For Steven. - How is the WSM soft on nationalism?

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Jan 5 2007 17:21
John. wrote:
Why would I bother saying this on an anarchist discussion board?

Well I did say this or any other board! More seriously I expected this response and the answer is obvious. Why would you bother calling the IRA murdering bastards here either? It's not like LibCom is over run by IRA supporters! Your using the emotive nationalist language of The Sun in an effort to demonstrate how oppposed you are to Irish nationalism on a board more frequented by people living in Britian. Of course I'm going to point this out. You should give it some thought because me pointing isn't the problem here.

As for the rest you are again wanting to push this into a semantic debate about what words mean. I willl give you that I paraphrased you rather than quoting you exactly. On the other hand you seem to have forgotten the Irish examples I also gave you.

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Jan 5 2007 17:33
revol68 wrote:
Actually Joe I think none of us would have a problem describing the british army as murderous bastards, yet we don't think it's useful to call individual ordinary soldiers murdering bastards.

I'm not arguing it would be useful - in fact I'm pretty much arguing this 'muderous bastards' approach is not politically useful and if applied in a one sided manner appears to be in itself nationalist. I find the lack of self awareness of what seems like a very obvious problem to me strange but I suspect in part its down to people not having proper discussions on these issues but simply slipping into silly hard v soft shorthand.

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Jan 5 2007 17:44
revol68 wrote:
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silly hard v soft shorthand.

I'd be happier if you didn't derail threads with discussion of your masturbation techniques.

You snipped that quote too soon, it would have worked better if you included 'slippping into' as well. But I'm also getting the giggles whenever I see another poster going on about how hard they are and how this is much better than being soft.

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Jan 5 2007 18:15

Just on the organisation vs movment thing. I have to admit I think Joe is being unclear here.

The way i'd look at it and I suspect that this is where Joe is coming from is that a movement exists outside an organisation. So there was a republican movement in northern ireland which was dominated by nationalist organisation. We are anti-nationalist so obviously we wouldn't support the nationalist organisations, however, we would defend the wider republican movement in so far we'd oppose to 'shoot to kill', diplock courts, internment, section 31, special branch harrassment, criminalisation, collusion, extradition and the various other mechanisms the state used to try to crush the republican movement and in so far as we'd wrecognise the progressive elements of the republican movement and while criticising republicanism and nationalism.

As our position paper says

Quote:
11. Republicanism seeks to create a society where there will be a fairer division of power but where capitalism and a ruling class will continue to exist. Republicanism in Ireland and internationally contained radical democratic roots but with the development of autonomous working class politics these were relegated to the fringes in order to eliminate the threat of the working class seizing the reins during any upheavel.

12.1 Irish republicanism is now based on a practise which first seeks to unite Catholic workers with Catholic bosses in a common struggle for a united Ireland. Republicanism has considerable support among sections of the catholic working class in the north but it has no attraction for Protestant workers and has no strategy for approaching Protestant workers beyond rhetorical appeals.

12.2 However, republicanism unlike loyalism often developed significant left strands within it because, at least in theory, it was based on the 'equal rights of all' rather then the 'god given destiny of the chosen people' or the secular variations on this theme.

and

Quote:
13.1 Left republicans talk of combining the struggle to end partition and the struggle for socialism into a single struggle. But the sectarian reality of the conflict meant that whatever the rhetoric their only audience was amongst catholic workers. And they also lack any strategy for winning over protestant workers beyond hoping they will see beyond their 'false consiousness'. This would be a weak strategy in any case but coming from organisations which promote Leninist politics and are frequently seen as infested with sectarian, criminal and thuggish behaviour it is no strategy at all. Whatever variants of republicanism can be sketched in theory the history of the last decades means that the language of republicanism is not a way to initiating a meaningful dialogue with any large number of protestant workers.

13.2 In any case because of globalisation the period when republicanism represented a viable strategy is over. The integration of the world economy means there is no longer space for a small economy to go it alone without its economy collapsing.

