racketeerism and parasitism

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Alf
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Jul 31 2010 16:20

The theory of parasitism was not 'created' because we refuse to answer criticisms of our politics and practises, but as a way of understanding why so many of the criticisms repeat the same distortions and caricatures. We never refused to 'answer' criticisms. We simply rejected the criticism that our mode of organisation is essentially a Stalinist apparat; we rejected the criticism that we were the ones who behaved like gangsters in 1981 for defending ourselves from theft and taking measures to recover what was stolen; we rejected the argument that every time there is a crisis in the ICC, we 'explain' everything that happens not in terms of profound weaknesses that reflect the weight of bourgeois ideological 'penetration' on the whole organisation, but simply on particular individuals; at the same time we rejected the criticism that warning the proletarian milieu of the dangerous behaviour of certain individuals is automatically proof that we are latter day Vyshinskys. In other words, we rejected and still reject the caricature that the ICC replaces any attempt to understand its various splits by simply blaming particular individuals or groupings. As long as this caricature goes on being repeated, we will not advance at all towards a serious discussion of these issues.

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Jul 31 2010 19:23

While my rhetorical 'Do you believe there is such a thing as parasites?' was a semi-joke aimed at mciver, I am interested to know whether those that are the loudest detractors of the ICC and/or this particular topic are willing to concede that there have been harmful and/or criminal elements that have found their way into left communist groups.

My opinion of the theses on its face, not taking into account how it has been used in the past or how it is interpreted by the ICC or other groups, is definitely formed partially on knowing about these 2 incidents specifically (Workers Resistance & the circulo).

As far as context and the 'crazy paranoid cult etc' accusations, I think these two very direct harmful examples show that it would be reasonable to believe there are instances when left communist groups come under attack by outside forces (criminality) or bourgeois mentality (individualism, adventurism).

These comments all have nothing to do with the question of splits and factions formed around or because of bourgeois influence (opportunism, putschism, etc)- which is what the bulk of the theses seems to be about.

I don't think using rhetorical questions and leading-questions is in itself 'Stalinist' 1ngram. Like I said, these are what questions I have when I read responses like mcivers and others who give the impression that any belief in the possibility of harmful elements to an organization developing among revolutionary groups is insane, paranoid, stalinist, etc. The questions are definitely leading, but its very basic, what is the level of hysteria, are we all capable, regardless of what groups we belong to or don't belong to or used to belong to, to talk about this topic.

ajjohnstone
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Jul 31 2010 19:31
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I presume the Ukrainian 'Worker's Revolution' was the group in the Ukraine who ripped off all the Trotskyists.

If we are discussing the same organisation , they were themselves Trotskyists, members of the CWI which is the parent organisation of SPEW, who defrauded and scammed from the SPGB and the American SLP amongst others.

SPEW and CWI declined to assume responsibility and continued to have contact with the main con-artist involved

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Jul 31 2010 23:09
Beltov wrote:
To come back to Noa's question, "What do the theses actually positively propose/contribute?"

Very briefly, the working class has only two weapons: its consciousness and its organisation. Political parasitism goes to the destruction of the organisation. No organisation, no revolution. So, the organisation has to defend itself or it dies.

Alright I got that but the text then offers no theoretical contribution at explaining 'political parasitism', which, unless I'm mistaken, was the stated purpose. There is no theory of parasitism.

Beltov wrote:
I'd also like to come back to Noa's point about Mehring. We've answered this before here. Mehring thought Marx was departing from a class analysis to one that was personalised and conspiratorial. We disagree and try to develop on the reasons why.

Thank you, I see it's the third article in a series on communist organisation (here is the second: http://en.internationalism.org/node/3708 , I couldn't find the first one). They date from 1997-1996, i.e. prior to the theses on parasitism (1998), to which they provide the backbone (i.e. the Bakunin-IWA issue). The ICC's account is not reliable, and because Mehring's account of this episode was known, it's distorting history (e.g., the fact there was no evidence for the accusations of the Hague report, Utin's wild fantasies against Bakunin). Again, the ICC's reassessment of anarchism will have to include a closer look at Mehring's account, as for now Bakunin remains parasite number 1 on the ICC's list.

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Jul 31 2010 23:12
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Mehring thought Marx was departing from a class analysis to one that was personalised and conspiratorial

Well, he mostly blames Engels (and Lafargue), and mehring says Marx and Engels later made a much better assessment of the whole situation.

