Councilism v. Left Communism

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Mike Harman
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Dec 14 2018 23:23

Here's Bordiga in 1951:

Bordiga wrote:
10. In Europe and America strategical alliance with left bourgeois movements against feudal forms of power is no longer possible and has given way to direct struggle by the proletariat for power. But in underdeveloped countries the rising proletarian and communist parties will not disdain to participate to insurrections of other anti-feudal classes, either against local despotic dominations or against the white colonisers.

https://www.marxists.org/archive/bordiga/works/1951/charthes.htm

Or Programma Communista in 1958:

Programma Communista wrote:
To the extent to which it will develop, the Afro-Asian industrial revolution will necessarily engender, as a social consequence of the expansion of the capitalist mode of production, a society divided into antagonistic social classes. Each of them will necessarily take a different attitude towards the revolutionary communist movement, and will participate in it in different ways. It is therefore clear that the future International will have at its disposal a revolutionary potential formed by a new industrial proletariat which, today, hardly exists – but it is also evident that it will have to enter into a struggle against the alignment of bourgeois forces whose emergence and development has until now been prevented by colonial domination and which, today, are strengthening within the new nation states.

On the global level, the anti-colonialist revolution is thus destined to increase, simultaneously, both the forces of the proletarian revolution and those of the bourgeois counter-revolution. This perspective is perfectly in accord with the notion of the final collapse of capitalism, which we defend.

[...]
If colonialist domination had been maintained, the communist revolution would have found itself, in Africa and in Asia, confronted with a “Russian situation”, similar to the one that the dictatorship of the proletariat confronted in the ex-Russia of the Tsars – or rather, even further behind under social and economic aspects. Therefore, if a communist power had succeeded in bringing down colonialism, it would have found itself in the impossible situation, precisely as in Russia, of translating into practice the fundamental points of the communist programme relating to the suppression of the capitalist relations of production. We would have had, sticking with the same hypothesis, a new case of a communist revolution which succeeds in seizing power from the dominant classes but is unable to use this power to start the transformation of the economy in a communist direction, and which has to wait, in order to accomplish this, for the proletarian victory in the more developed capitalist states.

A clarification is needed to the above. To avoid any ambivalence, we should restate our immutable positions on the international character of communism. Marxists struggle for revolution and push it forwards everywhere it breaks out; but they know very well that the final victory of socialism will only be achieved after the revolution has triumphed across the entire globe, or at least in the most important capitalist counties. What we want to show here is that it is only in countries where capitalism is developed that the proletarian revolution can move forward expeditiously, immediately tackling the phase of economic transformation after the conquest of political power.

The upheavals currently taking place in Africa and Asia will finally have the effect of destroying this “Russian situation” against which the communist revolution would have collided in the colonialist era. After the decline of colonialism and the creation of new modern states, the conquest of power by the communist movement will become more difficult. Indeed, the new independent states will be able to use a prestige and a political ascendancy over their subjects – and therefore material force – which was not available to colonial bureaucracies. But in order to sustain themselves in the long term, these states will have to stimulate industrialisation at a frenetic rate, that’s to say dismantle the residues of the old semi-feudal regime and introduce, and then enlarge, capitalist forms of production. To put it another way, the ex-colonies constitute a gap between capitalism and the historical conditions which precede socialism; the new national states will be forced to fill this gap. Once this has been done, the communist revolution in Africa and in Asia will find itself confronted with a “European situation”, i.e., the conditions reached by the countries where the capitalist transformation of the economy is a fait accompli.

http://www.international-communist-party.org/English/REPORTS/57ColQue.htm

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Dec 14 2018 23:32

Do you really think this is the same as pan-Africanism or support for Castro?

Mike Harman
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Dec 14 2018 23:37
jura wrote:
Obviously there are similiarities (the union question) that I've mentioned myself, but not on the question of nationalism/anti-imperialism. What Pannekoek is saying in that quote is that if capitalism develops in the colonies, the working class will also develop that could be an ally to the working class in the West (or North). I guess any marxist would agree with that.

