Is the SPGB an anarchist organization?

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Aflwydd
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Jun 3 2011 23:46
ajjohnstone wrote:
i pose this question to Aftwydd , how do you anticipate change arising if you already dismiss the possibilty of workers being capable of understanding and desiring socialism/anarchism due to brain-washing and manipulation by the media?

I see the pulling down of the propaganda empire as the first stage of a possible revolution. I'm actually surprised that there aren't more direct attacks on that empire. After all, it's clear that without propaganda, it would be far easier for socialism to spread.

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(And what made you so different and special that you aren't a victim of it?)

Nothing. The only difference between me and most people I know is that I stumbled onto information thanks to the internet. I wasn't attacking anybody; it's not the fault of the majority that they are brainwashed by propaganda. When you're working forty hours a week and dealing with other matters in between, you don't have the time to spend hours on the internet reading articles unlike students such as me.

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I think leaving the control and command centres of the coercive elements of the state in the hands of the state without even challenging the legitimacy places the workers in an even worse position.

And it can't be challenged without MPs?

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And has not every revolution ended up with that masses demanding elections, In 1917 it was for the Constituent Assembly. As James Connolly said when the IWW jettisoned the political action clause , just try and stop workers from taking it.

Nobody is advocating the abolition of democracy.

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Yes socialist ideas will overspill into the military. Or are you saying that a soldier is something less than other workers.

I said that there will still be an element of opposition within the armed forces, not that the armed forces would be insulated from the ideas.

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Haven't you over-looked the sailors of 1918 Hamburg , or the Kronsdadt, or all the "Red Army" councils.

No.

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Please, no psychological profiling that the mentality of a worker in uniform is fundamentally and qualitatively different for a whole host of other occupiations.

The mentality of people whose job it is to murder on behalf of the state is different. Nothing to do with uniform.

ajjohnstone
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Jun 4 2011 10:42

Apologies for yet another screed but to many here the Socialist Party's conception of revolution lacks credibility and that they claim unlike the SPGB to possess a theory of revolution that does not expect people to wait for the overwhelming majority necessary to 'enact' socialism before doing something about their immediate problems. I hope this provides another angle of the discussion.

The WSM position is honest in that we don't know what the characteristics of revolution will look like in detail but we do think we know what it won't look like. Some expect the Socialist Party to be soothsayers. The problem is that it is rather useless for us today to declare what tomorrow exactly is going to happen when socialism in imminent. Will the working class (even a socialist one that is highly politically educated) wait for the declaration of its elected representatives or delegates in Parliament and legislatures? What happens when say 55 per cent of the working class says "Let's do it now!" What happens if the majority of workers in the UK and Europe start to elect Socialist majorities, but not in the U.S., Japan, etc.? And what if the State (the
state capitalist State and private capitalist State) do begin to exert their powers to stifle the movement (and they will)? Do we then sit and wait again for our chance? What constitutes a working class majority wanting Socialism. Is it 51 per cent? 60 %? 75%? I feel this is a futile exercise to make. We simply cannot foresee the events that take place even when say 30 % of the working class becomes socialist.
And, furthermore, socialism and its construction will not simply be a legal enactment ( even though feudal property rights were abolished in France during the night of 4 August 1789 and in Russa at 2.30 am on the morning of 9 November 1917.)

Say, for example, that we reached the stage where 20% of the adult working population was indeed socialist. That would be an incredible achievement and there would be a sudden rise in working class militancy in immediate issues, there would be a new "socialist culture" being built, changes within the entire labour movement, in daily life and how people thought politically. At 40% we would still not be the "overwhelming majority" but this would be such a sizably significant and politically powerful base. And here quantitative changes would mean qualitative changes. The "movement" we have now would not be the same movement under those circumstances. It might move in directions we have never even considered. And it has profound implications. It is too difficult for us to simply say that when the overwhelming majority of people around the world want socialism they will create it because there will indeed rise these very revolutionary situations or critical revolutionary crisis or juncture that have not followed the formal logic of the propositions we put forward. The "movement" will take on a life of its own.

The World Socialist Movement cannot control whether or not workers become socialists. What we can provide, and what we have continuously provided, is a theory of revolution which , if had been taken up by workers, would have prevented incalculable misery to millions. Over the years, the Party's theory has led to the formation of a body of knowledge which has been consistently capable of accurate political and economic predictions. For example, in 1917, the Bolsheviks were convinced that they were setting society in Russia on a course of change towards socialism. The Party argued that socialism was not being established in Russia. What followed was the horrendous misery of the Stalinist years. The Party put forward the same view of events in China in 1949. What is happening in Russia and China now? The rulers of these state capitalist regimes introduced free market capitalism. We warned against situations where groups or sections of workers try to stage the revolution or implement socialism when the rest of the working class is not prepared. They will only be prepared when they accept the need to capture political power and THEN the implementation of Socialism based on majority support can begin. Otherwise you may have a situation where a minority may push the majority into a situation it is not prepared for and the results could be disastrous. What comes to mind is the situation in Germany in 1919 when large groups of workers supported the Spartacus group while the majority of the working class still supported the Social Democratic Party. The uprising was put down brutally and the working class was divided. In regards to gradualism and reformism when in 1945 the Labour Party was elected with the objective of establishing a "socialist" Britain, the Party, again arguing from its theory, insisted that there would be no new social order. In fact, that Labour Government steered capitalism in Britain through the post-war crisis, enabling it to be massively expanded in the boom years of the 1950s. What is happening in the Labour Party now? Confused and directionless, it stands utterly bankrupt of ideas. The Labour Party even abandoned its adherence to Keynesian theories which the Party always insisted could never provide policies which would remove the anarchy of capitalism. Its ideas on the progressive introduction of socialism are now only a distant memory.

