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The SWP on anarchism, John Molyneux speaking at Marxism 2012

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RedHughs
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Sep 24 2012 18:17
AN wrote:
Maybe if Red Hughs is sufficiently ignored, he can go start a separate thread again in the administrative feedback forum to whine and bitch about how people like Andy are allowed to post here.

Oh so this is bothering you...

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cantdocartwheels
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Sep 25 2012 06:55

Depressing as it is to find myself agreeig with AN, given that you'll run into the SWP on a lot of demo's and strikes/pickets, if mere contact with them on a message board gets you frothing at the mouth i'd suggest you need to get out more.

As for the molyneux thing, well again whats new? Its a bog standard critique of anarchism, we've all read dozens smilar by sp, swp, awl, wp, cpgb, sa, ibt, sparts etc etc.
As usual theres some fair criticisms buried somewhere in it but its mostly a mix between political differences and some oft repeated strawman/hack arguements. I really don;t see why everyones so fussed.
And yeah obv a swappie or two posts here, i'd assume a fair few also use the library or read the boards, its not exactly a shocker....

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Cooked
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Sep 25 2012 10:09

Angelus your name seems to appear on every geeky history thread? I'm quite surprised to hear your rather extreme view on history considering that track record. It makes no sense to me.

I could be mixing people up, but I've definately put you in the "group" who are active on the most obscure (irrelevant?) history threads. Calling it theory doesn't help much.

As I've mentioned before it's interesting how peoples interests, politics and apparent personalities match so well. It seems people of dubious politics enjoy quoting and basing arguments on beards/obscure texts more that others.

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Steven.
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Sep 25 2012 10:37

Apologies, I have only just seen this thread. Angelus, flaming is not permitted on the site so please cease your personal insults towards Redhughs. You can still make political points without being rude.

Angelus Novus
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Sep 25 2012 10:55
Cooked wrote:
I could be mixing people up

Yep, you're mixing people up. I hardly ever venture outside of the theory forum, and within the theory forum, I usually post on things like value-theory or Capital exegesis. Occasionally, if somebody has a question related to Germany, I'll contribute as well.

Nice try, though.

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georgestapleton
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Sep 26 2012 10:38
Quote:
It seems people of dubious politics enjoy quoting and basing arguments on beards/obscure texts more that others.

You are aware that relative to the vast majority of the population this describes every single person who posts on, or reads, libcom.

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Cooked
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Sep 26 2012 11:53
georgestapleton wrote:
Quote:
It seems people of dubious politics enjoy quoting and basing arguments on beards/obscure texts more that others.

You are aware that relative to the vast majority of the population this describes every single person who posts on, or reads, libcom.

smile I planned to add a smiley and a joke about future post rev security services rounding quoters up to my previous post. Got interrupted. Nevertheless I do find it interesting that how you relate to history, beards and how you argue your case maps so well to your politics (unspecific you, not Georgestapleton)

I guess it boils down to Bakunins criticism of Marx (and weirdly nationalistically germans) in Anarchy and Statism. Dangerous generalisations for sure.

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Cooked
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Sep 26 2012 12:12
Angelus Novus wrote:
Cooked wrote:
I could be mixing people up

Yep, you're mixing people up. I hardly ever venture outside of the theory forum, and within the theory forum, I usually post on things like value-theory or Capital exegesis. Occasionally, if somebody has a question related to Germany, I'll contribute as well.

Nice try, though.

Cooked wrote:
the most obscure (irrelevant?) history threads. Calling it theory doesn't help much.

Sorry didn't intend a personal attack by history geek accusation, and off the top of my head I cant remember you ever supporting authoritarianism in a obvious way. It's just that a bunch of people are "coming out" smile as less libertarian and they are largely the same people who are mucking about in the Theory (history) forum sans some of the more characterful types (mciver). Ocelots point about selective history readings also stands.

As mentioned in some other thread the safe theory discussion about WITB reveals some dodgy politics which go almost unnoticed.