This is an issue though - whether the plantation system in the US South, and to some extent in African, Caribbean, and South American colonies, was capitalist. What they really mean isn't capitalism, but industrialisation. And possibly a shift from forced labour to wage labour - although capitalism was only able to develop in the colonies via forced labour and land expropriation, enforced by capitalist states, in the first place. Covered some of these issues a bit here: https://libcom.org/blog/dauve-versus-marx-31072018

jura wrote:
It's rather trivial, and quite different from rooting for Fidel Castro, as James did.

They're quite clearly rooting for the national bourgeois to develop (industrial) capitalism against imperialist underdevelopment, because it would lead to the development of a local working class, if not for specific national ruling classes.

I haven't read James on Castro, but there's a summary here for anyone following along, and I'll maybe try to read it tomorrow: http://insurgentnotes.com/2016/04/c-l-r-jamess-critical-support-of-fidel-castros-cuba/

Mike Harman
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Dec 14 2018 23:42
jura wrote:
Do you really think this is the same as pan-Africanism or support for Castro?

No. I do think there are some similar theoretical routes though, which go back to Lenin and a stagist conception of the transition to communism - which again the Matthew Quest essay gets into.

edit: I'll try to put it more clearly.

CLR James, implicitly - because he tends to write about concrete events and extrapolate, but often one thing at a time, so you have to figure out the contradiction yourself:

In Western Europe and Eastern Europe, workers autonomy is everything, the party has no role except to produce a workers paper and some theory. Rejection of the unions and parliamentarianism.

In the Caribbean and Africa - 'critical support' for left nationalist movements. Sometimes more support, sometimes more critical. If he said why he would advocate two different strategies in the different areas I haven't seen it, but I would assume a reference to Lenin and 'historical conditions' to justify that stance.

With Bordiga and Programma Communista passages explicitly, because concrete events are largely ignored, focusing on general trends:

the third world can only produce bourgeois revolutions because of its stage of development, but that these bourgeois revolutions will accelerate local capitalist development and hence the creation of a local working class, which can then fight capital on the same terms as the western working class.

With Pannekoek, we have more of a 'political' take on anti-colonialism where he thinks that not only economic development but liberal democracy is necessary to give the working class freedom to organise etc.

Are they the same positions? No they're not. Are they compatible positions with some similar theoretical routes - yes I think they are, or at least there's a venn diagram with some overlap.

What none of the three are arguing for is that a communist revolution would be possible in the Third World - at least not unless it first happened in Western Europe then was somehow exported. There are significant moments of class struggle which none of the three ever addressed at the time (probably because news of them never even made it out of the colonies where they occurred) which is a shame. I think James' own work on Haiti partially attacks the position as well, but not completely because he was such a massive Trotskyist when he wrote it, but the information is in there if not quite the realisation.

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Dec 14 2018 23:50

Tthe problem you allude to stretches back to Marx, who had his own stagism to overcome, very late in his life. I agree that both the JFT and the left communists were marxists, and Lenin certainly was an important point of reference (though a negative one, in the case of the Duch-German left). But I see no point in calling the JFT left communists or council communists. They came from different historical traditions (the branching occurs around 1914-1918) and held different positions on a variety of things. They had certain key things in common which I guess is why they're featured in the libcom library (and not just "for reference")... as are many other currents.

Mike Harman
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Dec 15 2018 00:00
jura wrote:
They had certain key things in common which I guess is why they're featured in the libcom library (and not just "for reference")... as are many other currents.

They're one of my favourite groups of people to read - i.e. when I read stuff by James or Glaberman and disagree with it, I still learn something and enjoy it, whereas I often read stuff by people I supposedly 'agree' with and just get completely annoyed and demoralised. For example when Glaberman talks about unions, he manages to avoid the conspiracist 'tool of the capitalist state' framing that a lot of groups fall into, but still manages to completely explain what their role is.

PS. edited the post just above yours to expand a bit, but apparently not quick enough.

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Dec 15 2018 00:06

Yep, I like them too, and especially Glaberman.