We have stated that the SPGB is aware that the use of parliament (or other suitable bodies) by a socialist majority is just one part of a much broader movement for change in which the revolutionised ideas and activities of millions of class-conscious workers will be rather more important than the actions of delegates in parliament. Nor is it right in stating that the Socialist Party relies "simply upon the agency of 'abstract propaganda' Our propaganda is not abstract: we relate to the real experiences of workers today, constantly making clear in our speaking and writing that socialism is the immediately practical solution to workers' so-called "short-term interests". The Socialist Party is well aware that revolution will not "simply" be the result of our propaganda efforts. Our appeal to workers is upon the basis of class interest and our appeal will be successful because the class struggle generates class consciousness in workers. The growth of socialist consciousness and organisation will allow workers to prosecute the class struggle more effectively. Socialist consciousness won't entirely emerge "spontaneously" out of the day-to-day struggle, which is given as an excuse for not advocating socialism by those such as Trotskyists who think it will. It has been claimed by some of them that all socialists need to do is to get involved in the day to day struggle.The justification for advocating socialism as such is that socialist ideas do have to be brought to workers, though not from outside, from the "bourgeois intelligentsia" or the "proletarian vanguard", but from inside, from members of the working class who have come to see that socialism is the way-out. We socialists are members of the working class spreading socialist ideas amongst our fellow workers. We are (if you like) part of the "spontaneous" process of the emergence of socialist consciousness.

Of course, socialist understanding evolves over a period of time. There are two models of revolution , i think prevalent in the SPGB (a) the snowball theory, that once a certain stage has been reached, socialist consciousness will grow at exponential rate and a majority will be reached in a relatively short time, and (b) the avalanche theory, that once that certain stage has been reached mass socialist consciousness will come suddenly. Both these views reject the view that the growth of socialist consciousness will be a simple 1+1+1 progression as individual workers are "converted" one by one, which is attributed to us.

All theoretical mysteries find their rational solution in human practice and the comprehension of this practice. Hence the idea of choosing between "abstract propagandism" and "doing something now" is as false a choice as choosing between theory and practice. We must have some theory linking the capitalist present and the socialist future. Some theory yes, but not just any theory. This theory must be based both on the class struggle as the motor of social change and on an understanding of the economics of capitalism and the limits it places on what can be done within the framework of the capitalist system. As socialists we are engaged in a necessarily contradictory struggle: on the one hand we propose the abolition of the wages system as an immediately practical alternative, but on the other we recognise the need of workers to fight the wages struggle within capitalism. But, as socialists, our main energies must be directed towards the former objective. We could endeavour to remove this distinction between the trade union struggle within capitalism and the socialist struggle against capitalism by adopting the ideas propounded by DeLeon, who at one time advocated that socialists should form their own "revolutionary unions" but their failure is a very important case study of the danger of imagining that capitalist institutions such as trade unions can be easily converted (or substituted) into socialist bodies. They demonstrate that capitalism cannot be transcended from within.

It is very probable that as more socialists come into the movement groups of them will have involvements in all kinds of areas of the class struggle, ranging from strike committees to anti-racist or anti-sexist awareness groups to people's theatre projects to libertarian education projects. However involved individual members may or may not be in what is going on outside the Socialist Party, we certainly need to be aware that workers are doing things which, often unknowingly, are contributing to the evolution of class consciousness. Not everything has to have the stamp of approval of the
SPGB for it to be non-reformist and contributory to the evolution which precedes revolution. The Socialist Party tries to guard against appearing to be
the sole agent of the socialist transformation. Our main task is to find better ways of expressing our message to as many workers as possible, to evolve a strategy so that we use our resources well and to retain our confidence in the face of the immense frustration and pessimism which socialists often encounter.

Some perceive a problem problem they can't see how workers who have become socialists can be expected to sit back and wait for a majority to join them before being able to do something constructive. But no-one's asking them to do this. There will be a whole series of "practical" actions, apart from socialist propaganda activity, that will become possible when once there is a substantial minority of socialists (as opposed to the tiny minority we are today). Our pamphlet "Socialist Principles Explained" says "The organisation and day-to-day running of socialist society will be a completely separate issue. It will have been discussed and planned at great length by everybody before the actual take-over of power takes place. " and "As the old regime is abolished, the new, really democratic, social order, discussed and planned for so long beforehand , will come into operation".

