The spread of Anarchistic Communes vs Socialism In One Country

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Vlad The Inhaler's picture
Vlad The Inhaler
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Apr 16 2017 11:15
The spread of Anarchistic Communes vs Socialism In One Country

Can someone explain how Anarcho Commumes would avoid the pitfalls that befell Stalinist Socialism in One Country? For example Encirclement, Isolation, Having to trade with Capitalistic societies and thus succumbing to the Law of Value.

This is assuming the altogether realistic scenario in which the formation of said Communes was piecemeal, sporadic and uneven across a territory/continent.

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Apr 16 2017 14:09

FWIW, I'm not sure many people on libcom subscribe to the idea of communes. That doesn't mean that problems of what to do in an incomplete revolutionary moment can be brushed aside, but that I don't think many people envision the goal of revolutionary activity being the creation of a series of communes.

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Apr 17 2017 22:44

I suppose what I'm trying to understand is how, for example, the CNT areas of Spain would have avoided Socialism In One Country syndrome, surrounded as they would have been on all sides by hostile, Capitalist States. Clearly Republican Spain would not have been self-sufficient in everything that they needed and so would needed to have traded with the outside world, this would have necessitated generating a surplus of goods to trade. Generating a surplus for trade, rather than use implies that the Law of Value still operates, if the Law of Value still operates then Capitalism has not been done away with, along with its inherent contradictions, conflicts and crises. If Capitalism has not been done away with it implies that at best what we would have is a Co-Op not Socialism.

Happy to have the above punched full of holes. I am, after all, here to learn.

el psy congroo
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Apr 18 2017 15:13

This is one of the most central questions of our day, no clear answer. I think disagreements on the topic are why we have milieus like communization, post-left, etc.

Re: Spain, some say the war effort of the Republicans and anarchists was terrible and is the reason for the loss. Others say not enough effort was put into spreading the social revolution. I personally tend to side with the later.

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Apr 18 2017 16:10

I mean, I think that's basically it, a revolutionary in one country is bound to fail. Luckily, (pre-) revolutionary moments don't respect national boundaries.

I imagine that any revolution will need to be defended (and, indeed, that defense could deepen the revolution - what did Orwell call the Spanish militias? The engines of the social revolution or something). But if it doesn't spread, we'll have to accept it will eventually be defeated. All things to be taken into account when deciding strategy during a revolutionary situation.

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Apr 18 2017 18:53
Quote:
Clearly Republican Spain would not have been self-sufficient in everything that they needed and so would needed to have traded with the outside world, this would have necessitated generating a surplus of goods to trade. Generating a surplus for trade, rather than use implies that the Law of Value still operates, if the Law of Value still operates then Capitalism has not been done away with, along with its inherent contradictions, conflicts and crises.

I am being anal-retentive here, but having a surplus does not mean that the law of value operates. It is only when that surplus is measured in terms of abstract labour-time and that surplus is exchanged based on that abstract temporalization that the law of value operates. It is perfectly possible to generate surpluses for trade, indeed it should be done, in a commie society.

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Apr 19 2017 10:41

I freely admit that I was never the best at the abstract economics side of things but at its simplest the surplus is that value that remains once the constant and variable Capital has been subtracted. How does an Anarchist society arrest the drive for maximisation of surplus/profit? If we are trying to trade with the Capitalist world for the barest necessities, let alone the luxuries of life, then we must have (a) a more efficient means of producing surplus, (b) a bigger surplus and smaller labour costs than them. Precisely because we are trading with an ultra-exploiting, ultra-efficient surplus generating economic system, we are drawn, inextricably into the law and logic of Capital. How would an Anarchist society avoid this conundrum? The Stalinists have one answer (to avoid the question altogether), the Trotskyists & Left-Comms have another answer (to avoid the question vis a vis the mystifications of Permanent Revolution/World Revolution - a sort of domino effect across states and colonies with entirely different levels of development by sheer force of will). The worst answer I have ever come across is the Co-Op solution which merely makes the worker his own whip handed master precisely because the imperative to generate ever more profit is contained within the premise. The same could be said of any attempt by workers to operate their own work place while existing within a Capitalist economy.

