important in defining the two poles

Well, I hope that's not the case. Like I said, the aspect of the anarchist tradition I find most sympathetic is precisely the insistence upon maintaining the autonomy of the individual that arises in bourgeois societies, rather than seeing it as a pathology to be transcended.

But from this thread, I just see a lot of folks saying that the primary difference between "libertarian" and "authoritarian" socialisms is primarily one of organizational forms.

Instead, I think people should be more focused on what is the content of revolution. And here I find myself in agreement on the one hand with the "communization" schools (loosely defined as Endnotes/Troploin/Aufheben and the various permutations of German value-form theory) that understand communism as the abolition of the commodity form and value. On the other hand, I think the classical anarchist insistence upon the rights of the individual are a necessary supplement to this.

But a lot of folks on this thread seem to fetishize democratic decision making process and things like that, as if that constitutes the substance of communism. Here I agree with the points made by Birthday Pony and Jura about the rights of minorities.

Angelus Novus
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Jan 31 2012 13:47
Jordan wrote:
Edit: And I agree, we have a prima facie duty to follow the decisions of the directly democratic community that we voluntary choose to join.

You know, every bourgeois democratic state on the planet justifies itself in these terms. Why is that any less legitimate than your hypothetical council majority?

LBird
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Jan 31 2012 13:54
Jordan wrote:
This prima facie duty is overrided however if by following the decision we would create a greater harm than by not following it.

This doesn't solve the problem, Jordan. Who or what defines 'a greater harm'? Individual conscience or democratic discussion, debate and decision-making?

Angelus Novus wrote:
But a lot of folks on this thread seem to fetishize democratic decision making process and things like that, as if that constitutes the substance of communism.

Doesn't it at least constitute part of "the substance of communism"?

Angelus Novus wrote:
Here I agree with the points made by Birthday Pony and Jura about the rights of minorities.

Are they making points about the 'rights of minorities' (a collective term) or the 'rights of individuals' (in some way connected to 'individualism')?

I agree with both these categories having 'rights' (after all, I'm a member of both), but those 'rights' can only be assigned by the wider democratic Communist collective (of which I will, too, be a member).

capricorn
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Jan 31 2012 13:56

I can understand why people can regard bourgeois political democracy as a sham. What I can't understand is why some reject democratic decision-making within working class organisations and struggles. If you reject it for this, how do they favour decisions being made? How for instance are decisions made within organisations grouping "radical minorities" (of which some are presumably members)? By some leader or leadership, formal or informal?

Spikymike
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Jan 31 2012 14:25

So yes ''It's all comming out now'' as Capricorn reveals his spgb fetishisation of 'democracy' in it's worst abstract and 'majoritarian' aspects completely ignoring the realites of how class struggle tends to develop in practice through a series of ever larger minority actions.

It reduces struggle to the formalities of sectional constituences within the class and any social movement towards communism to an abstract battle of ideas.

I have had this argument out with spgber's, some less dogmatic than capricorn, on other threads and despair at it's resurection here.

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Jan 31 2012 23:35

I guess my question was a bit misleading, I guess I don't think the early thinkers of council communism saw themselves as libertarian, however I do think they and future groups etc did and have moved in that direction.

A useful quote from Subversion, which still rings true and maybe is more to the point.

Quote:
In opposition to the Left there exists a political movement, consisting of both groups and individuals, some of whom might call themselves Communists, while some might call themselves Anarchists (the Marxist-Anarchist split is an outdated historical division that bears no relationship to the real class line, which cuts across them all it), but who all stand united [b] against the fake radicalism of the Left, and for a genuinely communist alternative
mciver
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Feb 1 2012 01:07

Seized by a fuckingly snappish frenzy, the angelic Novus barks (post 22):

Quote:
Lenin "killed millions"? Where the fuck does this come from? Whatever justified critique can be made of how the Bolsheviks exercised power, this is just nonsense. I don't think even the most backwater American high school would teach something like that.

Of course, from their lofty heights, historical angels can't notice how many humans are actually exterminated on the ground. Like German civilians in firestorms during WW2. But in this case History is not Allied bombers but Lenin's Bolsheviks. Of course he could also be claiming that Lenin, or Stalin for that matter, didn't kill anybody personally, much less thousands or millions. So the fastidious Engel is not being a dick in this case, he's fuckingly correct and not spewing nonsense -- Lenin's 'exercise in power' didn't kill millions, or anybody to be precise, remaining the model saint for left communists and angelic leftists of all wings.

Yet actual historians of Soviet society differ from the Engel, joining the chorus of the 'most backward American high schools'. The Engel probably attended a most advanced one, staffed by progressive American pedagogues with hidden pictures of Lenin and Stalin in their bedrooms.