For instance there will be involvement in:-
* the challenges of the practice of democracy within the socialist political party, and the broader socialist movement generally.
* the task within the trade unions to prosecute the class struggle on the economic front in a more class-conscious and democratic way as well as drawing up plans for keeping production going during the period of social revolution while political action is being taken to end the monopoly exercised by the capitalist class over the means of production.
*participation within the numerous associations, clubs and mutual aid groups that will flourish at this time, to discuss and prepare the implementation of plans in such fields as town planning, education and culture both after and to a certain extent even before the establishment of socialism.

The growing socialist movement would be preparing for the change-over to socialism and drawing up of plans to reorganise decision-making on a fully democratic basis and to reorient production towards the satisfaction of needs once class ownership and the operation of capitalism's economic laws have been ended. People working in organisations like the WHO and the FAO and the host of other NGOs and charities would be dusting off plans to eliminate world hunger and unnecessary disease. Socialist educational and media ventures would be coming into existence.

We in the SPGB can can picture a socialist party and movement growing in the future along with many working class organisational forms including trade unions, councils, the old IWW idea of One Big Union but not without certain caveats. Workers' councils has, in the past, been a very independent body of workers created at the workplace itself (Russia 1905, 1917, Germany 1919, Hungary 1919, the British General strike, council movements in Ireland and Scotland in the same period, in Italy, Hungary 1956, Poland 1970). They usually arise in situations of economic and political crises. They also often rise in opposition to the established trade unions. They are very much spontaneous organisations that do not have any clearly defined political goal (in our case, socialism). Their existence can challenge the State, but not necessarily so. Their inherent problem is that they can be political organisations (again not necessarily so), but tied to the prevailing economic structure of capitalism.. And because they arise in response to whatever crisis, their co-ordination is difficult, and the political consciousness of the workers not necessarily socialist in the end. In past revolutions the councils have swayed back and forth between political parties and movements and there is no "conscious" action other than a responsive one.

Whereas, a socialist party has the advantage because its interest and actions do not revolve around this or that section of the working class, but of the working class as a whole. And it functions as the instrument to "take hold of the state machine", to seize the levers of government. Councils do not nor cannot do that. They can set themselves up as a dual power to the government or State, but the State still has the control of bureaucracy, army, police force, all forces of oppression. What has to be captured is the State itself to dismantle all this "bureaucratic-military machine". The State already exists as a class institution, the representative of the capitalist class. It exists as a creation that "administers" capitalism and thus a Socialist party must come to the fore which challenges the capitalist class in the political arena in order to seize this administration, "lop off its worst parts" and be provided with the institutions already in place to implement socialism. Now this is where councils, if they are established, could come into play.

Again, the advantage of the Party is that it is the interest of the whole class and does not, in the process, disenfranchise anyone. The working class needs a political organisation, not one segmented on the basis of how industry is set up under capitalism. An organisation of Socialists is needed. As it grows then the dynamic of the class struggle changes and goes off into new directions. We cannot see a council system now, or an industrial union
system like the IWW advocates providing the same. The latter organisational forms are determined themselves by capitalist industry and are not necessarily the ideal forms for socialist construction. Both they and Workers councils disenfranchise those sectors of the population not organised into industrial unions or councils.

I don't want this contribution to appear that the SPGB and WSM are without faults. We are only too painfully aware of them as Marx was about the boils on his bum. We are more or less invisible to the working class because too often we are an organisation on the outside looking in. We look upon workers' self-organisation (for reforms, for wage rises, or whatever) and we say "It doesn't go far enough! They're not advocating socialism. Don't they understand that socialism is the solution?" and then we step back from the real struggle in front of our us for fear that either we will be tainted with the smudge of reformism or that somehow will recreate the interventionism of the Leninists (an earlier contributer to the thread indicatd as much). Perhaps a grain of truth in that but i would assert that it is to be with the approach and attitude which requires addressing and not the content or validity of SPGB thought and principles. Where we as a political party and movement often fail is in our own activism, in not "being there" with the working class, alongside them, when it is fighting its battles - that invisibility again! One cannot talk with workers unless one is WITH them. It is not enough to be one OF them. What we have to be is the movement (as i earlier quoted in another post) the group which points out the way, which "pushes forward". With the SPGB by focussing mainly only on the "end aim", the role of the "movement" itself has been neglected. I hold my hands up and plead guilty. But if the revolution is a process, the SPGB is going to be part of the process and will certainly not be the unmoving monument it's made out to be, since it too evolves and has done so and will again.

slothjabber
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Jun 6 2011 10:29
ajjohnstone wrote:
Do the anarchists/council communists go to the West Lothian or Edinburgh socialist discussion meetings hosted by the SPGB that is even held at the ACE premises?

I can't speak for other members of the SPGB ...

If you can't speak for members of your own organisation, then I certainly can't speak for people who are not in any organisation I'm a member of; furthermore, I haven't heard of any Anarchists or Council Communists from the Lothians who are bemoaning the lack of discussion groups - if I do, I'll try to remember to point them at yours. What I do know is that there have been people (comrades from the former Communist Bulletin Group for example) who have travelled from Edinburgh to participate in the MDF.

ajjohnstone wrote:
...
(were they invited? were they welcome? were they aware of the open format of the meetings that permits them an input? did they have time as individuals to go or were they just lazy ), and I can't speak of the value of the discussion forums you mention (since i haven't attended any) but i will accept your word that they were worthwhile ventures...