I'm by no means anti-intellectual or trying to discourage theory discussions it's the content.

andy g
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Sep 26 2012 13:21
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As mentioned in some other thread the safe theory discussion about WITB reveals some dodgy politics which go almost unnoticed.

hmmmm.... it seems to me that the implication of this is that you see the validity of an argument is being a function of the affiliations of the person putting it. looks like others do too from the outrage greeting my "failure" to declare my party politics before expressing an opinion on anything.

Quote:
I'm by no means anti-intellectual or trying to discourage theory discussions it's the content

hmmmm again..... wouldn't wish to attribute anti-intellectualism to you. this seems to imply that my posts on, say, Heinrich or the neutrality of science are problematic because of my SWP membership rather than their content. If this isn't an attempt to limit theory discussions I'm not sure what is. Would me joining SolFed or something make what I posted "better"? Or do you think I'm stupid enough to be mounting a "poaching" operation!?!?!?!! (the corollary of which is, of course, a belief that other posters are too thick to realise they are being duped)

As for not posting outside the "theory" forum - do you scrutinise all members in this way? FWIW I have posted in the UK Forum a few times on anti-fascist issues local to my area. Pray tell, how many times do I have to do so to make you feel better?!

Angelus Novus
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Sep 26 2012 13:49
Cooked wrote:
Sorry didn't intend a personal attack by history geek accusation, and off the top of my head I cant remember you ever supporting authoritarianism in a obvious way. It's just that a bunch of people are "coming out" smile as less libertarian

What does the phrase "less libertarian" even mean in this context? I'm not a "Bolshevik", nor do I belong to any such formation.

If somebody wants to call me a "reformist", I think that's at least a claim with a legitimate argumentative basis (though wrong, IMHO), since I'm a member of large electoral party. But then again, so what? Chomsky is a member of DSA. C.L.R. James was a member of the Labour Party. Would you question their participation on Libcom forums?

It's ironic to accuse me of being "less libertarian" for arguing for the freedom of an SWP member to post on a forum without being subject to a litmus test!

There's an old joke about how the worst Jesuits are the Protestants. Could it be that the worst Bolsheviks are the Anarchists?

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Croy
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Sep 26 2012 15:30
Angelus Novus wrote:

If somebody wants to call me a "reformist", I think that's at least a claim with a legitimate argumentative basis (though wrong, IMHO), since I'm a member of large electoral party.

Which one ?

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ocelot
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Sep 26 2012 15:41

roll eyes Doesn't anybody pay attention this days? - Die Linke. Also I'm still kinda nonplussed that people hadn't realised andy g was SWP, it's not like he particularly hid it or anything. Although, nor is it that he particularly followed the party line on questions of theory.

edit: I blame the X-box, or something...

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Sep 26 2012 15:44
andy g wrote:
hmmmm.... it seems to me that the implication of this is that you see the validity of an argument is being a function of the affiliations of the person putting it.

I was trying to say that politics shape what issues we find interesting and that certain history/theory discussions and the accompanying type of arguments tend to attract people who are on the "less libertarian" spectrum of the libcom users.

andy g wrote:
If this isn't an attempt to limit theory discussions I'm not sure what is. Would me joining SolFed or something make what I posted "better"?

It's not an attempt to limit discussion or purge the impure. I made an observation about the political content hidden behind quotes and interpretations of history in the theory forum. And how users active on those threads and rather quiet on other issues are on the "less libertarian" spectrum (sounds like a diagnosis) Someone else brought it up that views that would be very strongly argued against in other forums slip through when the nerdery* becomes to intense. There seems to be a lot of ex swappies on libcom and in the main orgs and I doubt many people here are that rabidly against individual members. I wouldn't worry about getting ostracised or anything like that, but I could be wrong.

andy g wrote:
As for not posting outside the "theory" forum - do you scrutinise all members in this way? FWIW I have posted in the UK Forum a few times on anti-fascist issues local to my area. Pray tell, how many times do I have to do so to make you feel better?!

It was an observation up for discussion. I'm not saying your contributions are less worthy or anything like that. Especially since mine are generally banal.