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Dec 15 2018 14:39
Reddebrek wrote:
slothjabber wrote:
Communisation isn't Left Communism.

Personally I'd agree but I've seen more than a few Left Coms that overlap it a lot with what their doing.

Why don't you see communisation as left communist? Obviously both terms are pretty slippery, but I think it's fair to say that Dauve, Troploin are pretty openly influenced by/have actually republished Bordgia, Bilan and so on.

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Dec 15 2018 20:22

But Dauve/Troploin have an extensive critique of Lenin, Trotskyism & Bolshevism quite opposite to left communism positions today. They also have more theoretical sympathy with anarchism & with the situationists than left communists. They also share no theoretical conception of the essential existence of an organisational Party form with left comms.

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Dec 15 2018 22:35

Among other things, Left Communism accepts the need for the Party and that October 1917 was a genuine proletarian revolution.

Both council communism and communisation (depending on the theorists) reject these, so are not left communism.

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Dec 16 2018 08:41
Craftwork wrote:
Among other things, Left Communism accepts the need for the Party and that October 1917 was a genuine proletarian revolution.

Both council communism and communisation (depending on the theorists) reject these, so are not left communism.

Only according to your idiosyncretic definition of "left communism". According to standard usage, the Dutch-German left is part of "left communism"/"the communist left".

slothjabber
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Dec 16 2018 11:42

Left Communism includes Council Communism but Council Communism doesn't include Left Communism. No-one would call the Bordigists 'Council Communists'.

However, Council Communism's positions morphed away from the positions of 'The Communist Left' in 1920 (Bordiga's didn't change much, what with invariance and all. Joke, I know that's not really what invariance is).

As what is now known as 'Council Communism' is both a subset of a wider (historical) category of Left Communism, and significantly different from other subsets of Left Communism (differentiated on the questions of the party and the nature of the October revolution) which otherwise, between themselves are relatively coherent, I think it makes sense to see 'Council Communism' as a split from 'Left Communism'. Maybe up until 1940 Left Communism meant the Italian and German Lefts. I'd think that post-WWII, it makes sense to regard Council Communism as a separate but related thing to Left Communism (the Left Communism that continued to hold pretty much the 1920 positions).

So I'm going to say that I don't see Craftwork's use as being idiosyncratic, because it's pretty much how I see it and generally use the terms too.

Of course, that might just mean that we use the terms the way the ICC does (for example) not the way everyone else does. But I don't really think there's any argument against the idea that Council Communism represents a break with the positions of 1920 (in Italy and Germany in particular) but the groups of the Communist Left today represent a large element of continuity with the positions of 1920.

I wouldn't say that Council Communism was not part of the Communist Left, in a historical sense, but 'Council Communists' now are not 'Left Communists' now.

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Dec 16 2018 21:58
jura wrote:
Craftwork wrote:
Among other things, Left Communism accepts the need for the Party and that October 1917 was a genuine proletarian revolution.

Both council communism and communisation (depending on the theorists) reject these, so are not left communism.

Only according to your idiosyncretic definition of "left communism". According to standard usage, the Dutch-German left is part of "left communism"/"the communist left".

Err.. Council communism is not synonymous with Dutch-German Left.

Philippe Bourrinet, The Dutch and German Communist Left (1900–68) wrote:
"In the text I have taken care to distinguish the terms ‘left-communism’ and ‘council-communism’. German and Dutch left-communism in the 1920s situated itself on the terrain of the Russian Revolution, until September 1921 within the Communist International, and recognised the necessity of an international party. The term ‘councilism’ can be used only with caution to define the current represented by Rühle and the gic, which rejected the Russian Revolution as ‘bourgeois’ and were opposed to the existence of any party amongst the proletariat."
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Dec 16 2018 21:43
Philippe Bourrinet, The Dutch and German Communist Left (1900–68) wrote:
"In the text I have taken care to distinguish the terms ‘left-communism’ and ‘council-communism’. German and Dutch left-communism in the 1920s situated itself on the terrain of the Russian Revolution, until September 1921 within the Communist International, and recognised the necessity of an international party. The term ‘councilism’ can be used only with caution to define the current represented by Rühle and the gic, which rejected the Russian Revolution as ‘bourgeois’ and were opposed to the existence of any party amongst the proletariat."