Or in Iraq we'd defend the movement against the occupation but not the nationalist organisations that dominate it. So we'd support critically the elelments around the WCPI and The Southern Oil Workers Union.

Or in Ireland in 1919-1923 defend the national liberation movment we'd support the land seizures, the soviets, the cattle drives, the workplace seizures etc. but oppose the IRA and the republican courts and would and have blamed the IRA, the republican courts and the nationalist elements of that movement for holding back the working class elements within it.

As Joe said we could simply say that we only support the working class and never defend national liberation movements but seeing as we the working class often advances its interests through a national liberation movement then this point is really little more than semantics. The point is that we are always opposed to nationalism in and outside of national liberation movements and are always on the side of the working class in and outside of nationalist movements.

------

P.S. John. sorry my last post was a bit bitchy but would I be right in saying that you don't see any difference between the NEFAC line and the WSM line now.

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Jan 5 2007 18:27
JoeBlack2 wrote:
Felix Frost wrote:
But why can't you just support these groups on the basis of their "working class agenda". Why do you need to set up a special category for "grassroots national liberation mevements"?

Because if you debate things out in advance using honest terminology that expresses the complexity of the real world then when you have to deal with that complexety its easier to avoid opportunism and self-delusion.

eg The Basra oil workers union is clearly working class but they also clearly have a set of demands tainted by nationalism. If you have pretended this can't happpen then either you pretend not to see this reality or you cut yourself off. If you expect it then it isn't a problem.

No one is trying to claim that the Basra oil workers union is untainted by nationalism. The question is, do you support them because they are a working class organization (and despite of their nationalist ideology), or do you support them because of their "grassroots anti-imperialism".

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Jan 5 2007 18:35
Felix Frost wrote:
No one is trying to claim that the Basra oil workers union is untainted by nationalism. The question is, do you support them because they are a working class organization (and despite of their nationalist ideology), or do you support them because of their "grassroots anti-imperialism".

Well I think both. I mean all communists are all anti-imperialist and surely we all agree that the best way of opposing imperialism and advancing the cause of communism is through working class self organisation.

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Jan 5 2007 18:41
Felix Frost wrote:
No one is trying to claim that the Basra oil workers union is untainted by nationalism. The question is, do you support them because they are a working class organization (and despite of their nationalist ideology), or do you support them because of their "grassroots anti-imperialism".

More importantly how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

Leaving aside the semantics I'd say the advantage of our position is that the nationalist rhetoric of some of those demands wouldn't stand in the way of supporting them.. If we were ultras we'd probably have to go through some process of resolving whether the rhetoric outweighed the fact that they were workers. As I already said its better to debate these things out in honest terms that reflect reality rather than having to suddenly deal with the shock etc.

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Jan 5 2007 18:45

Also useful to quote our imperialism paper once more in relation to the above discussion

Quote:
14. In relation to each situation we will seek to discover and promote the anti-authoratarian strands within that struggle, particularly those that seek to organise on a class rather then national, religious or ethnic basis and win these to anarchism. We will argue that the interests of the ordinary workers of the imperialist countries lies with the promotion of such strands and not with their own rulers. We will argue for and where possible build working class resistance to the imperialist strategies of their own ruling class and direct links with those in struggle.

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Jan 5 2007 19:10
JoeBlack2 wrote:
More importantly how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

I'm sure the answer to that can also be found in one of your countless position papers.

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Jan 5 2007 19:28
Felix Frost wrote:
JoeBlack2 wrote:
More importantly how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

I'm sure the answer to that can also be found in one of your countless position papers.

Meow

I've checked but I can't find anything in the relevent one
http://www.wsm.ie/story/843

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Jan 5 2007 19:49

The thread is titled 'how is the WSM soft on nationalism' plus I'm rather fed up with people treating my musings as if they were policy. You of course being one of the bigger offenders there.

The more mechanical discussion that I've had to resort to annoys me as well - if you start a thread with a less restricting title I might try and let my hair down.