The first explicit invitation to the SPGB was issued in April 2002; this led to 3 members coming to a meeting, and a few months later a small delegation (again three people if I recall correctly) attended another - August 2002 I think. Since this point the SPGB has neither sent anyone officially, nor even replied to our emails either to the Clapham Central address or the Birmingham Branch. The last time a specific invitation was issued was April 2010. After yet another 'no reply' I gave up trying. A number of our meetings have been posted on LibCom over the past 5 years; other groups have managed to send representatives to MDF meetings, including the ICC, ICT, Communist Bulletin Group, Exeter Discussion Group, Internationalist Perspectives, Manchester Class Struggle Forum, Commune and the IWW. Of those, only the IWW is larger than the SPGB, the other are in comparison tiny; in fact consulting the latest Socialist Standard I have to hand I find that in 2008 the SPGB had approximately twice as many branches in the UK as the ICC has members.

ajjohnstone wrote:
... i will pose the question on our discussion list and it will be interesting to read the reasons if anyone bothers to respond that is (as members we aren't uncritical of our own organisation).
...

But your point is a valid one - SPGB members should be involved in discussions and debates, particularly with those in our small sector, but the demise of those forums , i don't think it is necessarily the fault of the SPGB for not attending !! (some would say that that is a blessing in disguise - joke)

There must be something more to it. Why do you think there was a dearth of participants in these forums, Slothjabber, and why they eventually (or are presently in the process) of fizzling out?

No, I don't think these groups have died because the SPGB failed to attend. It's not sabotage I'm accusing you of, it's hypocrisy, weeping crocodile tears for the lack of organisations that you have done nothing to save.

Having said that, I'm glad that you are going to raise the question of these groups; perhaps something will come it, perhaps not.

Spikymike
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Jun 6 2011 10:35

Some quick points since ajj throws too much out in one post - we know about the SPGB's abillity to comment accurately on the 'passing show'!

It's precisely the issue of the relationship between class struggle, class consciousness, communist consciousness and the role of pro-revolutionary organisations that has been at issue here and it seems that our respective arguments are still crossing over each other and not really meeting. I say that because what ajj presents as a rejoinder to our/my arguments in favour of 'revolution as process' is in fact still a regurgitation of 'consciousness first - material change second' only finessed a little by moving the timeframe forward to what happens after a significant minority have aquired that thing called 'socialist or communist consciousness'. ajj says ' the movement will take on a life of it's own' but it seems not until it is already blessed as a socialist movement. As I see it there is no steady 'evolution of class consciousness' (or 'subteranean maturation of class consciousness' in similar ICC terminology) rather there is an ongoing practical class struggle throughout capitalism which interesects with capitalist competition to periodically create a material crisis and potential rupture in the everyday reproduction of capitalist social relations.
It is only in these circumstances that we have seen, and may see again, a kind of leap in class consciousness and beginnings of a communist consciousness on a mass scale. Pro-revolutionaries however have an organised role, varying in nature, at each stage of this process which is both agitational and educational.

As to the organisational forms which workers may create at different stages in the process I have previously described, then these may vary according to time, place, class composition and stage of struggle. Workers Assemblies and Workers Councils in some form or other have proved their worth at many key historical junctures but these should not become part of some frozen ideological commitment. The important point, as I tried to emphasise again in my last post, is that workers must create their own independent forms of self-organisation suited to the tasks at hand - independent that is from all the structures of the capitalist state and it's related institutions of social amanagement (such as trade unions). No party can substitute for this.

As an aside I think ajj is wrong in thinking that trotskyists believe in the spontaneous emergence of socialist consciousness.

On the matter of the Manchester Class Struggle Forum (now defunct) at least one member of Manchester SPGB did show an interest. There are separate blogs and threads which people can look up here if they want to know more. Suffice it to say that after a good start a mixture of practical problems and the, perhaps inevitable, prior commitment of people to their own small groups, interest waned to the point where meetings had to be abandoned.

I still think such forums have a function at certain points even if they are no substitute for more traditional and permanent 'party' forms of organisation.

ajjohnstone
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Jun 7 2011 13:23

Some may find this extract of interest in this debate:-

Quote:
The Socialist Party, though, maintains its intention to send delegates to parliament. Not as leaders, but as servants of the cause - with a specific job to do. The very minimum we could expect of a small number of socialist MPs is that they use the resources of parliament to uncover as much detail and information as they can about what is happening under capitalism to the working class. The machinery of government collects vast reams of data in the course of its daily business, but data is worthless unless it is put into context and turned into information.
They could add to this by using the weapon of the parliamentary question, to try and force the government to give up more information and to ensure that it has an incentive to collect the relevant data in order to be able to answer such questions. This would have the added advantage of giving the opportunity of getting our agenda onto the television and other media.
Whilst the votes of a small handful of MPs may not matter overall, their voices also would carry weight - and socialists in parliament would be able to put the case for socialism alongside defending the interests of the working class in their day to day struggle - such as during any major strikes or the like. This would allow us to expose the sitting MPs of the capitalist parties and assist workers in rallying to the cause of their class - a platform from which to speak to the whole world.
Moreover, we would use whatever votes we would have while a minority to vote in the interests of the working class. This would not be something for the still small conscience of our delegates but a matter for our movement to decide and instruct them upon - a means of being grit in the parliamentary machine as well as one of demonstrating our greater democratic legitimacy. The growth of the socialist movement is the advance of the working class movement. Until such time as the movement is able to take control of the whole of society, we will push for our common interests. Not with some plan of making capitalism work for us, or with a set of reforms in mind but as a mill stone round the neck of capital...
...Going to Parliament is not the act of good boys but of rebels fighting canny.
http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/jul06/text/page8.html
Spikymike
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Jun 7 2011 16:37