Why would you think this supports your case? He even uses the expression "German and Dutch left-communism". He then goes on to say that another term, "councilism" can be used to denote a smaller circle of people who (later) went on to oppose the party-form as such. But "councilism" is not the same as "German and Dutch left-communism". It's a subset (in terms of the people involved) and a later development.

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Dec 16 2018 21:59
jura wrote:
Why would you think this supports your case? He even uses the expression "German and Dutch left-communism". He then goes on to say that another term, "councilism" can be used to denote a smaller circle of people who (later) went on to oppose the party-form as such. But "councilism" is not the same as "German and Dutch left-communism". It's a subset (in terms of the people involved) and a later development.

Edited my previous comment for clarity. Council communism =/= Left Communism.

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Dec 17 2018 06:31

Zinoviev at the 2nd Congress:

Zinoviev wrote:
The declaration by the ‘left’ Communist Workers’ Party of Germany (KAPD) at its founding conference in April that it is founding a party, but ‘not a party in the traditional sense’ means an ideological capitulation to those views of syndicalism and industrialism that are reactionary.

...

The rise of the soviets as the basic historical form of the dictatorship by no means decreases the leading role of the Communist Party in the proletarian revolution. If the ‘left’ Communists of Germany (cf. their appeal to the German proletariat of April 14, 1920 signed ‘Communist Workers’ Party of Germany') declare: ‘That the Party too adapts more and more to the idea of Soviets, and takes on a proletarian character’ (Kommunistische Arbeiterzeitung, no. 54), then this is a confused expression of the idea that the Communist Party must dissolve itself into the soviets, that the soviets can replace the Communist Party.

This idea is fundamentally false and reactionary.

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Dec 17 2018 14:47

Why are you quoting zinoviev of all people? He puts the left in quotation marks.

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Dec 17 2018 15:16
LeninistGirl wrote:
Why are you quoting zinoviev of all people? He puts the left in quotation marks.

Because the term basically originated as a slur by the likes of Zinoviev.

Edited for clarity: What I'm saying is that the "the communist left"or "left communism" is something that originated in the debates around the founding of the IIIrd International. There were some precursors, of course: the Russian "left communist" faction of 1918, the earlier views of the Tribunists that later translated into some of the council communist positions, etc. But the meaning of the term became established in those debates and in Lenin's brochure, which was a part of those debates (it was written in April 1920; the 2nd Congress took place during the summer of that year).

The participants in those discussions had certain criteria according to which classify communists as "left communists". Whatever those criteria were, the German-Dutch lefts were to be included as "left communists" based on them, as shown in the Zinoviev quote. Of course there were differences between the Italians and the Dutch-Germans (and even within each of the camps), but in the context of those debates, they were treated simply as "left communists". The bit from Zinoviev also makes it clear that some of the later positions of "council communism" were already present at that time (i.e. not a party in the "traditional sense", and evidently not in the Bolshevik sense either; soviets or councils as the focus; the working class organized primarily in the councils, not in a party etc.).

Mike Harman
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Dec 17 2018 18:12

Yeah if I had the energy I'd draw a venn diagram, but something like this:

Left communism - all the groups/people in 1920 referred to as 'left communist' as a slur by Zinoviev/Lenin.

Council communism - a tendency within 'left communism/the communist left'.

Pro-party left communism - mainly in Italy around Bordiga, sometimes referred to as Bordigism or 'the Italian fraction of the communist left'. Bilan and Camatte too.

Then there are some groups heavily influenced by council communism - the Solidarity/Socialism ou Barbarie/Correspondence/Facing Reality milieu - who equally came out of a break with Trotskyism during WWII, but both ended up making links with older council communists and coming to similar conclusions independently.

The situs which partly came out of a split in SouB.