RJ Rummel gives the high figure of more than 10 million victims by the Lenin/Trotsky régime (Lethal Politics), see http://libcom.org/forums/theory/was-lenin-nationalist-populist-20072011 (post 27)

But that won't deter the Engels, who hang on to the divinisation of Lenin no matter what the historical evidence. With equal disdain, they'll dismiss as bourgeois nonsense the claims of Maximoff, Baynac, Werth, Courtois, Conquest, Solzhenitsyn and countless others, including Paul Mattick's Anti-Bolshevik Communism (esp chapter 4, 'Bolshevism and Stalinism').

A more recent source, focusing on the millions of victims not slaughtered by the Cheka's Einsatzgruppen and Red Army in their usual ways (fumigations with poison gas, as well as the usual artillery shelling of villages and mass shootings):

Quote:
Can Lenin and his associates be held morally culpable for the deaths of these millions of famine victims [the Russian famine of 1921]? If the famine were a natural catastrophe, this would be unreasonable. But the famine was largely man-made, the result of draconian price controls and requisitioning. Most of the evidence is that Lenin and his associates knew the probable results of their agricultural policies, but were willing to take the risk: according to Pipes, Lenin repeatedly said that he would sooner the whole nation die of hunger than allow free trade in grain. In short, Lenin and his comrades knew with substantial certainty that their policies would cause widespread death from starvation. Under any sensible definition of murder, this makes Lenin the murderer of millions.

http://econfaculty.gmu.edu/bcaplan/museum/his1g.htm

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Feb 1 2012 01:15
LBird wrote:
Auld-bod wrote:
On the larger question of majority decision making post revolution, presumably proper consideration will be made to accommodate minority opinions. This is basic self-interest as at some time we could all find ourselves in a minority position. Therefore before decisions were arrived at provision would be made for dissenters.

Presumably, what we are all talking about here is 'democracy' post-revolution, not the non-democracy of our present society. As such, Auld-bod is spot on about minorities, of which we'll all be a part of, at some point.

no.25 wrote:
If one happened to disagree with whatever rules were democratically agreed upon in a specific commune, they could always relocate to one which is more suited to their inclinations, although I'm sure we'll have international laws.

Yeah, clearly given human development, there will be some sort of notion of a 'world-commune', which embodies decision-making that affects the entire human race.

no.25 wrote:
Sometimes, I think we tend to presume that all directly democratic decisions would take place within reason, but that's highly doubtful, and somewhat utopian. For example: the Shreveport, Louisiana Commune may decide to outlaw abortion. Unless there's an article in a regional, 'national,' or international constitution prohibiting a ban on abortion, what could you do but relocate? What if the international community decides to ban abortion through a majority based decision? Then what? Hypothetical of course, and maybe even unrealistic, but you can't deny that it's a possibility.

Yeah, there will be some practises which will be abhorrent to the vast majority, and which will be prohibited, and some universal human rights which we will enforce by our 'world-commune'.

Whether the 'right to abortion' will be seen as a universal right (I, for example, would vote for it to be a right everywhere on this planet), and whether clitorodectomy on small girls will be allowed because a lower-level commune tries to introduce it (I would vote to override this commune's wishes), the issues of 'democratic authority' and 'minority rights' must be discussed, not just ignored as irrelevent, as some 'individual Anarchists' seem to want to do.

Yeah, the great thing about Direct Democracy is that it allow for a platform in which the majority and minority can debate issues, but obviously the outcome will not always be favorable to the minority. In some instances, this wouldn't necessarily be negative. I'd agree with your response in its entirety.

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Feb 1 2012 04:50
Quote:
A more recent source, focusing on the millions of victims not slaughtered by the Cheka's Einsatzgruppen and Red Army in their usual ways (fumigations with poison gas, as well as the usual artillery shelling of villages and mass shootings):

To compare the checka and red army to the Einsatzgruppen is historical revisionism- it is an analogy that just goes too far. It is similar to those on the neo-Nazi and far-far-right who hang the Black Book Of Communism as a bible to throw out there; that Lenin and Stalin and Mao 'killed' more people than the axis/Hitler. Your analogy is going way overboard; similar to those same neo-Nazis and right-wing extremists who use the Holodomor as a billyclub against any and all criticism of Holocaust denial.

The facts on the ground in the early years after October were FUBAR. In the UE backed and published book 'Labors Untold Story' a preacher is quoted as saying that at that time, the Russian Revolution and the few years after it, most working people believed that they had finally made a step towards socialism; that the Soviet government was their government, no matter what country they resided in. Fear of counter-revolution, the Tsarist/monarchist/White armies and the dozen imperialist powers involved in military operations and a total blockade, the complete mess of the regional economy, high illiteracy rates, increasingly desperate and centralizing tendencies and over confidence in the coming Western proletarian revolution, Kautskyian and Second International ideology within the Bolshevik Party, the gutting of the soviets, Statism- Red Thermidor.