Coincidentally I noticed that the text 'Communisation - Troploin' popped up in the recent 'bookmarks' list.

This seems to me to be an easily readable summary of what 'communism' is all about that I find myself largely in agreement with. It relates particularly back to my post No 79 and my reference in ajj's post 82 on this thread.

Well worth a read.

robbo203
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Jun 8 2011 08:04
Zanthorus wrote:
Harrison Myers,

I am not against 'spreading the message'. What I am against is the idea that this is somehow necessary for a revolution to occur. This leads to all kinds of illusions. The fact is that even after the working-class has seized political power communist consciousness will most likely be the propery of a minority of the class, however sizeable. The SPGB imagine, on the contrary, that first of all the working-class will have to have had 'the message' drilled into them through propaganda before we can do anything.

This, I'm afraid, is a recipe for the continuation of class society in another form. If only a minority of the working class are conscious communists then there is simply no way you can have communism. None at all. By default, if not by design, then, you will be stuck with capitalism. The inevitable result will be that that those who seized power in the name of the working class will become a new ruling class that, willy nilly, will come to operate against the interests of the former. Capitalism can only be run in the interests of capital, after all, and not wage labour.

So the SPGB is absolutely spot on to emphasise the need, first of all , for the mass of workers to become communist (or socialist) minded before you can have communism (socialism) and that it is pointless even trying to seize power before that unless you want to become just another party for capitalism. The more interesting question, however, is how do workers become communist minded?

I dont think it is fair to say that the SPGB sees this as happening solely through propaganda and spreading the message. Material circumstances also play a very important, indeed crucial, role. However, it is wrong to see this in starkly dichotomous terms: class struggle throws up ideas but ideas also, in turn , react upon and help to shape the form of class struggle itself and invest with a greater degree of militancy and directionality . Some critics of the SPGB fail to regnise the importance of this latter point and resort to a crudelly reductionist or determinstic model of change. My (long standing) criticism of the SPGB is not that if fails to give due weight or importance of material considerations - because this is untrue as anyone who reads their material would know - but rather the narrowness with which they conceive such material considerations to be.

In my view, the achievement of majority socialist/communist consciousness depends not just on socialist propaganda interacting with class struggle but also on the direct experience of unmediated or non-commodified relations as a consciously preconfigurative instance of future communist society. Communism is not just, negatively speaking, a rejection of capitalism and capitalist values; it also, positively speaking, stands for something, the essence of which needs to be felt or experienced in practice (to however limited an extent to begin with), in order to gain the necessary confidence to do away with the market completely. This, I think, is an area where the SPGB's model of the revolutionary transformation of society shows a remarkably soft underbelly, in my opinion

Finally, I think a lot of confusion about what needs to be done hinges on the word "revolution". To me, the mere seizure of power by the working class does not signify (yet) a revolution. A revolution denotes a fundamental change in the socio-economic basis of society and unless and until this happens, one cannot reasonably talk about a revolution having happened. The process of bringing about that change may be protracted or swift but, ultimately, the fact of a revolution is confirmed or negated by what happens at the material or institutional level of how individuals fundamentally relate to the means of production and not by the rhetoric surounding such a revolution.

Thus, for example, in Russia in 1917 a revolution undoubtedly took place but a materialist analysis of the outcome of said revolution shows it to have been a capitalist revolution -nothwithstanding the sentiments expressed by people like Lenin that what took place was a "socialist" revolution. Many modern leftists who consider themselves to be "materialists" and to give due weight to material factors rather than idealistic political rhetoric seem to have abandoned this approach completely and to have been taken in by the socialistic rhetoric of the Bolsheviks when it comes to assessing the real import of the Russian Revolution

slothjabber
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Jun 8 2011 23:53

Is it possible to split off some posts from this thread (eg 82, 83, 91, 92, 95, the end of 96) into a seperate thread about discussion groups?

Or would that be too weird?

Dave B
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Jun 9 2011 19:02

Without wanting to drift too off the thread; Robbo you are being unfair on Lenin and are tending to misrepresent him, as others do, by appearing to suggest that Lenin deviated from Marxist and his own orthodoxy in attempting to introduce socialism in a backward country like Russia.

And avoid the inevitable development of capitalism.

He introduced state capitalism, as he kept telling people over and over again to the cloth eared and childish with a petty bourgeois mentality.

Give the guy a break!