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Aug 1 2010 00:21

Devoration1 Post 62

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Mciver, your hysteria is unfounded. I brought up two organizations (though the former turned out to be one individual acting 'in the name of' a group) that have demonstrated harmful activity on left communist organizations for the purpose of causing harm (the circulo on the ICC & IBRP, the Ukrainian group on the IBRP). I am asking whether people here would consider their actions as 'parasitic'- not as in the Theses On Parasitism, 'parasitic' as the term is commonly used in English (or Americanized English)- a manner in which a thing, person or group attaches itself to a 'host' (another thing, person or group) to extract blood, money, personal satisfaction, 'the life force', whatever from.
Do you acknowledge that there is such a thing on the earth as a parasite, and that the entire biological category of parasite and its use in English as a descriptor of people or group actions was not completely invented by the ICC?
Quote:
What is my 'racket' exactly? You know very well and have been specifically told I do not belong to any organization, including the ICC. Over the course of about a year I've come to agree with many of their positions, and find their answers to a number of questions more satisfactory and credible than those who oppose them.

As I don't know the actions mentioned, and I presume most following these posts don't either, how do you expect individuals to agree or disagree with your 'demonstration' which is nothing of the kind, but a simple revelation? Normally one would call this arrogance, even hysteria, to use your lay psycho incursion. I notice that the only link you provide about 'el círculo' is from your future ward.

I'm surprised that you have been an ICC fellow traveller for about a year. Really too long, cruel, to keep you waiting, I would complain if I were you, what ingratitude, especially after all this good work online. You are a natural and I'm sure you'll escalate a high post in no time, perhaps in charge of the PR and microbiology commissions.

But the real whammy is:

Quote:
Do you acknowledge that there is such a thing on the earth as a parasite,...

Well, really? I'll be damned, yes of course I acknowledge this about planet earth, but was all this about arthropods and protozoa? Are the Theses secret protocols on microbiology? I'll check next time if Chénier has grown antenna and the Luther Blissetts are replicating out of control.

And the next:

Quote:
and that the entire biological category of parasite and its use in English as a descriptor of people or group actions was not completely invented by the ICC?

Difficult to reply to these turgid claims. First, you say that the ICC didn't 'invent completely' the 'entire biological category of parasite'. So what part of this 'biological category' did it invent? Second, who are the other inventors, you mean microbiologists? Or the likes of Docktor Achim Gercke and the Nuremberg Laws of 1935, which is more likely where you are coming from?

Now the use in English of 'parasite' as a descriptor of people or group actions of course wasn't invented by the ICC 'completely' either. 'Parasite' means a hanger-on, a cadger, a leech, mooch, freeloader, sponger, etc. It's a 'descriptor' of individuals, a derogatory category to describe a person who relies on others or exploits others, giving nothing in return.

But when used as a category to define groups of people the intentionality and content changes in quality, and becomes a targeting device to exclude, persecute and exterminate human groups. Parasit then is synonymous with Untermensch, a Nazi and Stalinist hunting cry. Indeed Devoration1 uses the term 'biological', not 'microbiological', as the first is more descriptive of larger, human-shaped vermin. He identifies with this usage. This is the tradition that the apparat has chosen, wittingly or not.

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Aug 1 2010 00:48

I think it was Beltov who said what parasitism means;

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but to be brief we consider that a group can be described as “parasitic” essentially on the basis of two criteria:

1. The group defends the same political positions as an already existing organization, especially when it is a split from the latter.

2. The group devotes most or a substantial part of its energy attempting to discredit those groups or organizations to which it appears to be closest, if one were to judge from its publicly declared political positions.

Devoration1 uses 'parasitism' in its ordinary sense, which is confusing (+ it was already pointed out that the ICC themselves at many times misapplied their own term).

When Devoration brings up the Ukranian group he is speaking in terms of parasitism, but ironically it would be better to speak of racket, also in the ordinary sense of the word.

Mciver wrote:
I'll check next time if Chénier has grown antenna and the Luther Blissetts are replicating out of control.

disturbing imagery

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Aug 1 2010 00:54

I am glad that if nothing else can be agreed upon, we have at least established a bipartisan understanding that things known as parasites do exist on earth.

Edit: Noa- I didn't mean to be confusing. I wanted to bring attention to the accusations of parasitism being a 'psycho, loony, etc' idea- and tried to use examples of organized harm that have been perpetrated against left communist groups to establish that it isn't such a paranoid, crazy idea to want to defend a revolutionary organization from outside, harmful elements in general.

I think establishing that there have been harmful group actions taken against left communist groups in recent history changes the context of even discussing the theses on parasitism- which is specifically about political groups (often splits) that claim to be the authentic group or have identical platforms while engaging in any one or more of the dangerous -ism's that can infect a revolutionary group (adventurism, opportunism, entryism, putschism, etc).

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Aug 1 2010 01:22
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Edit: Noa- I didn't mean to be confusing.

glennbeckfan1776
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Aug 1 2010 01:39

This thread is confusing. Is parasitism some sort of communist theory?

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888
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Aug 1 2010 02:27

No.

glennbeckfan1776
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Aug 1 2010 02:51

hmm...well whatever it is, it seems to have something to do with politics. interesting.

