What is left communism and how does it differ from anarchism?

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Sleeper
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May 29 2016 17:54
What is left communism and how does it differ from anarchism?

What is left communism and how does it differ from anarchism?

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Noah Fence
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May 29 2016 19:36

The ICT website;

http://www.leftcom.org/en

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Khawaga
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May 29 2016 20:09

Just don't ask about decadence theory unless you want to listen to a sermon or ten....

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Craftwork
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May 29 2016 20:19

Best introduction is here:
https://www.marxists.org/subject/left-wing/index.htm

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Craftwork
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Jun 23 2018 12:21

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Burgers
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May 29 2016 22:33
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left communism(s); the [Dutch-German left =]council communists, unlike the [Italian left=]Bordigists,

Way to simplistic, not all the Dutch/German left were councilists and not all the Italian left can be described as Bordigists.

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Craftwork
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Jun 23 2018 12:21

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Juan Conatz
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May 30 2016 00:32

As a simple explanation, left communism comes from a different tradition than anarchism. It is rooted in Marxism and specifically around the debates in the Comintern and Bolshevik Party. Generally when people speak about left communism, they're speaking of individuals or groups that claim some sort of organizational or ideological descent from either the Russian left communists, the Italian Left, or the Dutch-German Left (or a mixture of of elements from all 3).

The main thing is that they critiqued the Bolsheviks from the left. Within each of these 'lefts', there is a wide variety of different views and practices and one could spend a lot of time getting into that. I'm not sure what the best primer to this stuff is. My recommendation is that if you're serious about digging into this, then read the Wikipedia page, and then look up groups, individuals etc in our library on libcom. That's what I did years ago.

jojo
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May 30 2016 01:47

I think I know what left communism is (do I kid myself again?) but have to confess to not knowing what anarchism is, and so can't compare the two.

There are conrades who could tell you what left communism is. But could anyone do that for anarchism? Doesn't anarchism pride itself on not really being knowable. After all, if it could be clearly defined wouldn't it cease to be anarchism?

radicalgraffiti
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May 30 2016 01:50
jojo wrote:
I think I know what left communism is (do I kid myself again?) but have to confess to not knowing what anarchism is, and so can't compare the two.

There are conrades who could tell you what left communism is. But could anyone do that for anarchism? Doesn't anarchism pride itself on not really being knowable. After all, if it could be clearly defined wouldn't it cease to be anarchism?

no

timthelion
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Sep 10 2016 13:58

-

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Auld-bod
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May 30 2016 07:25

Tim #11
‘- Total armament, in which everyone has a gun, therefore breaking the monopoly on the use of force by whoever happens to be a ruler’

If that was true, surely the American National Rifle Association is an anarchist front. And that pacifist rat Tolstoy was deluded or just a fake.

EDIT
Sorry for the de-rail

Gulai Polye
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May 30 2016 07:41
timthelion wrote:
I would define anarchism as being the goal of having no rulers, no hierarchy and no coersion. It is an end without any known means for getting there or staying there.
.

No that is the means. Getting rid of the rulers etc. What will replace that are the ends. There are many ends in anarchism. Let me just mention 3: mutualism (market anarchism), collective anarchism communist anarchism etc.

timthelion
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Sep 10 2016 13:59

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Sharkfinn
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May 30 2016 08:09

I think there is the historical left communism, the anti-Bolshevist opposition in the third international, very distinct from anarchism. Then there is the modern internet left communism that claims historical roots in relation to the former, but from what I get from their politics, they are actually quite distinct from the old school.

The introduction & critique from the Communist League of Tampa is good: https://communistleaguetampa.org/2015/06/14/my-political-journey-on-left-communism-and-isolation-in-21st-century/

Spikymike
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May 30 2016 14:09

A longer discussion of the same question here with some useful and some irrelevant points made along the way:
http://libcom.org/forums/theory/difference-between-anarchism-left-communism-14112009

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the button
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May 31 2016 12:25

If a post on libcom takes more than three seconds to scroll past, it was written by a left communist. That's how I tell the difference, anyway.