It is unfair to accuse him of;

Quote:
Pipe-dreaming about a “different” way to socialism other than that which leads, through the further development of capitalism, through large-scale, machine, capitalist production…. in Russia.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1914/jun/19.htm

That was also his position in 1905 in his two tactics and he steadfastly stuck to it with a commendable theoretical consistency. And his;

Quote:
Marxism has irrevocably broken with the ravings of the Narodniks and the anarchists to the effect that Russia, for instance, can avoid capitalist development, jump out of capitalism, or skip over it and proceed along some path other than the path ……. of this same capitalism

.

http://www.marx2mao.com/Lenin/TT05.html#c6

Now you know damn well that Lenin was no reactionary and never opposed the introduction, of the albeit state capitalism, in Russia.

Unfortunately for you there is no going back on that now as it is all on record in the Robbo203 posts on Revleft, which I can find if you choose to deny it.

The idea of a ‘do it yourself’ (state) capitalist revolution was merely a nuanced and subtle development of the idea; and is a political rather than a theoretical and materialist change of theory

What is baffling, without wanting to engage in orthodox marxism versus Berkman war, was what was going on in Alexander’s head when he came up with the insightful questions in 1922, a bit late, like;

Quote:
Is this, then, the system of proletarian dictatorship or State capitalism?

..

Quote:
The road of Bolshevism leads to the formation of a social régime with new class antagonisms and class distinctions; it leads to State capitalism, which only the blind fanatic can consider as a transition stage toward a free society in which all class differences are abolished.

..

Quote:
We fully realise the gross error of the theoreticians of bourgeois political economy who wilfully ignore the study of [historical] evolution from the historico-social viewpoint, and stupidly confound the system of State capitalism with that of the socialist dictatorship. The Bolsheviki are quite right when the insist that the two types of socio-economic development are "diametrically opposed in their essential character." However, it were wrong and useless to pretend that such a form of industrial life as expressed in the present system of proletarian dictatorship is anything essentially different from State capitalism.

ugh!!!

Quote:
As a matter of fact, the proletarian dictatorship, as it actually exists, is in no sense different from State capitalism.

http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/anarchist_archives/bright/berkman/iish/rusrev/russianrevandcp.html

I mean I like Berkman and have a more natural affinity for his ilk than the Bolsheviks and Leninists etc.

But he was a clever bod and could read Russian and was there in 1920, so what was with this disillusionment with state capitalism gone wrong?

.

robbo203
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Jun 9 2011 22:26
Dave B wrote:
Without wanting to drift too off the thread; Robbo you are being unfair on Lenin and are tending to misrepresent him, as others do, by appearing to suggest that Lenin deviated from Marxist and his own orthodoxy in attempting to introduce socialism in a backward country like Russia.

And avoid the inevitable development of capitalism.

He introduced state capitalism, as he kept telling people over and over again to the cloth eared and childish with a petty bourgeois mentality.

Give the guy a break!
......

Now you know damn well that Lenin was no reactionary and never opposed the introduction, of the albeit state capitalism, in Russia.

Unfortunately for you there is no going back on that now as it is all on record in the Robbo203 posts on Revleft, which I can find if you choose to deny it..

Dave B

I am not quite sure what Ive done to earn this rebuff from you. I made but a single reference to Lenin in one sentence of my post. To wit:

Thus, for example, in Russia in 1917 a revolution undoubtedly took place but a materialist analysis of the outcome of said revolution shows it to have been a capitalist revolution -nothwithstanding the sentiments expressed by people like Lenin that what took place was a "socialist" revolution

Was I wrong to say that? Did Lenin claim that what happened in Russia in 1917 was a socialist revolution? YES HE DID. Here it is in black and white - from "The Immediate Tasks of the Soviet Government":


In every socialist revolution, however—and consequently in the socialist revolution in Russia which we began on October 25, 1917—the principal task of the proletariat, and of the poor peasants which it leads, is the positive or constructive work of setting up an extremely intricate and delicate system of new organisational relationships extending to the planned production and distribution of the goods required for the existence of tens of millions of people.

(http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1918/mar/x03.htm)

I am well aware of Lenin's views on state capitalism, that he did not oppose its introduction in Russia and saw it as a step forward etc etc.

Thats is besides the point though, isnt it? You can hardly talk, on the one hand, of Russia having undergone a "socialist revolution" in 1917 and, on the other, of the need to introduce state capitalism and the advantages of doing so....

That is what I was trying to say - that it was NOT a socialist revolution, but a capitalist revolution, that happened in Russia in 1917 and Lenin was being utterly inconsistent and delusional in declaring it to be a socialist revolution.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating and, in the case of Russia, the revolution there did not deliver socialism and could not therefore be called a socialist revolution

slothjabber
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Jun 10 2011 01:09

So we'll only know what a socialist revolution is after it has already stopped being a revolution (against capitalism) and has delivered socialism?

robbo203
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Jun 10 2011 06:21
slothjabber wrote:
So we'll only know what a socialist revolution is after it has already stopped being a revolution (against capitalism) and has delivered socialism?