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Jan 5 2007 20:03

Have you? I confess I hadn't noticed - anyway half a dozen ultras have substituted themselves.

I also think a more open discussion might be possible if people had at least read the documents they claim to be discussing. An awful lot of the critiques posted just reveal that the poster hasn't bothered to do this.

Plus of course for the reasons I've outline I find the hard/soft dychotomy to be politically useless - indeed playing into it would be counter productive as I'm primarly interested in an effective movement with an influence on the real world rather than one convinced of its own purity. Our flaws, and I'm sure they exist, stem from our willingness to move beyond slogans and into detail, its very frustrating to constantly return to a defence of slogans.

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Jan 5 2007 21:02

Props to Joe for hanging in there. I like the WSM and appreciate the effort to articulate an anti-authoritarian/anti-capitalist anti-imperialism.

A couple brief points:

I would argue that in fact the WSM, Wayne Price, etc. are less "soft on nationalism" than the "anti-nationalist" comrades here, and here's why:

- Imperialism exists. Racism, occupation, genocide. This is real. The sections of the working-classes that bare the brunt don't have to debate the merits of position papers, they historically have taken it upon themselves to organize against this oppression. In most cases (as in most cases of Labor struggle) it has not been anarchist politics that have been the main force to emerge from these movements. The WSM, at least on paper (I'd like to know more about their practice)would like to rectify this situation. They see Nationalist politics as dead-end for these movements and seek to advance anarchist politics and practice in opposition to Nationalist ones.

The alternative being put forward seems to be that we sit these movements out and denounce them, which of course does nothing to help the life-and-death struggle against imperialism. And has the practical effect of marginalising anarchism. And of leaving Nationalist hegemony(whether right or left)unchallenged.

So comrades, who is really "soft on Nationalism"?

-Since I know how valued Amerikan opinions on Ireland are, I'll stay quiet on those specifics. But I live in the U.S. where the struggle of Black people has been central to so much of the class struggle. So let me use this as reference.

Is it really the opinion of the Organise!, AF, and Left Communist comrades that the membership of the BPP, SNCC, League of Revolutionary Black Workers, the BLA, the Deacons of Self-Defense were "anti-working-class" ?

Were the Deacons and SNCC essentially the same as the KKK death-squad/state collusion they faced ?

Isn't it significant that the first strands of African American anarchism (since the IWW's heyday) emerged from the BPP and BLA (whatever criticisms we may have of these groups or individuals)?

Let me be clear. I am not upholding the particular politics of any of these groups. I am quite critical of all of them. I also have the deepest respect for the women, men, and kids - workers, farmers, students (and gasp! small business owners and clergy) who stood up to white supremacy, many who eventually began to see Capitalism as the enemy.

My point is that this was a real "grass-roots movement" that anarchists should be/been in, arguing for anarchist goals and methods, against nationalist and reformist ones.

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Jan 5 2007 21:34
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You have now completely lost me. Where has Wayne ever supported "the oppressor against the oppressed"? What are you talking about?

I'm so sorry man! I made a huge typo here. Don't type tired and in a rush. I mean to say that Wayne supports the "oppressed against the oppressor" which smacks of a Trotskyist/Maoist opportunist position. Sorry 'bout dat!

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Jan 6 2007 00:14
JB2 wrote:
Lastly I find your constant use of 'murdering bastard' type language to refer to one side of the nationalist equation only to be an example of big nation nationalism. An Irish nationalist would see British soldiers as murdering bastards. British troops in Iraq could be called murdering bastards by the same logic. I'm fairly sure you don't apply the same language to them and you should ask yourself why. They are all part of organisations that target workers as part of their war effort, why save the emotive language for just 'the other side'?

Soldiers are an extreme representation of the violence inflicted on the working class by capital are they not.