Then groups influenced by Bordiga - Dauve and the communisation tendency, but who are also influenced by council communist groups too.

And Operaismo which was influenced by the post-war-post-trots (especially things like workers inquiry) as well as having other theoretical/organisational routes.

No-one's linked to https://libcom.org/library/libertarian-marxist-tendency-map yet.

For the tendencies that emerged post-war, they obviously did not emerge strictly from either council communism or Bordigism - but equally there's a lot of influence and some historical continuity.

The big issue here is that there can be multiple historical routes to very similar political positions, as well as similar historical routes to different political positions. I think talking about the historical development of ideology is really interesting, but this exclusivism around labels is... not interesting.

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Dec 17 2018 19:05

Yeah I can get behind that smile.

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Dec 17 2018 22:22

But why call it "libertarian" Marxism like that map does? It is also missing Kautsky since neither Lenin nor Luxemburg came from Marx and Engels directly without being influenced by the Second International and it's head therotican.

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Dec 18 2018 11:29

Also, does anyone know anything about this?

"After 1925, sections of the Council Communist movement worked together with the anarchists in ‘anti-authoritarian blocs’." (From In the Tradition: https://www.anarchistcommunism.org/2017/11/14/in-the-tradition-where-our-politics-comes-from/ )

Any idea what they did, if there's anything written about them, etc?

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Dec 18 2018 12:26

I guess what they mean is the General Worker's Union of Germany (AAU), an organization affiliated to the KAPD. It was somewhat similar to the IWW. In 1921, it was divided into two tendencies, the Essen one (around Ruhle, AAUD-E or AAUE) and the Berlin one (if I remember correctly). The former advocated a "unitary" approach to organizing (a union involved in political and economic struggle). It cooperated somewhat with the FAUD (the anarcho-syndicalists). The AAUE was present at the IWMA/IWA congress of 1923 (as a guest). Many members of the AAUE later joined the FAUD (or vice-versa).

The two tendencies merged again in 1931 into the KAUD (Communist Workers Union of Germany). It disappeared with the Nazi takeover.

You can read about their history here: https://libcom.org/history/councilist-movement-germany-1914-1935-history-aaud-e-tendency-grupo-de-comunistas-de-con

I think Entdinglichung would be able to tell you much more about this.

Edit: Apparently the "Essen" and "Berlin" tendencies relate to a split of the KAPD, not the AAUD. The AAUE was, however, based around a tendency in Essen around Ruhle.

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Dec 18 2018 13:48

Ah OK - was wondering if "anti-authoritarian blocs" was a term used at the time or a later framing, but sounds like the latter in that case.

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Dec 18 2018 14:11

It appears the expression ("Antiautoritärer Block") was in fact used at the time. I've never come across this before. Apparently in some places in Weimar Germany, the FAUD, AAUE, the FKAD (anarcho-communists), entered into closer cooperation in the framework of "blocs". The only sources I could find are in German, though:

https://anarchistischebibliothek.org/library/ulrich-linse-die-transformation-der-gesellschaft-durch-die-anarchistische-weltanschauung.a4.pdf
https://muckracker.wordpress.com/geschichte/nordwest-faud-nordwest-und-der-block-antiautoritarer-revolutionare-1924/