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Aug 1 2010 11:38
Alf wrote:
So this would seem to be the first question to debate. Perhaps it should start with something that is more widely accepted, though by no means universally: opportunism. Does it constitute a real and negative force in the life of the proletariat?

I think the first problem is that you are confusing the life of the proletariat with the life of tiny pro-revolutionary sects.

Alf wrote:
The second question, as Noa also clearly recognises, is the Marx/Bakunin split. If our reassessment of anarchism means anything, it will necessarily involve going back to this key moment in the history of the workers' movement. It is well known that we have declared our support for the basic stance adopted by Marx and Engels in this crisis within the International, but this does not mean that we are closed to all discussion of the criticisms that the libertarians and others continue to make of the 'Marx party' on this issue.

I would agree that a reassessment of anarchism will necessarily involve going back to the birth of anarchism in the first international, but this will only be useful if you look at the actual political differences involved, instead of at the personal quarrels between Marx and Bakunin. If we look at actual political differences, the ICC is obviously much closer to the anarchist side of the split than the Marxist: defending the independence of the working class and refusing to let it be tied up with parliamentarianism and reformism, just for a start.

Even the organizational outlook of the ICC is not that far from Bakunin's: arguing that the party should not take power, but provide guidence and theoretical clarification for a class movement that will arise more or less spontaneously. With Bakunin and the ICC's view of political organizing, what is important is creating a small but well-organized band of elite revolutionaries, and the size of this organization is of secondary importance. Bakunin once declared that 300 committed and organized revolutionaries across Europe would be enough. For the ICC, the most pressing task facing the proletariat today is apparently the theoretical clarification going on amongst a few hundred pro-revolutionaries scattered across the world.

This is very different from the orthodox Marxist view of mass workers parties that should work for realistic reforms within capitalism as well as preparing to take over state power when the time is ripe.

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Aug 1 2010 15:45
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Even the organizational outlook of the ICC is not that far from Bakunin's: arguing that the party should not take power, but provide guidence and theoretical clarification for a class movement that will arise more or less spontaneously. With Bakunin and the ICC's view of political organizing, what is important is creating a small but well-organized band of elite revolutionaries, and the size of this organization is of secondary importance. Bakunin once declared that 300 committed and organized revolutionaries across Europe would be enough. For the ICC, the most pressing task facing the proletariat today is apparently the theoretical clarification going on amongst a few hundred pro-revolutionaries scattered across the world.

Felix;

I think this 300 revolutionaries would be enoug for Europe thing was not an open declaration but a secret letter to a French comrade of his. In fact in Bakunin's public writings you can not see the implication of such an organizational perspective. So for Bakunin, there was a dual organization;

A mass organization; like IWMA as the representative of future society in today

and;

The secret pilots of the storm without any degree hence more powerful i.e. a secret organization in line with Wilhelm Weitling's or early French rev. groups type.

I think ICC thinks that this is not the marxist perspective on the organization. The way I understood the ICC's perspective is that they do not believe that they are the party and they do not have anything to do with being a secret organization inside the mass organizations -which is more close to trotskiysts of today-. Anyway as a left communist my personal opinion is that, the future party will not make the revolution, and hence the contemporary organizations should not do agitation (I believe what Bakunin meant in the phrase above was agitation amon masses). However if the communist organization has a role it is not leading but the clarification of the class consciousness throught open discussion inside the struggle.

I think what Bakunin has in mind was not close to that.

-----------------

Does anybody know about the funeral speechs given on Bakunin's death? I remember from Sam Dolgoff that one person said something like, "this must be the day onward which as marxists and anarchists we should start to reconsider our differences or hositilities" kind of.

ernie
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Aug 1 2010 17:49

Mikail sums up our position on the party and organisation very well.
Our position on the use of unions and parliament are the same as Marx in the context of the 19th century and the ascendant period of capitalism. The trade unions were proletarian organisations and expressed its efforts to organise its economic struggle against the capitalist systems efforts to reduce its wages, extend ours etc. The position of the ICC is the same as Marx on the vital place of political struggle in the development of the proletariat's struggle to liberate itself and humanity from capitalism. In the 19th century the working class could and had to organise part of its political struggle to include participation in elections. This process of building political parties, carry out the political struggle in parliament and during election played an important role in developing the proletariats confidence in itself and its ability to take on the ruling class. These two aspects of the proletarian struggle its organisation and consciousness however were faced with having to develop within the context of the pervasive weight of bourgeois ideology, which found expression within the workers movement through the grow of opportunism i.e., the idea at the time that the proletariat could accommodate itself to capitalism. This underlines the point that the workers' movement has to fight a constant and difficult struggle against the penetration of bourgeois ideology in its ranks..
One last clarification we do not see the political organisations of the proletariat as being a isolated elite standing apart from the class. For us revolutionary organisations are an expression of the proletariat's efforts to develop its class consciousness.