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Apr 19 2017 13:28

For those that don't know, although I'm sure most of you do, the Leninist economic defence of the Soviet Union ran along the following lines:

Large Industry (and eventually Agriculture) were collectivised/nationalised...ergo Socialism, which in contrast to actual Communism looked a lot like State Capitalism, but wasn't, because...we say so, even though Lenin explicitly called it State Capitalism.

The question is how does Anarchism overcome this. Simply calling something Socialised instead of Collectivised isn't sufficient. Even the presence of workers democracy isn't sufficient, not if production is to a large or equal extent to satisfy the market. We want an end to Capitalism not in semantic terms but in actual living terms.

el psy congroo
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Apr 19 2017 14:26

I think the whole surplus mentality is shit.

What's wrong with balance? Why do men always need more, want more? The pleasurable things in life are simple, good food, companionship, a hot bath every now and again.

Going back to the Spanish example, aside from the war and global capital, half of them basically went straight into removing capitalist social relations from their daily lives, with moderate effectiveness. You can read about it in Sam Dolgoff or Michael Seidman.

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Apr 19 2017 14:57

To transcend capitalism it is necessary to transcend the market and the wages system (the wages system is of course part of the market – the buying and selling of Labour – also known as ‘wage slavery’).
It is replaced by mutual aid and free access.

The film ‘The Heroic Tragedy’, which outlines the achievements of the Spanish revolution, demonstrates that it was not possible to attain ‘full communism’. The revolution could only ‘mark time’ (they produced their own currency) and unfortunately it was eventually destroyed by its enemies.

The two systems are totally incompatible, as ‘free communism’ has no markets/money/trade/barter, etc.

el psy congroo
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Apr 20 2017 11:55

Can you link to that film A-b? Can't find it anywhere...that's not the six-part one is it?

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Apr 20 2017 12:54

Sorry should have thought of that!

https://Vimeo.com/43639159

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Apr 20 2017 13:55
Auld-bod wrote:
The film ‘The Heroic Tragedy’, which outlines the achievements of the Spanish revolution, demonstrates that it was not possible to attain ‘full communism’. The revolution could only ‘mark time’ (they produced their own currency) and unfortunately it was eventually destroyed by its enemies.

I think you had the film "Living Utopia" in mind. "The Heroic Tragedy" is the name of a couple of articles I wrote about the Spanish revolution.

http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/socialist-standard/2010s/2016/no-1345-september-2016/heroic-tragedy-civil-war-and-social-revolution-

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Apr 20 2017 15:55

Holy smoke! You're correct!

Must have fused/confused the two things. I'll have to be more careful.

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Apr 20 2017 17:18
Quote:
I think the whole surplus mentality is shit.

What's wrong with balance? Why do men always need more, want more? The pleasurable things in life are simple, good food, companionship, a hot bath every now and again.

Well yes, if you produce a surplus for the sake of a surplus. But the fact is that stuff like coffee or tea doesn't grow everywhere, but grows in abundance in other places. Not everything can be produced locally. Hence, in those places where coffee/tea grows it makes sense to produce a surplus over and above what the local population needs and then "trade" that surplus away. Indeed, that certain locales produces a surplus and gives it away to others is sort of a principle of
communism.

But more fundamentally, it is necessary to produce a surplus at certain points of the year. For example, it makes sense to produce a lot of food in order to store it for later times. Or producing a surplus of food beyond what the direct producers needs so that we can feed doctors, teachers, binmen, etc.

So, I agree that the whole "surplus-value mentality" is shit, but not necessary surpluses per se.