GS wrote:
So there was a republican movement in northern ireland which was dominated by nationalist organisation. We are anti-nationalist so obviously we wouldn't support the nationalist organisations, however, we would defend the wider republican movement in so far we'd oppose to 'shoot to kill', diplock courts, internment, section 31, special branch harrassment, criminalisation, collusion, extradition and the various other mechanisms the state used to try to crush the republican movement and in so far as we'd wrecognise the progressive elements of the republican movement and while criticising republicanism and nationalism.

What is the difference between a republican movement and a nationalist one? A republic would still be a capitalist state would it not?

GS wrote:
seeing as we the working class often advances its interests through a national liberation movement

Can you give an example of this please?

Wayne Price
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Jan 6 2007 06:36

Imagine my surprise to find that I was being used as one issue in a lengthy debate on the libcom list! Reading through the postings, I discovered that some people are annoyed with my federation, NEFAC, for not following Leninist-style democratic centralism--that is, not making all members speak the exact same line.

To sum up my opinion in a phrase, I do support national liberation but totally oppose the ideology (program) of nationalism. It is the unwillingness of some posters to agree that there is such a distinction which is at the heart of the dispute. Indeed, some writers do not seem to understand that I (and, I think, the WSM) do see such a difference. Folks keep on quoting comments which are anti-imperialist and pro-national liberation, and interpreting this as pro-nationalist--which does not follow at all.

Similarly, I support unions but oppose reformist unionism. I support women's liberation (in form a non-class issue) but oppose bourgeois feminism. I support African-American liberation, but oppose both nationalism and integrationism. I support Gay and Lesbian liberation but oppose reformist Gay politics. I support an antiwar movement but oppose pacifism and all liberal peace programs. And so on.

Incidently, I have always thought of my politics, at least, as being hard (revolutionary) as opposed to soft (liberal).

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Jan 6 2007 08:00

well, ıt is nice to have Wayne here to clarify his position. It is a shame though that he has the same fundemantally dishonest style of debating as Joe Black:

Quote:
Reading through the postings, I discovered that some people are annoyed with my federation, NEFAC, for not following Leninist-style democratic centralism--that is, not making all members speak the exact same line.

If we take this statement at face value, Wayne seems to be accusing those who disagree with his position of being Leninists, and wanting everybody to 'think' the same.

However, Wayne knows full well that political organisations are based around political agreement, and he knows that NEFAC too operates in that way. This is not 'making all members speak the exact same line', but is a free association based around common agreement. Surely, there are some ideas, which would put people outside of NEFAC, or is Wayne actually saying here that it is 'anarchistic' to let everyone say what they want. I think not, and this seems to me to be a very dishonest way to enter a discussion.

The real point here then is the whether opposition to national liberation movements is one of the basic positions that revolutionary organisations are built around. I, and many other people on these boards believe that it is. The WSM, and at least some people in NEFAC believe that it is not.

Devrim

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Jan 6 2007 09:36

The defenders of national liberation here are engaged in a constant slippage between two things which should be kept distinct: organisations and their trajectories and the trajectories of individual members. It's most obvious in Kdog's post, but it's also present in the constant movement in JoeBlack2's posts between 'organisations' and 'movements', which you claim are distinct but which you are not keeping separate in your arguments (eg answering John.'s request for examples of movements with examples of organisations and then turning on him for confusing organisations and movements). The key quote from Kdog is this:

Quote:
Is it really the opinion of the Organise!, AF, and Left Communist comrades that the membership of the BPP, SNCC, League of Revolutionary Black Workers, the BLA, the Deacons of Self-Defense were "anti-working-class" ?

To which the answer is obviously no, but the argument is that the organisations were, or rather in the case of black nationalism, could have been if they hadn't been smashed before they'd had time to really develop. No one's arguing that every member of the BPP or Hezbollah, or even every member of the Labour party a trade union is anti-working class. The argument is that when working class people subsume their interests to the organisational interests of national liberation organisations then they're working against themselves. There's no fault in looking at these organisations for fissures and possibilities, no fault in trying to engage and encourage more independent strands (which as you rightly argue emerged from the wreckage of the BPP), but this is not 'defending national liberation movements', anymore than going to a branch meeting is 'defending trade unionism'.