ernie
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Aug 1 2010 18:31

glennbeckfan1776

The ICC is believes that the analysis of parasitism is an essential part of a communist analysis of the role of revolutionary organisations and the danger facing them from the penetration of bourgeois ideology. If we are not aware and armed against the existence or possible existence of groups or individuals whose activity is mainly centered around attacking the class enemy but instead focuses on attacking and trying to spread hostility and distrust towards this or that revolutionary organisation or the Communist Left as a whole; we are leaving ourselves open to the undermining of the sense of common interests and solidarity between revolutionary groups and individuals.
One of the conditions that has allowed for the rise of such destructive behaviour has been the terrible weight of sectarianism within the Communist Left. If there was an atmosphere of confidence and solidarity between organisations and individuals defending Left Communism or all those defending Internationalism be they communist, or anarchist, whilst at the same time acknowledging and confronting the differences that exist through discussion, those who spread distrust would have no oxygen to breath. The ICC does not exclude itself from the weight of sectarianism at times in our activity, but we have always had the aim of seeking to develop a common work between the groups of the Comunist Left; though we may have done this rather clumsily.
The central question is not what we call these behaviors but acknowledging that they can and do exist and are a real danger.. This is where a lot of the differences on the question of parasitism comes from.

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Aug 1 2010 19:23

whose activity is mainly centered around attacking the class enemy but instead focuses on attacking and trying to spread hostility and distrust towards this or that revolutionary organisation

Typo - very important 'not' is missing. This was precisely the charge levelled by the International's commission of inquiry at Bakunin's secret brotherhood - that their activity effectively meant undermining the organisation of the working class, the International, rather than directing their energies to attacking the ruling class. In our view, Bakunin's concept of the secret brotherhood, as Mikail points out, is deeply hierarchical, with Bakunin as the hierarch in chief. It was a model of circles within circles modelled on freemasonry. It is not our view of the revolutionary organisation.

We have written a number of articles on this. I believe Noa referred to them in his first post, but he considered them to be unreliable, without really explaining why.

They are mainly available online, in the International Reviews around 1995-96. This is one of them: 'Questions of Organization, Part 2: The 1st International against Bakunin's "Alliance"'
http://en.internationalism.org/node/3708. I have not read this for a long time, but it is surely serious enough to be a starting point for the discussion.

Having said this, I found the tone and approach of Felix's posts on this and the other thread to be very constructive. He is also right to criticise Leo's 'diagnosis' of mciver. This is not an appropriate thing to do, and anyway many of the currently accepted psychological 'disorders' need to be questioned very thoroughly. But even if this made Leo seem "mean-spirited", he is anything but that.

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Aug 1 2010 20:53
Quote:
I would agree that a reassessment of anarchism will necessarily involve going back to the birth of anarchism in the first international, but this will only be useful if you look at the actual political differences involved, instead of at the personal quarrels between Marx and Bakunin. If we look at actual political differences, the ICC is obviously much closer to the anarchist side of the split than the Marxist: defending the independence of the working class and refusing to let it be tied up with parliamentarianism and reformism, just for a start.

Even the organizational outlook of the ICC is not that far from Bakunin's: arguing that the party should not take power, but provide guidence and theoretical clarification for a class movement that will arise more or less spontaneously. With Bakunin and the ICC's view of political organizing, what is important is creating a small but well-organized band of elite revolutionaries, and the size of this organization is of secondary importance. Bakunin once declared that 300 committed and organized revolutionaries across Europe would be enough. For the ICC, the most pressing task facing the proletariat today is apparently the theoretical clarification going on amongst a few hundred pro-revolutionaries scattered across the world.

This is very different from the orthodox Marxist view of mass workers parties that should work for realistic reforms within capitalism as well as preparing to take over state power when the time is ripe.

I agree that a lot of this may be true today- but thats the one caveat, that at the time Bakunin and others supported such forms of organization and intervention, the material conditions for the overthrow of the bourgeoisie and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat were not met. As mikail and ernie point out, the ICC supports the position of Marx that he held at that time, due to the material/historical conditions (that it was possible for the working class to win durable reforms through electoralism and trade unionism- like the 10 then 8 hour day, increases in wage and benefits across shops and industries, etc and not yet possible to establish socialism because the world market had not been completed and saturated creating the possibility of abundance).

Personally I'd very much like to learn more about the anarchist theories of organization (the origins to the revocable delegate, workers council, etc), specifically during the mid to late 19th century (including Bakunin's Alliance). It certainly sounds comparable to the concept of a class party- instead of national mass worker's parties, one international minority party of revolutionaries from all over world giving coherence, clarity and direction to the class globally.