Yes. Thats my view at any rate. The nature of a revolution is defined by its outcome, not the nature of its participants

I think Marx says something similar

If the proletariat destroys the political rule of the bourgeosie, that will only be a temporary victory, only an element in the service of the bourgeois revolution itself, as in 1794, so long as in the course of history, in its movement, the material conditions are not yet created which make necessary the abolition of the bourgeois mode of production and thus the definitive overthrow of bourgeois political rule ("Moralising Criticism and Critical Morality", 1847 http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1847/10/31.htm).

To ensure the outcome of a revolution is communism you have to have met two preconditions 1) an advanced economic/technological infrastructure 2) mass communist consciousness among the workers who want and understand what is meant by communism.

The distinctiveness of the SPGB lies in its insistence on the latter as against the various Leninist and sundry other ideologues who essentially think that communism can happen behind our backs with a wave of some magic wand

capricorn
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Jun 10 2011 08:47
robbo203 wrote:
sundry other ideologues who essentially think that communism can happen behind our backs with a wave of some magic wand

I think Keir Hardie said that socialism would come "like a thief in the night". Trotsky wrote in his History of the Russian Revolution that the workers of Petrograd woke up on the morning of 8 November to find that they had seized power.

slothjabber
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Jun 10 2011 10:12
robbo203 wrote:
...

To ensure the outcome of a revolution is communism you have to have met two preconditions 1) an advanced economic/technological infrastructure 2) mass communist consciousness among the workers who want and understand what is meant by communism.

The distinctiveness of the SPGB lies in its insistence on the latter as against the various Leninist and sundry other ideologues who essentially think that communism can happen behind our backs with a wave of some magic wand

I disagree profoundly, because I think you're you are mixing up two different things.

There is nothing 'magic' about the conception of the process of revolution that you ascribe to those other than the SPGB.

I believe the revolution 'essentially' consists of a refusal by the working class to submit to capitalism and a desire to transcend it, leading to the overthrow of states worldwide and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat, the self-organisation of the working class through the workers' councils. That does not require a 'socialist consciousness' among the working class, it requires a revolutionary consciousness, a consciousness that the working class is capable of organising society for the benefit of humanity.

The building of socialism is a process that begins after the overthrow of capitalist states, and it's primarily in the revolutionary period that the working class will come en masse to socialist consciousness, as it learns not just to act defensively but creatively and in solidarity, as capitalist relations are done away with.

The notion that someone (behind their back?) waves some magic wand is not even a caricature, it's just weird. Socialism isn't a trick, it's the working class putting into effect its own solutions to the problems that confront it in the post-revolutionary period. It is through the working class's own activity that it learns and develops.

Spikymike
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Jun 10 2011 13:15

I half agree with slothjabber in his post 106 above on 'class activity and consciousness' and a bit with robbo203 on 'prefiguration', but I consider slothjabber's (and other left com's) 'two stages theory' to be too rigid and mechanical in practice and robbo's 'prefiguration' only possible as an effective social movement in the later stages of a mass rebellion against capitalism and it's states, (rather than as isolated 'experiments' here and now, whatever other benefits they might temporarily offer their participants).

That may not be obvious from my previous posts and if that's too confusing you will have to have a read of the 'Communisation - Troploin' and related texts which I recomended previously as this discussion is otherwise becoming a bit repetitive and straining my reserves of energy.

Dave B
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Jun 10 2011 17:21

I was just joking with you Robbo, but it probably wasn’t that obvious.

The point I was trying to make was, as Lenin made it so plain that that he was introducing state capitalism because from a Marxist theory nothing else was possible in a backward feudal country. How did we ever get to the point in the first place, or over the last 80 years that it was ever anything but that from the beginning.

Although Lenin broke the cardinal Marxist 2nd international rule of a workers party participating in the running capitalism.

And for that matter what were the Anarchists or mainstream anarchists or whatever doing going along with state capitalism, or perhaps just choosing to ignore it?

Not all of them did obviously and some of them were in jail along with the Mensheviks from 1918 onwards.

I think when it comes to overthrowing capitalism it is essential to have a clear conception of something to put in its place, that is deemed workable. That involves socialism and it can only be workable if the working class are confident enough that they themselves have already developed the level of consciousness and understanding to make it work

robbo203
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Jun 10 2011 21:51
Dave B wrote:
I was just joking with you Robbo, but it probably wasn’t that obvious.

The point I was trying to make was, as Lenin made it so plain that that he was introducing state capitalism because from a Marxist theory nothing else was possible in a backward feudal country. How did we ever get to the point in the first place, or over the last 80 years that it was ever anything but that from the beginning.

Although Lenin broke the cardinal Marxist 2nd international rule of a workers party participating in the running capitalism.

And for that matter what were the Anarchists or mainstream anarchists or whatever doing going along with state capitalism, or perhaps just choosing to ignore it?

Not all of them did obviously and some of them were in jail along with the Mensheviks from 1918 onwards.

I think when it comes to overthrowing capitalism it is essential to have a clear conception of something to put in its place, that is deemed workable. That involves socialism and it can only be workable if the working class are confident enough that they themselves have already developed the level of consciousness and understanding to make it work

OK point takien. I obviously didnt realise you were joking but these days my level of sensitivity has been seriously hit by bouts of prolonged insomnia.