This seems to be how JoeBlack2's distinction between national liberation movements and national liberation organisations is working. On one interpretation the 'movement' simply collapses back into the broader working class and on another it collapses into national liberation organisations. The category of 'movement' as distinct from 'organisation' does not work because it cannot be kept distinct from these two things. I can't see what analytical value you get from this category, all it serves to do is confuse matters and allow in all sorts of bullshit, usually with 'critical' attached to it. Which is where the 'soft' allegation, or the 'secret regarders' tag (remember, this is an old argument, not a product 'ultra-leftists' on this board) or whatever comes from. This distinction doesn't give you any analytical advantage, it doesn't improve your understanding of the situation. What it provides is wriggle room, it lets it a range of opinions which are actually incompatible and allows them to pretend to be the same thing. Which, incidentally, is why the opinions of individual members matters more than the position papers, because the position papers rely on this distinction which is (deliberately?) vague and allows for completely opposite positions to claim to be the same thing.

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Jan 6 2007 10:27
georgestapleton wrote:
I mean all communists are all anti-imperialist and surely we all agree that the best way of opposing imperialism and advancing the cause of communism is through working class self organization.

Just to go into ultra-left mode again: While all communists might be against imperialism, this doesn't mean they are all "anti-imperialists". Anti-imperialism is a political position supporting national liberation movements opposed to imperialist powers. The proplem is that anti-imperialism isn't a solution to the ills of imperialism. On the contrary, it is part of the problem, and only leads to more war and misery.

Yes, I agree that best way of opposing imperialism and advancing the cause of communism is through working class self organisation. But I think there is a contradiction between this and supporting national liberation movements.

And I have to agree with ticking-fool's post above. It just doesn't make any sense to say that you support a national liberation movement, but are opposed to both the organizations that this movement actually consists of, as well as the actions of these organizations. And it makes even less sense if you by supporting a national libaration movement mean that you are actually opposed to almost the entire movement, with the exception of a couple of working class organizations with half decent politics that unfortunately also are influenced by national liberation ideology.

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Jan 6 2007 11:35

First off thanks to kdog who I think expressed a problem with the 'hard' v 'soft' think that I had failed to express. That is that the 'hard' approach because it is ineffective sloganeering is likely to do less to undermine a nationalist agenda.

Felix Frost wrote:
It just doesn't make any sense to say that you support a national liberation movement, but are opposed to both the organizations that this movement actually consists of, as well as the actions of these organizations.

To me this simply speaks of the consequences of failure to move off sloganeering to analysis of actual movements. The sloganeering simply lumps all organisations that may comprise a movement, plus all those who may be involved in the movement into one amorphous mass of bad nationalists.

In Iraq this means you are sticking everyone from Al Quadea, the Mahdi army and the Bath'ists to the WCPI and the Southern Oil workers unions together. This is a clear example of the value of differentiating between movements, organistions and indeed between the range of (sometimes opposed) organisation that make up a movement.

Likewise in relation to the 1916-21 period in Ireland the organisations that made up the anti-imperialist movement covered a span from mystic nutters who thought WWI a good thing to revolutionary syndicalist unions. And outside of both particular in 1918 and 1919 self organised workers seized their workplaces and declared 'soviets'.

BTW I'm quite annoyed by the dishonest refrain that there are only a couple of exceptions. As I've said twice already to discover such groups you have to do some work, you can't expect to find them in mainstream history or media. Anywhere we've looked we have found such examples - from that I conclude that they are probably quite common. Indeed kdog very easily added another half dozen from an area he is familar with, again illlustrating that general pattern. The South African comrades who have probably done more work than anyone else list many examples. We could certainly add the Korean anarchist movement of the 1930's into the equation who apppear to have led the struggle against Japanese imperialism and as a result instituted a form of libertarian communism in a sizeable liberated area.