It just amplifies the idea that in the grand scheme of things, several different traditions (left communism, revolutionary and anarcho syndicalism, class struggle/internationalist anarchism, possibly platformism) have different terms and language to describe similar tactics, strategy, goals and organizational philosophy- that we all have a similar view of working class politics, revolution and the future classless, moneyless global society.

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Aug 1 2010 20:55
alf wrote:
We have written a number of articles on this. I believe Noa referred to them in his first post, but he considered them to be unreliable, without really explaining why.

I referred to them in post # 67, yes, though I see you also had no luck in finding the first article in the series. I mentioned that there was no evidence for the accusations of the Hague report of a secret plot of the Alliance and that Mehring finds the report a sham because of Utin's 'wild fantasies' against Bakunin. Furthermore, Mehring doesn't ignore the difference between Marx and Bakunin in organizational questions (he writes; 'The decisive characteristic of all sectarianism is its hostility to all forms of the proletarian mass movement, hostile both in the sense that sectarianism has no use for such a movement and such a movement has no use for sectarianism.' and 'On the whole the historic significance of socialist sectarianism is aptly characterized,..'). He faults the report precisely on the grounds that it doesn't add a contribution ('... this pamphlet below anything else Marx and Engels ever published. The positive side of the new knowledge, released by negative criticism, is what gives their other polemical writings their own peculiar attraction and lasting value, but the Alliance pamphlet shows nothing of this.') to any theoretical issue but sinks to the depth of discrediting Bakunin as a footpad and common blackmailer (Mehring writes of these defamers; 'they conceal their long ears under the nightcap of petty-bourgeois respectability or don the lion’s skin of a Marx to cloak their trembling limbs.'). Further, Mehring writes; 'The differences between the two referred to the tactics which this mass movement must adopt in order to achieve its aim. No matter how wrong Bakunin’s views may have been, they certainly had nothing in common with sectarianism.'

Btw, is there any anarchist text dealing with the report of the IWA's 1872 Hague Congress, giving the anarchist view of their expulsion?

The ICC focusses mostly on the Bakunists, but let's not forget that the Lassalleans were also considered parasites.

The ICC responds to this with the following;

Quote:
In answering these critiques, we will now demonstrate that the position of Marx against Bakunin was indeed based on a materialist class analysis. This was the analysis of political adventurism and the role of the declassed. It is this crucially important "new insight" of "lasting value" which Mehring[2], and with him the majority of present day revolutionary groups, have completely overseen or misunderstood.

What class analysis is that?:

Quote:
The adventurer, on the contrary, to the extent that he has been working on his own account, will always be defended by petty bourgeois sentimentalism, as in the sad case of Mehring.

Talk of the petty-bourgeois origins of people and pointing out that Bakunin had been an officer who descended from aristocrats , etc. is not class analysis, it's the most vulgar sociology, incidentally shared by the theory of racketeerism (more on that later). Mehring's account remains unaddressed (a footnote warns of the 'devastating effects' Mehring had 'on the workers' movement for decades'.).

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Aug 1 2010 21:04

Mikail: one point I didn't understand in your contribution earlier, when you said that communist organisations today 'should not do agitation'. What do you understand by the term 'agitation' - we usually take it to mean putting forward specific proposals to take specific struggles forward, and we would certainly think that this is the task of a communist organisation today.

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Aug 2 2010 03:00
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Mikail: one point I didn't understand in your contribution earlier, when you said that communist organisations today 'should not do agitation'. What do you understand by the term 'agitation' - we usually take it to mean putting forward specific proposals to take specific struggles forward, and we would certainly think that this is the task of a communist organisation today.

I mean the bakuninist agitation mentality. That is, the idea that, the revolution is only waiting for the agitators to move the people forward. This may not something clearly be expressed in his writings. But in his actions -in Lyons commune- and in the various premature rebellions it is there. Maybe action by the deed would be a better expression but I am not sure.

Contrary to that I think left communism is not defending forcing the struggles to come into existance. This is also what I understand from that;

Quote:
In the period of decadence, the organisation of revolutionaries conserves the general characte­ristics of the preceding period, with the added factor that the defence of the proletariat’s im­mediate interests can no longer be separated from the final goal which has now been put on the historical agenda.

On the other hand, because of this latter point, it no longer has the role of organising the class:

this can only be the work of the class itself in struggle, leading to a new kind of organisation both economic - an organisation of immediate re­sistance and defence - and political, orientating itself towards the seizure of power. This kind of organisation is the workers’ council.

In the period of decadence, the organisation of revolutionaries conserves the general characte­ristics of the preceding period, with the added factor that the defence of the proletariat’s im­mediate interests can no longer be separated from the final goal which has now been put on the historical agenda.