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Apr 25 2017 17:50

Socialism in one country failed because it wasn't socialism at all. It was the result of the defeat of social revolutions where a capitalist, exploitative regime was consolidated and a ruling class manipulated society for it's own interests. The way to avoid socialism in one country, which I don't think is really a concern anymore given that Stalinist societies have pretty much been made obsolete, is to build a social revolution that can really get rid of the existing capitalist society and build a new one. This is of coarse is easier said than done, but this is the basic answer to the question.

The matter of "globalizing" the social revolution is the matter of building militant international movement with real links of solidarity globally.

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Apr 25 2017 18:08

I think its too easy to point at hierarchies that emerge as willingly counter-revolutionary agents, or to put it another way I don't believe that Lenin/Stalin or their cronies knew that they were restoring Capitalism and becoming a new exploiting class. That is to attribute ill motives to whomever fails to live up to our expectations.

The fact is that the Bolsheviks seemed to have genuinely believed that the world proletariat was coming to their rescue, that world revolution was imminent. They were as dismayed as everyone else, if not more so, when the cavalry failed to arrive. The subsequent degeneration was, to some extent, beyond their control in the sense that its hard to see, once they had removed all opposition and democratic levers in the name of consolidation, how they could have become anything other than what they became. They could, potentially have sacrificed themselves on the pyre of the other failed European revolutions in a vain, if heroic, attempt to kick-start them but that would have been suicide.

The question here is not about the form that the Soviet Union took. The question is whether ANY outbreak of Socialism can survive surrounded, as it will be, by hostile Capitalist states. Even an entirely democratic, horizontal Socialist community is not immune. Formulations that have sought to overcome this paradox, at least theoretically, have tended to rely on highly implausible and fanciful notions of spontaneous global or at the very least regional revolutions all happening at the same time or being triggered in some kind of domino effect. The mechanisms for this are never fully explained given the enormous social and political challenges that such a phenomena would face, like, for example, the entirely uneven and often unique social, political and economic conditions that exist across states.

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Apr 27 2017 13:34

"I think its too easy to point at hierarchies that emerge as willingly counter-revolutionary agents, or to put it another way I don't believe that Lenin/Stalin or their cronies knew that they were restoring Capitalism and becoming a new exploiting class. That is to attribute ill motives to whomever fails to live up to our expectations."

Their beliefs are pretty irrelevant. I'm speaking to what they actually did. Obviously the Bolsheviks believed that they were really creating a socialist revolution, but over time that mantra just became an ideological justification for suppressing any real chance for such.

"The fact is that the Bolsheviks seemed to have genuinely believed that the world proletariat was coming to their rescue, that world revolution was imminent. They were as dismayed as everyone else, if not more so, when the cavalry failed to arrive. The subsequent degeneration was, to some extent, beyond their control in the sense that its hard to see, once they had removed all opposition and democratic levers in the name of consolidation, how they could have become anything other than what they became. They could, potentially have sacrificed themselves on the pyre of the other failed European revolutions in a vain, if heroic, attempt to kick-start them but that would have been suicide."

The argument that the Bolsheviks had no role in the degeneration of the Russian revolution is hopelessly tenuous. It obviously wasn't all their doing. Other factors played key roles. That said, the Bolsheviks were the one's who responded to the dual power situation with workers and peasants being in power, but failing to socialize production, by nationalizing it. This ultimately condemned them to carry out capitalist development because as the owners and controllers of production they had to expand and develop it by becoming the class of exploiters themselves. The Bolsheviks theoretically could have responded to war time difficulties and isolation by putting emphasis on worker/peasant self-organization, collective control and development of production, and worker/peasant democracy, but they instead responded with repression of workers and peasants to cement themselves as the new ruling class which would lay much of the basis for Stalinist bureaucracy to come later.

"The question here is not about the form that the Soviet Union took. The question is whether ANY outbreak of Socialism can survive surrounded, as it will be, by hostile Capitalist states"

Your question included how to avoid what happened after the Russian Revolution. That's why I talked about the Soviet Union.