* I'm not using nerdery as a derogatory term but as a description of singleminded focus on obscure topics.

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Sep 26 2012 16:12
Angelus Novus wrote:
What does the phrase "less libertarian" even mean in this context? I'm not a "Bolshevik", nor do I belong to any such formation.

Ok what about "less anarchist". I'm using less to point out the relative scale and that I'm assuming people here are still on the libertarian scale. It's not a big deal but you must be aware that being a member of a electoral party is not something libertarian communists usually argue for.

Angelus Novus wrote:
But then again, so what? Chomsky is a member of DSA. C.L.R. James was a member of the Labour Party. Would you question their participation on Libcom forums?

I honestly can't understand why you think I'm questioning your participation? I haven't even accused you of posting crap although I can say now that the history is irrelevant when it's about Kronstadt stuff above is dodgly to say the least.

Angelus Novus wrote:
It's ironic to accuse me of being "less libertarian" for arguing for the freedom of an SWP member to post on a forum without being subject to a litmus test!

I don't think anyone has attemted to ban or argued for the banning of andy-g. This issue is clearly sensitive as I can't follow your conclusions which seems based on some fear that I'm not sure exists.

As ocelot says your affiliations are sort of known or understood (mine are I'd imagine unknown) and most are ok with it. Getting some flac for in on a libcom site should be a no brainer? See the Soapy hungerstrike debacle for an example of how other political "missteps" are reacted to. If you consider how central to the politics the two issues are I'd say you Kronstadt deniers are let of the hook rather easily.

Caiman del Barrio
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Sep 26 2012 16:27
andy g wrote:
Would me joining SolFed make what I posted "better"?

yes.

andy g
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Sep 26 2012 16:58

cheers, Caiman, at least I know now!

Angelus Novus
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Sep 26 2012 17:15
Cooked wrote:
I'd say you Kronstadt deniers are let of the hook rather easily.

I think you have severe reading comprehension problems if you manage to conflate "I don't know anything/haven't read anything about Kronstadt" with "I deny Kronstadt happened."

Angelus Novus
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Sep 26 2012 17:24

P.S.

Cooked wrote:
Ok what about "less anarchist". I'm using less to point out the relative scale and that I'm assuming people here are still on the libertarian scale. It's not a big deal but you must be aware that being a member of a electoral party is not something libertarian communists usually argue for.

Depends on what aspects of anarchism one is interested in. I'm less interested in those aspects of anarchism that fetishize specific organizational forms (i.e. anarchist unions vs. mass unions, electoral abstention vs. electoral participation), since these are merely the shibboleths of a particular wing of a workers movement that no longer exists, and more interested in the aspects of anarchism that interest somebody like Chomsky: emphasis on self-activity, a critique of authoritarian and bureaucratic tendencies in the historical socialist and workers movement, safeguarding and maintaining liberal democratic freedoms in a communist society, anti-nationalism, etc.

Also, libcom types tend to be interested in Capital, which is often sadly not the case with orthodox Marxists, who are only interested in Marxism (in which Capital is relegated to a secondary role in a broader Marxist worldview). These days too many Marxist discussion forums are dominated by discussions on what "position" of "support" to take regarding which particular band of armed combatants in North Africa and/or the Middle East.

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Cooked
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Sep 26 2012 17:43
Angelus Novus wrote:
Depends on what aspects of anarchism one is interested in.
...
emphasis on self-activity, a critique of authoritarian and bureaucratic tendencies in the historical socialist and workers movement, safeguarding and maintaining liberal democratic freedoms in a communist society, anti-nationalism, etc.

Caiman del Barrio
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Sep 26 2012 18:31
andy g wrote:
cheers, Caiman, at least I know now!

TBH beyond my flippancy, you joining SF would probably make your posts even worse cos then we'd have them quoted back at us as 'A MEMBER OF YOUR ORG SAID...' (which btw is the MOST DISINGENUOUS method of debate I've ever encountered).

Still, you're welcome to jump ship if you ever get sick of the Galloway/Islamist/popular front worship and selling papers. wink

andy g
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Sep 26 2012 19:23

will bear that in mind - now, where did I put my Gorgeous George face mask......?