There were plenty of options besides those taken by the Sovnarkom/VTSiK/RCP(b)/Lenin/Trotsky in every aspect of the revolutionary process. But the massive flight from the cities, starvation rations, and every other circumstance and decision leading to worse circumstances including those outside the control of the workers, the peasants, the Bolsheviks, the centralized bureaucracy made the authoritarian "Old Bolsheviks" fearful of Thermidor and rightly so. Lenin and his influence did become the gravedigger of the revolution of the workers and peasants; but to compare a man-made famine to the extermination of ethnic groups, religious communities, racial minorities, etc is ridiculous.

Compare Lenin's quote with:

Quote:
Hitler's Scorched Earth Policy in Ukraine

The Commander of the German Army Group South issued a "Top Secret" Memorandum on December 22, 1941 to all combat commanders in Ukraine:

"The following concept of the Fuehrer [Hitler] is to be made known ... to all commanders ... "

"Each area that has to be abandoned to the enemy must be made completely unfit for his use. Regardless of its inhabitants every locality must be burned down and destroyed to deprive the enemy of accomodation facilities ... the localities left intact have to be subsequently ruined by the air force." (Kondufor, History Teaches a Lesson, Kiev: 1986, Document no. 119, p. 172)

In many Ukrainian villages the German army ordered all the people into the church and set fire to it. Himmler on September 7, 1943 ordered SS-Obergruppenfuehrer Prutzmann "to leave behind in Ukraine not a single person, no cattle, not a ton of grain, not a railroad track ... The enemy must find a country totally burned and destroyed." (Bezymenski p. 38,; Dallin p. 364). The German Army was ordered to leave complete destruction in its wake so again 18,414 miles of railroads were ripped up, mines were flooded, industries that the Soviets missed were dynamited, wells were poisoned, and over two million houses and buildings were burned and destroyed.

Not to mention the widely known Goering quote that every Ukrainian male over the age of 15 should be shot (so it would be easier to make room for German racial expansion into their lebensraum).

And now comes the accusation of being a Leninist for not agreeing that the man-made famines of the Leninist and quasi-Leninist regimes (PRC, USSR, DPRK, etc) is no where equal to the policies of racial extermination and the razing of a peoples and their civilization.

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Feb 1 2012 06:23
LBird wrote:
*I think I have a lot in common with 'class-struggle Anarchists', though, and could imagine myself joining one of their organisations.

Unfortunately class struggle organizations end up chalk full of "individualists" like me. I think the Worker's World Party might be a good spot for you.

Everyone,
there's a difference between a minority acting independently (not as spokespeople for, or representatives of) an organization and acting as vanguards. We all agree that a radical minority acting on what they deem to be in the interest of others is shitty, and I don't think anyone here is suggesting otherwise. For the strike example, a minority that wildcats does so on their own terms, and not as the union. At least, I support their ability to do so.

Second, there needs to be something a little more specific about what folks mean when they say democracy, and the main tension is, I think, over what exactly people mean by democracy. Obviously, it's a contradiction in terms to write an example such as:

What if a body democratically votes with 51% to enslave a 10% minority?

Such a question negates the very essence of what we mean by democracy (rule by the masses). However, it's not an improbable idea. Those on this thread claiming that anarchists are "anti-democratic" have not really outlined a premise for democracy outside of a process, and if we go strictly by that process then the question above does not become ridiculous.

It is my contention that democracy is as close as we have to ideal, but also not enough. To really ensure that an authoritarian society isn't recreated there must be a cultural shift. Dissent must be openly accepted, discussed, and encouraged (one of the reasons I am very much for democracy, even though LBird is convinced I'm Nietzsche in disguise).

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Feb 1 2012 06:33

And for a more mundane hypothetical (because the slavery one is over the top) say some group is deciding on a clean up day for some shared space. Everyone's leaning towards Tuesdays, but 5% don't like working on Tuesdays or can't make it. Still, the resolution passes and then Tuesday comes along. How do you bind that 5% to the resolution? That's really a better ethical question, perhaps.

My opinion is this: who gives a shit? So a few dudes didn't make it. That doesn't stop me, and it doesn't deeply hurt me that they don't feel as strongly about when we should clean up. When it becomes a recurring problem, let their relationship to the group be reconsidered. Until then, no me importa.

capricorn
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Feb 1 2012 06:38
no.25 wrote:
Yeah, the great thing about Direct Democracy is that it allow for a platform in which the majority and minority can debate issues, but obviously the outcome will not always be favorable to the minority. In some instances, this wouldn't necessarily be negative.

I agree with this, but I think it is better to speak of "Participatory" or "Delegate" democracy rather than "Direct" democracy as this last could imply that all decisions have to be made by general assemblies or town meetings, which is impractical.