On the other hand, because of this latter point, it no longer has the role of organising the class:

this can only be the work of the class itself in struggle, leading to a new kind of organisation both economic - an organisation of immediate re­sistance and defence - and political, orientating itself towards the seizure of power. This kind of organisation is the workers’ council.

Taking up the old watchword of the workers’ mo­vement: “the emancipation of the workers is the task of the workers themselves”, the revolutiona­ry organisation can only fight against all substitutionist conceptions as being based on a bourgeois view of the revolution. As an organi­sation, the revolutionary minority does not ha­ve the task of elaborating a platform of imme­diate demands to mobilise the class in advance. On the other hand it must show itself to be a­mong the most resolute participants in the strug­gle, propagating a general orientation for the strug­gle and denouncing the agents and ideologies or the bourgeoisie within the class. During the struggle it stresses the need for generalisation, the only road that leads to the ineluctable cul­mination of the movement: the revolution. It is neither a spectator nor a mere water-carrier.

http://en.internationalism.org/ir/023_proletariat_under_decadence.html

On the other hand I did not mean this with the agitation;

Quote:
we usually take it to mean putting forward specific proposals to take specific struggles forward
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Aug 2 2010 03:12
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Btw, is there any anarchist text dealing with the report of the IWA's 1872 Hague Congress, giving the anarchist view of their expulsion?

Noa;

I think you should check Sam Dolgoff's "Bakunin". It is an anarchist source as far as I can tell. And include many first hand texts about the divergences and issues in the IWMA and historical background

ernie
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Aug 2 2010 10:09

Noa

There is a chapter in George Woodcock's Anarchism. Whilst whilst being very critical of Marx etc does say there is circumstantial evidence that the Secrete Alliance existed

Max Nettlau's A short history of Anarchism has an chapter on the struggle within the International (Chapter 10) which has a very interesting quote from Malastesta who in 1914 said

Quote:
Bakunin expected a great deal from the International: yet at the same time, he created the Alliance, a secrete organization with a well-determined program -atheist, socialist, anarchist, revolutionary- which was truly the soul of the International in all the Latin countries and gave the anarchist impulse to the one branch of the International as the Marxists, on the other hand, gave the Social Democratic impulsion to its other branch

.......Why try to conceal certain truths now that they are in the domain of history and can serve as a lesson for the present and future?... We, who were known in the International as Bakuninists and who were members of the Alliance, made loud outcries against the Marxists because they tried to make their own particular pro gramme prevail in the International. Yet, setting aside the question of the legality of their methods, which it is fruitless to dwell upon now, we did just what they did; we sought to make use of the International for our party aims. The difference lay in the fact that we, as anarchists, relied chiefly on propaganda, and, since we wanted to gain converts for the anarchist cause, emphasized decentralisation, the autonomy of groups, free initiative, both individual and collective, whilst the Marxists, being authoritarians as they were, wanted to impose their ideas by majority strength -which was more or less fictitious- by centralisation and by discipline. But all of us, Bakuninists and Marxists alike, tried to force events rather than relying upon the force of events

I have not read the rest yet but this is pretty good to begin with, at least Malatesta states clearly that the secrete Alliance existed and was the core of the Bakuninist sections. If I remember correctly Bakunin and Guilliame's expulsion from the International was mainly based on their setting up of a secrete Alliance. Malatesta's state would appear to affirm that this decision was correct. The other accusation was that Bakunin had used fraudulent practices to obtain the property of others, which would appear to be based on Netchayeff's threatening letter to the publisher of the Russian translation of Kapital, which from the stuff I have read so far is a lot more open to question. It would appear Bakunin know nothing about this letter and disapproved of it. I wonder why Woodcock says the evidence for the existence of the secrete Alliance is only circumstantial when we have Malatesta's statement; i don't think Malatesta has gone soft on the Marxists in his old age. I am sure others will be able to answer this.

ernie
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Aug 2 2010 10:15

What do the Anarchists think of Malatesta's statement? Is it taken out of context? Do they accept that a Secrete Aliiance existed? It could be I have missed statements about this in the thread but it would help to develop the discussion if at least we could agree on what existed and didn't or at least be clear about the different understandings of what went on.

mikail firtinaci's picture
mikail firtinaci
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Aug 2 2010 12:59
Quote:
Do they accept that a Secrete Aliiance existed?

I am not an anarchist but I was. And as far as I know "secret alliance" is one of the key texts for platformism.

On the other hand Sam dalgoff for instance argue that secret alliance was only something that Bakunin had in his mind, that did not have any actual reality, that it was only his fantasy. That is why he tend to say that Marxists turned this into something against Bakunin by pretending that it was a real and huge complo.

Personally I think Dolgoff is a bit correct. I also tend to think that secret alliance is a bit of exaggerated. But today it is certain that Bakunin was not quite honest in his words. This at least shows that his organizational theory was a bit inconsistent.