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Sep 26 2012 20:36
Angelus Novus wrote:
There's an old joke about how the worst Jesuits are the Protestants. Could it be that the worst Bolsheviks are the Anarchists?

If you don't know what Bolshevism or anarchism is/was then yes, you could make this claim, yes roll eyes .

I have personally learnt a lot from Angelus' posts and value [sic] his contribution. Less from andy's posts, I had gathered he was less an anarchist from his incessant need to redeem the proper noun that is 'Lenin' (jokes, jokes jokes, well ... half jokes wink). Though I still find andy largely inoffensive. I'm not offended by either of their memberships in leftist parties. As has already been pointed out numerous times, at some point we have to work with these people at some point. Hey, some of my best friends are trots* grin. This is, after all, a discussion board. What fruitful discussion would we have if everyone agreed.

However it does baffle me that people remain members of these parties (I extend this bewilderment to a friend who is still a member of SPD in Germany but isn't a social democrat). Why not just leave if you don't agree with the politics of the org.?

BTW, Claiming ignorance of SWP's stance toward islamists in current egypt is disingenuous in my opinion. You can't put blinkers on and ignore the ugly bits.

OK SWP horror story coming up (just for the lols). Some local swaps recently entered a pub quiz with the name that went something like 'Kronstadt elimination squad'. REMEMBER KRONSTADT! (fwiw, I find a lot of these historical arguments to be circular and repetitive. Too much time and energy is wasted on this front).

*(this is not true by the way. None of my best friends are trots. Most of them are a-political).

radicalgraffiti
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Sep 26 2012 20:54

I think theres a definat tendency by some posters to try any prevent discussion of actual practice, history and limit things purely to abstract ideas, and i think this tendency allows more space for authoritarian politics

Angelus Novus
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Sep 26 2012 21:31
radicalgraffiti wrote:
I think theres a definat tendency by some posters to try any prevent discussion of actual practice, history and limit things purely to abstract ideas, and i think this tendency allows more space for authoritarian politics

How is anybody "preventing" any kind of discussion? Did Andy suddenly get moderator privileges or something?

Here, I'll help you: when you come to the forum, there's a little button above all the threads, slightly to the left, that says: "new thread." If you click on that, it... (wait for it) starts a new thread! About anything you want to discuss! Anything at all! (well, topically related to the sub-forum theme).

And the cool thing is, the only people who can "prevent" you from discussing are the mods, but they generally take a relaxed attitude to moderating. Win-win!

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Arbeiten
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Sep 26 2012 21:32

Your completely right RG. My last comment came across as flippant and I wasn't trying to say, 'lets stop looking at history'. What I meant was, there is a big difference between learning lessons from history ad having a pissing contest where whoever manages to get their urine highest up the wall is the person who is allowed to keep their fav historical actor's character unsullied in the eyes of a a small club of initiated. Kronstadt is usually argued in the second register rather than the first (as if 'remember kronstadt' really could help elucidate our current predicament vis-a-vis the SWP or whoever).

Angelus Novus
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Sep 26 2012 21:47
Arbeiten wrote:

However it does baffle me that people remain members of these parties (I extend this bewilderment to a friend who is still a member of SPD in Germany but isn't a social democrat). Why not just leave if you don't agree with the politics of the org.?

I never ever talk about my party membership on Libcom because I don't want to proselytize. Quite the opposite, in real life, when people ask me about my membership, I usually end up vaguely discouraging them from joining. Nonetheless, since you asked, I feel like I have to answer:

I don't disagree at all with the party I belong to, most likely because it's not a cadre or vanguard party. I am an extremely passive member (read: never go to meetings, never participate beyond paying very low monthly dues) of a mass electoral party containing multiple tendencies within it (including a self-described "libertarian socialist" current). I don't disagree with its politics at all. It supports preserving the welfare state. It opposes German military interventions abroad, and it explicitly calls for open borders for immigration in its program (the last point is sort of a big deal for me; I think it's a decisive criteria for whether anyone can be truly considered a leftist).