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Agent of the In...
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May 31 2016 12:30
the button wrote:
If a post on libcom takes more than three seconds to scroll past, it was written by a left communist. That's how I tell the difference, anyway.

How about a member of the ICC?

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the button
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May 31 2016 12:48
Agent of the Fifth International wrote:
How about a member of the ICC?

That's when there's only room for three posts on a page.

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Noah Fence
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May 31 2016 13:03
the button wrote:
If a post on libcom takes more than three seconds to scroll past, it was written by a left communist. That's how I tell the difference, anyway.

Lol. I got into an email and FB discussion with a leftcom(who seemed like a very good guy, though rather serious) and his comments where incredibly long and verbose. Now you've said this I realise it's par for the course.

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the button
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May 31 2016 13:25

There's also a certain house-style which is hard to put your finger on but is definitely a thing. Key features include:

1. Writing as if the fate of the global proletariat hangs off your opinion of something Bordiga once wrote in a letter to his mum

2. Use of the word "proletarians"

3. An attitude of sorrow to the errors of your opponents

I'm sure there's more.

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Entdinglichung
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May 31 2016 14:20

sometimes, some shared historical narratives and paraphernalia (doesn't only apply to leftcoms and/or councilists) obscure the practical fact, that many groups in these currents have more in common with other groups outside this currents than with its cousins from the same family

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May 31 2016 15:23

It's important to remember that 'communists' go back to the 1914 split from the 2nd international rightists and those who voted support for their country in WWI. Figures like Kautsky had a profound influence on the thought of Lenin and many others who would take part in the post war wave, and most involved were members if the dead 2nd International.

Simon Watson
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Jun 1 2016 14:52

If you mean state communism and anarchist communism the differences are big - but not always. In practice they give rise to similar behaviour. Both are rooted in enlightenment thinking so we shouldn't be surprised when the common root reveals itself from time to time. It's when we start to resemble the fascists, Maoists, Trotskyites, Stalinists we claim to oppose we should think about where our energy and motivation is coming from. Enlightenment thinking is persuasive because it has its own self-fulfilling logic, but absolutist belief systems, can easily morph into the coercive nightmares that Orwell called "smelly little orthodoxies".

Today we have the softer sciences (sociology, anthropology and especially psychology) at our disposal and they have an important role in keeping us on the right track.

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Jun 1 2016 15:23

Isn't that what 'post-anarchism' is about - challenging the supposed 'Enlightenment' basis of anarchist thought.

Zeronowhere
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Jun 2 2016 01:38
Quote:
If a post on libcom takes more than three seconds to scroll past, it was written by a left communist. That's how I tell the difference, anyway.

Who needs James Bond when there's Devrim? He's so left communist he doesn't need a surname for snazzy introductions (except in the context of yoga.)

Quote:
Today we have the softer sciences (sociology, anthropology and especially psychology) at our disposal and they have an important role in keeping us on the right track.

These have generally been at capital's disposal, but definitely if our intent is in disposing of the demand for communism we should dispense with 'Enlightenment' thinking.

Quote:
Capital is ‘self-valorising value’ according to Marx.

What you specify following this needn't have much to do with left communism, and would generally get more traction in anarchist or SPGB circles. Left communists tend to be more orthodox to the Marxist tradition, and do not repudiate these things.

In general, anarchists hold individual liberty as a general principle, and hence diverge from certain forms of socialism, while left communists distrust struggles within capitalism on some level - though this is generally unspecified and less certain than in 'impossibilist' terms, etc. - and especially have problems with international struggles, and hence for instance came up when the Bolsheviks tried to navigate the hostile forces surrounding them early on. They were generally pro-Bolshevik on a more fundamental level, but in a sense defined as more a historical tendency than a specific platform. In general, they were actually milder on most such questions - when it comes to domestic affairs - than earlier communists, and hence were in a sense an assimilation of this towards the 'Leninist' or Bernsteinian modes.

Simon Watson
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Jun 2 2016 01:47

er...probably....having had a quick read of "post-anarchism" on Wikipedia (for what it's worth) I would say it's pretty similar to what I had in mind. Saying that, I had the broader scope of anarchist socialism in mind. Chomsky argues (convincingly) that anarchism without socialism is nonsensical. However, the argument that classical anarchism yoked to industry (Zerzan), and violence (Ellul) is also a non-starter and will lead it into grim outcomes - or just get stuck in analysis.