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Dec 18 2018 16:37

The most important splits: The AAUE around Ruehle, Pfemfert, Kanehl and Broh split from KAPD and AAUE in late 1921 due to their rejection of the party-form and their criticism of the March action which they considered “Putschism”; the KAPD split around 1922 between the Berlin wing and the Essen wing on the question about daily labour struggles, the Essen wing around Schwab, Goldstein, Reichenbach, Schroeder, Sach and Utzelmann rejected the participation in non-revolutionary struggles (most of their leading figures with the exception of Sach joined the SPD in the following years and created an entryist current in it which became in 1931 the “Rote Kaempfer”). The AAUE which had its stronghold in Saxony (don’t think that they were particularly strong in Essen) split several times, some currents moving towards anarchism like the Heidenau current (becoming extremely individualistic and rejecting every form of organization) and the two Zwickau currents (the first joining the FAUD and the second publishing up to 1933 the weekly “Proletarischer Zeitgeist”), in 1925, the council communist core of the AAUE split on the question of Adlerian psychology between the minority who supported Ruehle and his Adlerian ideas with centres in Breslau and Frankfurt, these people merged in 1931 with the remains of the AAUD (Berlin current) into the KAUD; the majority around Pfemfert and Kanehl undertook an unsuccessful merger (called Spartakusbund Nr. 2) with a leftwing KPD breakaway group centered in Hannover around the MP Iwan Katz and the local councillor Karwahne (who soon dropped out and later became a Nazi MP) and a small leftwing transport workers union, it disappeared around 1932. Meanwhile, the KAPD (Berlin) suffered another split when they teamed up with another leftwing breakaway group from the KPD around the MP Ernst Schwarz about the question if Schwarz should leave the parliament or not.

There were several attempts in the mid-1920ies to form a block of anti-authoritarian revolutionaries involving FAUD, AAUE, AAUD, FKAD, etc. but in some cases even the reminders of the USPD around Theodor Liebknecht, the “Spartakusbund Nr. 2” was one result of these talks, another initiative which also never materialised of this period was brought forward by the FKAD who wanted to launch a multi-tendency antiauthoritarian daily paper

Mike Harman
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Dec 19 2018 20:13
jura wrote:
Do you really think this is the same as pan-Africanism or support for Castro?

Just to come back on this, Goldner on Bordiga:

https://libcom.org/library/communism-is-the-material-human-community-amadeo-bordiga-today

Goldner wrote:
In Bordiga’s conception, Stalin, and later Mao, Ho, etc. were “great romantic revolutionaries” in the 19th century sense, i.e. bourgeois revolutionaries. He felt that the Stalinist regimes that came into existence after 1945 were just extending the bourgeois revolution, i.e. the expropriation of the Prussian Junker class by the Red Army, through their agrarian policies and through the development of the productive forces. To the theses of the French ultra-left group “Socialism or Barbarism” who denounced the regime, after 1945, as state capitalist, Bordiga replied with an article “Avanti Barbati!” (“Onward Barbarians!”) that hailed the bourgeois revolutionary side of Stalinism as its sole real content.18 (One does not have to agree with Bordiga to acknowledge that this was a more coherent viewpoint than the stupidity of the Trotskyists’ analysis after 1945 that saw the Stalinists in Eastern Europe, China or Indochina as quavering “reformists” eager to sell out to imperialism.)

I don't really see how it could be more compatible with those positions (although I don't think pan-Africanism is a single ideology by any means) to be honest. What do you think?

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Dec 19 2018 20:35
Mike Harman wrote:
I don't really see how it could be more compatible with those positions (although I don't think pan-Africanism is a single ideology by any means) to be honest. What do you think?

I guess you're right with Bordiga. In this respect, he was not entirely representative of the Italian left, though. Onorato Damen opposed national liberation everywhere AFAIK, and I think contemporary left communists such as ICC or IBRP/ICT take more after him (at least in this respect) than Bordiga. I think this was actually one of the reasons for the split in the 50s.

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Dec 21 2018 21:53
Mike Harman wrote:
Just to come back on this, Goldner on Bordiga:

https://libcom.org/library/communism-is-the-material-human-community-amadeo-bordiga-today

If you are interested in Bordiga's positions, it is probably advisable to stick to the texts by the man himself, or to the party literature prior to 1970. The more I read Bordiga, the more I dislike Goldner's article. I wasn't able to locate the quote about "great romantic revolutionaries", and Avanti, Barbari! is not about Stalinism at all, as anyone can see for themselves thanks to the tireless efforts of Libri Incogniti, who earlier this year translated the text into English for the first time. Although the title of the article does make it seem as if Bordiga was taking a jab at Socialisme ou Barbarie, something he was certainly wont to do, that's not the case: Bordiga only makes two mentions of "Chaulieu" (Castoriadis' nom de plume back when he was writing for the journal) in it, one of which is to ridicule him for believing that bureaucracy is a historical novelty unattested in earlier stages of capitalism – not for misunderstanding the "bourgeois revolutionary side" of Stalinism. Similarly, the eponymous "barbarians" are not the Stalinists, as Goldner seems to be implying, but the communists, who strive for a new barbarism that will destroy the capitalist civilization without replacing it with a new one (since Bordiga defined civilization as a class society). On second thought, it's not that surprising that Goldner completely misinterpreted the article, as he probably didn't even read it; he cites a secondary source for the paragraph in question instead of the article itself.