I also like the work the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation does, and I'm sufficiently grounded in reality to know that the majority of more-radical-than-thou extra-parliamentary groups in this country would shrivel up and die over night without the teat of Die Linke to suck at. Another reason for me to support it.

It calls for "socialism", but in really wishy-washy and indistinct ways. I don't care. I have no illusions about a parliamentary road to socialism, because that's not how socialism will come about. But I pay dues for the same reason that I pay dues to a non-socialist trade union: because I consider it in my own interests to eat three meals a day, have a roof over my head, health care, and enough disposable income for culture and leisure time. Abstract calls for "communism" while shitting on people's day-to-day needs is just so much juvenile chest-thumping to me (I don't think most Libcommers do this, just certain nihilist communist poetry writers and amateur theorists of rackets).

andy g
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Sep 27 2012 05:35
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I think theres a definat tendency by some posters to try any prevent discussion of actual practice, history and limit things purely to abstract ideas, and i think this tendency allows more space for authoritarian politics

If this is a reference to my posts on the WITBD thread then pulllleeeeeaaaaassssse! seems the appropriate response.

The point I was making there was that WITBD can be examined as a text and intervention in a political conjuncture without reference to events occurring 15 years later. Seems unproblematic to me and the OP on the thread was asking for opinions on WITBD not Kronstadt. I repeatedly said I thought Kronstadt was a "valid" subject of debate but that it was really something that should be the subject of a separate thread - again unproblematic IMHO. nothing there attempting to "prevent" anything - TBH I felt the repeated attempts to turn the discussion towards Kronstadt were an attempt to deny the original question and generally assumed the answers to questions about the linkage of WITBD and 1921 without argument (ocelot being the exception)

Quote:
I have personally learnt a lot from Angelus' posts and value [sic] his contribution. Less from andy's posts, I had gathered he was less an anarchist from his incessant need to redeem the proper noun that is 'Lenin'

I've learnt lots from Angelus too. Hardly expect my ramblings to be instructive to anyone but me (in the sense of aiding ordering my thoughts). Slightly harsh comment on my apparent "incessant need" given the posts you are talking about were in a thread on Lenin!

Quote:
OK SWP horror story coming up (just for the lols). Some local swaps recently entered a pub quiz with the name that went something like 'Kronstadt elimination squad'. REMEMBER KRONSTADT! (fwiw, I find a lot of these historical arguments to be circular and repetitive. Too much time and energy is wasted on this front).

agree with the parenthesis wholeheartedly. Team name in poor taste IMHO but there you go...

Quote:
BTW, Claiming ignorance of SWP's stance toward islamists in current egypt is disingenuous in my opinion. You can't put blinkers on and ignore the ugly bits.

This would imply dishonesty on my part - a claim I'd be interested to hear you substantiate or withdraw. FWIW I haven't been involved in any heated arguments about Egypt in the last.....well ever in fact, and haven't devoted a great deal of time and energy to discussing it. Remiss of me perhaps but hardly evidence of being disingenuous. As I said before, I've never presented myself as an official spokesperson or an advocate of the SWP line when posting here, just expressing my opinions. As was said above the "someone in you organisation once said this" polemical approach to an individual is hardly the least disingenuous itself.

Done with this one now folks - back to dastardly authoritarian machinations elsewhere twisted

Spikymike
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Sep 27 2012 12:02

Just back from a weeks break and had a look through this which seems to have run it's course frankly, but thought I'd add a few brief comments, since currently as a non-member of any political group my relationships with groups and individuals in the 'radical' political scene tend to fluctuate and shift depending on the nature of particular current debates and mainly local activities.

I was initially sympathetic to the comments which Angelus made in their early post No50 but then the accusation in their post115 that more recent relevant events such as France 68, Chile 73 and Portugal 74 ( we could add a few more to that short list) were ignored in the Libcom milieu (from both anarchist and marxist tendencies) seem more to reflect Angelus own ignorance of this milieu. Cetainly criticism (as part of a wider analysis of those events) could and has been made of the role of social democratic and trotskyist influenced political currents in all those events as in many other significant events in the class struggle. (Personally in my own past political group involvement for instance in relation to all of the above plus Poland 1980-82, the British coal miners and dockers strikes - reference my profile).