As Pannekoek put it in Workers Councils (on this site here):

Quote:
Given the impossibility to collect the workers of all the factories into one meeting, they can only express their will by means of delegates. For such bodies of delegates in later times the name of workers' councils has come into use. Every collaborating group of personnel designates the members who in the council assemblies have to express its opinion and its wishes. These took an active part themselves in the deliberations of this group, they came to the front as able defenders of the views that carried the majority. Now they are sent as the spokesmen of the group to confront these views with those of other groups in order to come to a collective decision.

The dreaded Parecon group have drawn up a blueprint as to how a Participatory Democracy might work, including a suggestion about how to prevent a majority decision infringing on the rights of minorities and individuals. It makes rather more sense than their other blueprint for a "participatory economy".

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Feb 1 2012 08:19
capricorn wrote:
I agree with this, but I think it is better to speak of "Participatory" or "Delegate" democracy rather than "Direct" democracy as this last could imply that all decisions have to be made by general assemblies or town meetings, which is impractical.

The dreaded Parecon group have drawn up a blueprint as to how a Participatory Democracy might work, including a suggestion about how to prevent a majority decision infringing on the rights of minorities and individuals. It makes rather more sense than their other blueprint for a "participatory economy".

I would have thought that most people would associate delegation with Direct Democracy, an entire industry cant assemble in one location, can you imagine the chaos?

I wouldn't take issue with that, if any decisions made by said delegate were reversible, if not congruent with whatever decisions were made in the base assembly. Not so much different from what I stated before. Still, modern technology allows for the facilitation of instant communication, with which the delegate can consult the assembly on an urgent decision.

Thanks for the Parecon link, I'll check it out.

Edit: Great to see an instant criticism of Lenin.

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laborbund
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Feb 2 2012 20:27

I'm late to the game here, and a lot has already been said. This thread has gone in a totally different direction than I had imagined when I read the title. I guess I was hoping for more of a discussion on:

What major theoretical/organizational similarities do Council Communists and Class Struggle Anarchists (really just Anarchists, but the abuse of the term here in the US makes me want to clarify this all the time) share that would allow them to work together?

What major theoretical/organizational differences might prevent them from working together?

I think there might have been a time when those who would become the CCs were hopeful about the Russian Revolution, just like Emma Goldman was at one point, but as the nature of Bolshevism became clearer to them, the CC critique came to center on the Bolsheviks' repression of the organs of working class self-government. I think a certain affinity for Anarchism is implicit - if not actually stated - in that critique. In other words I think the critique is a "libertarian" one even if that isn't explicitly stated.

Paul Mattick had some pretty nasty shit to say about the CNT, but mostly because he thought they had capitulated to the Leninists: http://www.marxists.org/archive/mattick-paul/1937/spain.htm.
He was a member of the IWW for a time.

Pannekoek admired the IWW as an organization which had absorbed the lessons what led labor unions to reformism, and which was, he thought, an "intermediate form" of organization between a labor union and a system of councils (that can be found here under the "Direct Action" heading.

While the IWW was never explicitly Anarchist or "libertarian" it had rejected Bolshevism, and party politics before the time that Mattick and Pannekoek became familiar with it. The IWW's internal culture and structure of direct/participatory/delegate/whatever democracy and civil liberties had also been well established.

Pannekoek also outlined various aspects of a council system which I think could be construed as "libertarian":

Quote:
Complete democracy is realized here by the equal rights of everyone who takes part in the work. Of course, whoever stands outside the work does not have a voice in its regulation. It cannot be deemed a lack of democracy that in this world of self-rule of the collaborating groups all that have no concern with the work -- such as remained in plenty from capitalism: exploiters, parasites, rentiers -- do not take part in the decisions.... What enforces the accomplishment of the decisions of the councils is their moral authority. But moral authority in such a society has a more stringent power than any command or constraint from a government.

the emphasis is my own. http://libcom.org/library/workers-councils-1-pannekoek

He also sees the expansion of civil liberties as part of the working class struggle in the 19th century and goes on to say:

Quote:
For us it is owing to its necessity for the liberation of the working class that freedom of speech and press is proclaimed. To restrict the freedom of discussion is to prevent the workers from acquiring the knowledge they need.

http://libcom.org/library/workers-councils-2-pannekoek

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Feb 2 2012 22:15

accidentally re-posted, sorry

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Feb 2 2012 23:53

@capricorn and other libertarian-sceptics. So if the majority decide to ban homosexuality, there's no argument to be had there?

This question has form within the official communist movement. Years ago I knew a local activist in his 70s who'd been a loyal Communist Party member all his life. Which unfortunately for him, meant that he'd had to spend over 40 years in the closet because the "official communist movement" dismissed homosexuality as a "bourgeois deviation". I don't see how your line on proletarian democracy differs from that old Stalinist line.