I totally agree with you last point and it is wporth reiterating again and again - you cant get rid ofcapitalism unless you have something to put in its place

robbo203
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Jun 10 2011 22:09
slothjabber wrote:
robbo203 wrote:
...

To ensure the outcome of a revolution is communism you have to have met two preconditions 1) an advanced economic/technological infrastructure 2) mass communist consciousness among the workers who want and understand what is meant by communism.

The distinctiveness of the SPGB lies in its insistence on the latter as against the various Leninist and sundry other ideologues who essentially think that communism can happen behind our backs with a wave of some magic wand

I disagree profoundly, because I think you're you are mixing up two different things.

There is nothing 'magic' about the conception of the process of revolution that you ascribe to those other than the SPGB.

I believe the revolution 'essentially' consists of a refusal by the working class to submit to capitalism and a desire to transcend it, leading to the overthrow of states worldwide and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat, the self-organisation of the working class through the workers' councils. That does not require a 'socialist consciousness' among the working class, it requires a revolutionary consciousness, a consciousness that the working class is capable of organising society for the benefit of humanity.

The building of socialism is a process that begins after the overthrow of capitalist states, and it's primarily in the revolutionary period that the working class will come en masse to socialist consciousness, as it learns not just to act defensively but creatively and in solidarity, as capitalist relations are done away with.

The notion that someone (behind their back?) waves some magic wand is not even a caricature, it's just weird. Socialism isn't a trick, it's the working class putting into effect its own solutions to the problems that confront it in the post-revolutionary period. It is through the working class's own activity that it learns and develops.

I disagree. It is meaningless to talk about the desire to "transcend capitalism" unless you have some idea - however vague - of an alternative to capitalism. There can be no such thing as revolutiuonary consciousness that does not ential consciousness of the society you wish to replace capitalism with. You more or less concede this point youself when you say revolutionary consciousness is a "consciousness that the working class is capable of organising society for the benefit of humanity.". That involves some notion of what is meant by society being organised for the benefit of humanity. In other words, communism

Revolutionary consciousness is communist (socialist) consciousness . Otherwise it would not be revolutuonary consciousness but mere reformist consciousness perhaps or maybe, to quote Lenin, "trade union consciousness

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AIW
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Jun 11 2011 17:37
Quote:
ajjohnstone wrote:
There are government departments such as of health and agriculture and environment which according to Trenchone will all be relegated to history and the experience and skills and knowledge of socialists within those organisations will not be utilised to tackle the problems facing the re-structuring of society and its socialisation.

No, our action of taking control of our work places will abolish all these departments but will not aboilsh the workers who work in them. Workers; in control of the means of production; did, do and will be free to follow the advice of experts but are not goverened by them. Equality can not be implemented from above!

zundap
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Jun 11 2011 21:13
AIW wrote:
Quote:
ajjohnstone wrote:
There are government departments such as of health and agriculture and environment which according to Trenchone will all be relegated to history and the experience and skills and knowledge of socialists within those organisations will not be utilised to tackle the problems facing the re-structuring of society and its socialisation.

No, our action of taking control of our work places will abolish all these departments but will not aboilsh the workers who work in them. Workers; in control of the means of production; did, do and will be free to follow the advice of experts but are not goverened by them. Equality can not be implemented from above!

You're exhibiting bourgeois consciousness here AIW, surely with the defeat of capitalism the capitalist class will cease to exist and with it the working class because it will a classless society, socialism/communism. As socialism/communism is synonymous with democracy no one will be "above" anybody, all will have the exact same relationship to the means of production and distribution, so all will share a common interest.
Those workers employed (used) in these departments are the experts so instead of being workers toiling in the interests of a parasitic class, they will be humans working for the benefit of all.
Why throw out the baby with the bathwater?

ajjohnstone
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Jun 12 2011 09:33
Quote:
"taking control of our work places"

AIW, Do you mean the civil servants taking control of their state then it would be top-down as you say ...or as non-syndicalist socialists desire - society as a whole assuming control and taking those departments and no doubt merging and adapting them into administration and information organs with their staff assistance and co-operation. Doing what they did yesterday but to-day and tomorrow for a lot different motives. Imagine the Royal Engineers or Corp of Transport,or REME or Corp of Signals being deployed in disasters or undeveloped parts of the world, no doubt their will be no more officers and rank distinctions ( but certainly there would still exist skill and knowledge differences - the bridge laying specialists, another example being the Levee defenders in USA ) so yes a certain amount of re-structuring but in essence still the same organisation, just for a different purpose. But to be truthful i think we are on the same wave-length. Decisions like these will have no hard and fast rule and will be up to circumstances and situation. Forgetting the military but returning to the local, surely the Housing Department/Social Work Dept workers in the council will have planned and prepared to make homelessness a thing of the past having in their possession all the facts and figures but it would not be in isolation from the rest of the community, since it will also involve builders and carpenters and furniture suppliers as well as local geographers and environmentalists. Therefore, there will exist decision making bodies on a larger and wider scale than solely the work-place or even occupation/industry

The SPGB doesn't promote a dictatorship of experts or the immovable division of labour "Chernobyl ... is a price being paid partly because the world has trusted technical experts too much."