Out best critics are probably the regular folk who dislike capitalism, but suffer it as the lesser evil. The public has a collective memory that recalls the horrors of the reformation and medieval Catholicism (the "roots of the enlightenment" if you like) that separated ideology from human kindness and turned primitive Christianity into something coercive. My hunch is they smell the same anti-libertarian spirit at work in classical anarchism that existed in medieval Europe, fascism and statist-communism.

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Chilli Sauce
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Jun 2 2016 03:37
Simon Watson wrote:
If you mean state communism and anarchist communism the differences are big - but not always. In practice they give rise to similar behaviour. Both are rooted in enlightenment thinking so we shouldn't be surprised when the common root reveals itself from time to time. It's when we start to resemble the fascists, Maoists, Trotskyites, Stalinists we claim to oppose we should think about where our energy and motivation is coming from. Enlightenment thinking is persuasive because it has its own self-fulfilling logic, but absolutist belief systems, can easily morph into the coercive nightmares that Orwell called "smelly little orthodoxies".

Today we have the softer sciences (sociology, anthropology and especially psychology) at our disposal and they have an important role in keeping us on the right track.

So I can't say I agree with much in your last few posts - when have "we" started to resemble fascists? - but is it possible to separate any of the sciences from the enlightenment?

Also, the long memory going back to the medieval Catholocism? The collective memory barely seems to stretch back to the period of class defeat prior to the 1980s - I'm not sure the reformation or the enlightenment is even a blip on the radar!

Zeronowhere
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Jun 2 2016 10:27
Simon Watson wrote:
Out best critics are probably the regular folk who dislike capitalism, but suffer it as the lesser evil. The public has a collective memory that recalls the horrors of the reformation and medieval Catholicism (the "roots of the enlightenment" if you like) that separated ideology from human kindness and turned primitive Christianity into something coercive. My hunch is they smell the same anti-libertarian spirit at work in classical anarchism that existed in medieval Europe, fascism and statist-communism.

In general, that's just another blow for 'human kindness' as an arbiter of anything. It's not just the class system any more - where, agreed, people were usually class-collaborationist in orientation (which orientation might be what you mean by 'out'). You mean that they're apologists for capitalism over communism or anarchism, apparently? That doesn't give them credence over things associated with communism in some form. The impulses leading them away from socialism - within or rather, usually, concerning the socialist movement - do not get much credence from their leading towards capital or being capitalistic. This rather makes just paraphrasing such things suspect.

Wouldn't it be great if we could usually determine socialism by letting people who support capitalism (as a 'lesser of two evils' - as if they consider feudalism an option) do this instead, it's like creating moles where there are none. Acne, although it usually wouldn't lead people to anarchism in the first place. Usually, you'd find that people who support capitalism - and haven't somehow gone from being left communists by default to supporting capitalism due to some 'benign impulse,' which it is clearly not - work within the categories of capital, and consider things from within these categories as well, or they could not support it given what it is compared to socialism and etc., and hence cannot actually comprehend socialism fully let alone 'nit-pick' it. They are not, then, good critics, as a general category, let alone exceptional ones.

Hence, suspiciously, whether or not they believe as well as capitalism being better that - slightly less incredulously - women in ponds distributing swords is a basis for a system of government, they will tend to only be able to deal with or criticise communism in essentially class-collaborationist terms. Of course, an extension of this is that class-collaborationism must imply including these communists within such a harmonious society, or in brief trying to subsume or assimilate this communism to such categories of this society. This meant that they always had a tacit interest in keeping communism monitored by such things, sometimes directly or within the movement, so that it couldn't evolve its own directions. We would generally have done better to have not listened to these or filtered ourselves by every interest in the given society.

Sleeper
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Jun 2 2016 20:12

Ok so far I realise left communism and left communists are basically authoritarians who realised that the russians - lenin, trotsky and stalin were not going to deliver what they wanted. Do they have a valid criticism of what was done to the anarchists at this time?

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Jun 23 2018 12:21

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