But I also think that in order to understand the real evolution of anarchist organization theory-practice it would be better to look later periods such as 1880's and later. Because as far as I know only then an organizational seperation between the syndicalist and the communist wings had emerged.

what do you think?

*---------------

Quote:
If I remember correctly Bakunin and Guilliame's expulsion from the International was mainly based on their setting up of a secrete Alliance.

there is also a false accusation made on Bakunin which was another reason. It is claimed at the time that he forced the publisher of marx's capital in russian (which Bakunin was to translate) to pay in advance. Later on it became clear that it was Nechaev who did it and Bakunin was not involved - I think.

rata
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Aug 2 2010 13:15
ernie wrote:
What do the Anarchists think of Malatesta's statement? Is it taken out of context? Do they accept that a Secrete Aliiance existed? It could be I have missed statements about this in the thread but it would help to develop the discussion if at least we could agree on what existed and didn't or at least be clear about the different understandings of what went on.

Alliance did exist, and it did present the ideological pole of the Bakunin's strategy. There is a good text which is, among other things, describing this. It's "Anarcho-syndicalism in the course of history" by Jose Luis Garcia Rua wink - as far as I know it's only in Spanish - http://metalmadrid.cnt.es/documentos/anarcosinidicalismo_decurso_historico.pdf

1ngram
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Aug 2 2010 13:42

In reply to Alf’s post No. 64

I will leave it to those interested in this thread to determine whether my description of what the ICC has said about the many comrades who have left it over the years is caricature, as Alf would have it, or a true reflection of their explanations of these many splits. Unfortunately I don’t believe any of the relevant articles from WR or RI or IR dealing with each particular individual/group are available on their website (though I would be happy to be proven wrong). The CBG, of course, throughout its lifetime sought to document and respond to these events in a number of articles in the Bulletin, from the first splits of the early Eighties which are dealt with comprehensively in the first few issues of the Bulletin, through Bulletin 9: (http://cbg.110mb.com/ICCSalem.pdf_9.pdf), to Bulletin 10 where we dealt with the split that formed the External Fraction, now Internationalist Perspectives http://cbg.110mb.com/Fraction.pdf_10.pdf, and finally Bulletin 16 http://cbg.110mb.com/ICCWaco.pdf_16.pdf.

My own Open Letter of 1997 (available here on LibCom http://libcom.org/history/open-letter-international-communist-current) also deals with this issue.

Yet Alf still asserts that these splits were the result not of political differences but because of : “profound weaknesses that reflect the weight of bourgeois ideological ‘penetration’ on the whole organization”. Needless to say the weight fell most heavily on those who left and, almost dialectically, the organization was left stronger as a result – until it happened again, and again, and again. The political differences, whatever they were in each case, were never made clear.

Personally I think the use of the concept of ‘penetration of bourgeois ideology’ is one we could well do without. Obviously, to a greater or lesser extent, we are all penetrated by bourgeois ideology but it is a phrase and an argument (sic) that most often reflects the fact that the author is unable to defend his position politically. It effectively bypasses having to critically assess and debate the issues by bouncing the opposition into the enemy camp and, in many cases, that’s exactly what is intended. In a way its like accusing someone of being a parasite – it avoids the real discussion.

Finally the notion that the problems of the ICC were those of immaturity. In fact the opposite is true. The ICC cannot draw a line back to the revolutionary organizations of the period of revolution (indeed none of us can). On the contrary the ICC’s mentor MC came from the period of profoundest proletarian political defeat and brought with him modes of operation which might have been suitable to such troubled times but were a complete and negative anachronism in the era of its foundation and development. I have tried to address some of these issues in my Obituary of MC (to be found in Bulletin 15 here: http://cbg.110mb.com/ChirikOBIT.pdf_15.pdf )

karen61
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Aug 2 2010 13:58

Awesome site! Continuate il magnifico lavoro

Battlescarred
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Aug 2 2010 16:28