Bordiga was no pan-Africanist or Castro supporter, and the term "left communism" should not be used as an ahistorical catch-all that lumps the 1950s PCInt with the likes of CLR James.

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Dec 22 2018 00:53
AnythingForProximity wrote:
and Avanti, Barbari! is not about Stalinism at all, as anyone can see for themselves thanks to the tireless efforts of Libri Incogniti, who earlier this year translated the text into English for the first time.

You obviously didn't read it, there are long sections explicitly about Stalinism:

Bordiga wrote:
in the economic and in the struggle of social classes), if all this is obvious, then why do some in those at the same time anti-Trumanist and anti-Stalinist groups not see, that if war and oppression are attributed to the intentional evil will of individuals, one makes the same mistake, as if, “in order to explain today’s Russia”, one identifies a third class in a state hierarchy, which, clinging to power and enjoying its delights ever more extensively, is supposed to block our path (from Engels’ booklet) from the level of savagery to communist society by a gigantic and unexpected obstacle?

...

We have only one condition. From all sides, it is declaredly spoken in the name of Marx, so he is not considered “outdated”, although we are separated from his work for about 80 years. Beria[5], who replaced Stalin at the October parade, concluded with a hymn to the great teachings of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin. In the spirit of American propaganda, Acheson’s article distributes the writing of Sir David Kelly, once ambassador of the Labour Party in Moscow, entitled “Karl Marx – defeated by Stalin’s tyranny”.

... [then after some historical diversion]

However, a cardinal mistake is to try to plant on us, after the level of capitalist civilisation that we proclaimed as the last and worst level, a new, unforeseen class civilisation. It is nonsense to search for a third class in order to establish that the state is that of this ruling class – which is not identical to the bourgeoisie – where it itself is supposed to be only the staff of the state, a staff that is not a new figure. We have understood and analysed this through all class struggles and successive state forms.

Another mistake, as we have seen and will see, is the following stepladder: private capitalism – state capitalism – socialism. If this trio were to dominate the stage, the conclusion of the French left’s “bulletin” would be unavoidable: No condemnation and shame, but rather an alliance or support for the second stage – so that state capitalism, whether the Prime Minister is a Hitler or a Stalin, can face us alone as soon as possible.

And it's clear that ICP supported national liberation movements in Africa and Asia as bourgeois revolutions because they would develop industrial capitalism (although Africa mostly did not take this national bonapartist development line and instead ended up with neo-colonial regimes that maintained a more or less plantation economy).

ICP wrote:
The upheavals currently taking place in Africa and Asia will finally have the effect of destroying this “Russian situation” against which the communist revolution would have collided in the colonialist era. After the decline of colonialism and the creation of new modern states, the conquest of power by the communist movement will become more difficult. Indeed, the new independent states will be able to use a prestige and a political ascendancy over their subjects – and therefore material force – which was not available to colonial bureaucracies. But in order to sustain themselves in the long term, these states will have to stimulate industrialisation at a frenetic rate, that’s to say dismantle the residues of the old semi-feudal regime and introduce, and then enlarge, capitalist forms of production. To put it another way, the ex-colonies constitute a gap between capitalism and the historical conditions which precede socialism; the new national states will be forced to fill this gap. Once this has been done, the communist revolution in Africa and in Asia will find itself confronted with a “European situation”, i.e., the conditions reached by the countries where the capitalist transformation of the economy is a fait accompli.