An understanding of the role of left wing parties (from social democracy to trotskyism and beyond) in consistently supporting capitalism, whether in power or in opposition, is in my opinion an essential part of an informed communist theory and practice and remains an important element of this sites activity in both library contributions and discussions, though certainly not to the exclusion of a wider class based social and economic analysis.

This does NOT interpret as regarding every member of such groups and tendencies as somehow duped, uninteligent, unable to be involved in class resistance, or irredeemably lost to rational debate and discussion and in the absense of any evidence of an organised group subversion of the function of the libcom site individuals with those political ties who post here should have their posts taken at face value and responded to with respect, (Indeed there are sometimes worse contributions from individuals who claim to be anarchists). This is an important distinction in my mind.

As a personal illustration one of my friends and regular drinking buddies is a long standing and committed member of 'Socialist Resistance' - the rebranded green, but otherwise traditional, trotskyist organisation. We manage to agree on a number of negative criticisms of aspects of capitalism and sometimes appear on the same demo's but still disagree fundamentally in every other aspect of our politics (I don't hold him personally responsible for Kronstadt!!). Then another drinking buddy in the same circle is a critical labour voting Scottish nationalist with whom I can agree on a number of other issues some of them in opposition to the first mentioned. I also have friends of various relgious pursuasions with some other limited areas of agreement. I don't think this makes me any less critical of their underlying philosophies or politics and in the present situation and level of class struggle these difference are not a barrier, though I am aware that they could be in very different circumstances. If we are unable to relate to fellow humans in this way what chance of any practical working relationships and influence with the rest of our class?

PS: And given the number of people in our milieu that have passed through various left wing political parties and groups we should welcome some honest discussion with those interested enough to be attracted to this site.

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Croy
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Sep 27 2012 13:23

Best post of the fucking thread ^

Angelus Novus
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Sep 27 2012 14:08

This probably should be split off into a new thread, since we're starting a substantive discussion and getting away from the meta-level circle jerk about the participation of some forum participants...

Spikymike wrote:
An understanding of the role of left wing parties (from social democracy to trotskyism and beyond) in consistently supporting capitalism, whether in power or in opposition, is in my opinion an essential part of an informed communist theory and practice and remains an important element of this sites activity in both library contributions and discussions, though certainly not to the exclusion of a wider class based social and economic analysis

I'd agree with this, but I think the generalization, like all generalizations, has its limits. Certainly the SPD supported capitalism -- up to and including collaboration with proto-fascists in murdering communist oppositionists -- during the November revolution of 1918, and the Bolsheviks ended up dismantling council power in favor of a state-led system of bureaucratic commodity production (state-capitalism? bureaucratic collectivism? Ticktin's "non-mode of production"? whatever).

But could the same be said of Luxemburg and Liebknecht's KPD? Of the KAPD? Would these parties have necessarily played a counter-revolutionary role as parties due to some inescapable essence of the party form, or would the relatively more advantageous conditions for revolution in Germany as opposed to Russia have allowed for a greater possibility of a non-distorted, non-authoritarian revolutionary development, even with party participation?

BTW, I guess this discussion is somewhat D&D and abstract itself, since I don't see any currently existing parties, electoral or "vanguard", growing into any kind of revolutionary force. At best, they are mass electoral, anti-neoliberal defensive formations with vague rhetorical affirmations of socialism (Die Linke, SYRIZA, NPA in France), or self-styled vanguards conducting entryism within such formations (Trots), or marginal sects peddling their own ideological shibboleths (various Bordigist and Left-Commie "parties"). Nonetheless, is there something necessarily distorting about the party form as such? Does this count for mass parties that do not see their primary focus as electoral, or are abstentionist with regards to elections, and which also reject a "vanguard" role (a hypothetical construct at this point in history, I suppose)?