If you want to see what the anarchists said you should read the deliberations of the St Imier Congress of September 1872. This was convened by the Jura Federation but it included representatives from the Spanish and Italian Federations. It unanimously repudiated the decisions of the Hague Congress and denied the newly formulated authority of the General Council. It defended and re-affirmed the autonomy of national sections and denied the principle of majority decisions. Its second resolution was to declare a Pact of Solidarity between the sections represented, Its third resolution called for the destruction of any political power, and rejected compromises on the road to revolution.
"The Congress meeting at St Imier declares:
1. That the destruction of all political power is the first duty of the proletariat
2. That all organisation of a so-called provisional revolutionary power to enable this destruction cannot be but one more illusion and will be as dangerous for the proletariat as all the governments in existence today
3. That rejecting all compromise to arrive at the accomplishment of the social revolution, proletarians of all countries must establish, outside of all bourgeois politics, the solidarity of revolutionary action."..
The autonomy of sections within the International was a given, it was not just "Bakuninist" ideology but a common and widespread opposition to the General Council . The issue was over organisation rather than ideology, though it could be argued here that they were intimately entwined. This opposition had very real differences within it and it would be thoroughly misleading to caricature the split in the International as one between "Marxism" and "anarchism". These terms themselves did not really appear until after the split had been accomplished.
Marx first used the term "anarchist" in a pejorative sense in his Les pretendues scissions de l'Internationale in March 1872. This was a semi-veiled attack on the Alliance and the term was used in its traditional sense as during the French revolution to denote promoters of disorganisation, here this being opposition to the General Council.
The other side of the coin was the development of the term "Marxist" . It was first used in Reponse de Quelques Internaux in June 1872 in the Jura Bulletin. It attacked Marx and his followers on the General Council, whose aim , it noted " was to have all the federations led by men who consent to be loyal to Marx, and to crush under the most horrible calumny all those who want to keep their independence and their dignity".
It directed its fire at the "Marxist conspiracy" and described Marx's son in law Lafargue as the "apostle of the Marxist law", the law being whatever Marx dictated. This refers to Marx's instructions to Lafargue to procee to Spain to break the hold of "Bakuninism" there at which he had had little and not very long-lasting success. "Marxist" was used to describe the grouping within the International around Marx himself. As the Reponse observed, many of the Jura Internationalists had read Capital : " They had read it, and all the same they had not become Marxists; that must appear very singular to this naive son-in-law. How many are there, on the other hand, on the General Council , who are Marxists withiout ever having opened the book of Marx".
James Guillaume developed the theme in the Memoire de la Federation Jurassienne in 1873 where he made frequent references to the "Marxist coterie" and the "Marxists". referring to the group around Marx and his supporters in the General Council.
It would be naive to deny that a group of militants existed around Bakunin , or rather that Bakunin was in vclose contact with militants who shared his outlook, who had some of them, indeed developed their own ideas remarkably similar to Bakunin, within the workers movement.
It would be equally naive to deny the same state of affairs existed with Marx, as Malatesta has noted.

Battlescarred
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Aug 2 2010 17:09

It should be noted that the Pact of Solidarity developed at St Imier included as well as the Jura, Spanish and Italians, - French and American sections and was adhered to a little later by the English, Belgians, Portuguese and Danes. Again, it should be reiterated that there were serious political differences between all these sections, but that what united them was their opposition to the manouevres of the General Council and the campaign of calumny led by it ( If you want to talk about racketeerism and its origins you have to go back a little earlier than Bolshevism and probably even further back than the First International with the scissions in the Communist League of 1848 onwards).
It should be remembered that Marx himself, so eager to tar Bakunin with the brush of dubious activities, was himself a victim of two French police agents. Because he had no concrete proof of the continuing work of the Alliance, as borne out by the findings of the commission set up at the Hague Congress; Marx resorted to personal slander,. Among those involved in these calumnies were the agents Van Heddeghem and Dentraygues both members of the Marxist coterie. Bakunin reported that Marx had said to him: "are you aware that I am presently at the head of a secret communist society so tightly disciplined that had I said to one of its members: "Go kill Bakunin" he would have killed you".
As Otto Ruhle wrote referring to the exclusion of Bakunin from the International in 1872:" Marx had triumphed over his despised adversary, but, not content, with severing all bonds of party fraternity between hinmself and his rival, he had indulged his hatred further by attacking his honour. Bakunin, at least if the Congress was to be believed, had omitted to pay Marx back a 300 ruble advance for a translation of Das Kapital: and Marx, the Marx who was immersed in a thousand shady deals and who lived his whole life long on other people's money, made out this out to be a hanging offense.
It was legitimate for him to battle for an objective policy to which he looked, to the exclusion of any other, for the liberation of the proletariat. He was within his rights to summon the International together to try to get rid of Bakunin, for Bakunin was doing all in his power to thwart him and his policy. But for him to seek to triumph objectively through recourse to methods as shameful as blackening his adversary was a dishonourable course that did not besmirch Bakunin but did besmirch its author. We see here the fatal aspect to his character: nothing ever took priority for Marx over his self-regard: not political matters, not the workers' movement , nor the interests of the revolution. That a gathering of international revolutionaries ready at the drop of a hat to blow private property and bourgeois morality sky high should have driven out, outlawed and expelled, on the denunciation of its leader, the most gifted, most heroic and most fascinating of its number because of some alleged infraction of the bourgeois laws of property, was one of the bloodiest jests in history".
Otto Ruhle, Karl Marx, 1937.
In doing this, Marx followed the same manouevres he had employed within the Communist League, which had led to its wrecking and impotence.