There are almost certainly some counter examples where the leading force in a movement ruthlessly suppressed alternative tendencies, probably the leninist influenced organisations were most effective at this. But even there I suspect you'd find at the very least groups of workers and peasants who spontaenously tried to go beyond these limits.

Finally as far as I can tell no one here is advocating anti-imperialism as a solution, indeed our position paper explains why it is not. Just as a 10% wage rise is not a solution, its still something that can be struggled for and the experience of such a struggle in itself teaches the need to go further. In any case the struggle happens anyway - our intervention cannot change that, it can only hope to change the nature of what is being struggle for.

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Jan 6 2007 11:58
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As I've said twice already to discover such groups we should be supporting national liberation in any wayyou have to do some work, you can't expect to find them in mainstream history or media. Anywhere we've looked we have found such examples - from that I conclude that they are probably quite common.

Ok, so how does this work with the distinction between 'movement' and 'organisation'? Again you seem to be conflating these two apparently separate things. The concepts you're using are, as far as I can see quite deliberately, slippery and allow very different positions to claim to be the same thing. Just because every national liberation movement throws up groups who appear to have decent working class politics doesn't mean that there's anything positive in national liberation as an ideology, and the attempt to conflate these things seems to be at best sloppy and at worst dishonest.

Quote:
This is a clear example of the value of differentiating between movements, organistions and indeed between the range of (sometimes opposed) organisation that make up a movement.

But this has nothing to do with support or otherwise for national liberation movements/organisations. A few months ago myself and revol spent weeks arguing for exactly this kind of understanding in relation to Lebanon/Israel/Palestine, but neither of us accepts the slippery distinction you make between 'movement' and 'organisation'.

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Jan 6 2007 12:09
ticking_fool wrote:
Ok, so how does this work with the distinction between 'movement' and 'organisation'? Again you seem to be conflating these two apparently separate things. The concepts you're using are, as far as I can see quite deliberately, slippery and allow very different positions to claim to be the same thing

As the examples I've used show its real life that is 'slippery' - indeed my whole argument is that the neat rigid sloganeering popular in these parts might sound radical but is useless when it comes to understanding the potential of real world situations. You need more complex theory to explain more complex (or as you term it 'slipppery') situations. I'm a fan of simple theory, but only when it is accurate.

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Jan 6 2007 12:35
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As the examples I've used show its real life that is 'slippery' - indeed my whole argument is that the neat rigid sloganeering popular in these parts might sound radical but is useless when it comes to understanding the potential of real world situations. You need more complex theory to explain more complex (or as you term it 'slipppery') situations. I'm a fan of simple theory, but only when it is accurate.

Again, you're ducking the point. The distinction you make between movement and organisation does not usefully describe real life because the concept of 'movement' doesn't consistently describe anything. It either collapses into specific organisations or it collapses into the broader working class. You've demonstrated this yourself by consistently conflating specific organisations with this apparently separate concept of 'movement'. There is no middle ground between specific organisations and broader working class discontent described by the use of 'movement' here. What is achieved by using this concept is that one person can use it to talk about broad tendencies in the class, whilst another can use it to talk about specific organisations and their specific politics. It doesn't provide any clarity of understanding, instead it allows different positions to pretend to be the same thing. The term rather than the reality is slippery because it can mean fundamentally different things to different people, it conceals important political differences.

The complexity of national liberation organisations and movements is not in dispute here and the necessity of a complex understanding of these things. What's in dispute is the idea that a distinction between 'organisation' and 'movement' gives any new understanding. As far as I can see it doesn't and you really have yet to demonstrate that it does. What it does is allow for a fudge on the idea of national liberation that lets fundamentally different positions co-exist under the same banner. That is not responding to a slippery reality, that is obfuscation.

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Jan 6 2007 13:29

Welcome to Wayne Price- cheers for coming on to help clarify the debate.

Can everyone please keep this civil- it has been a good discussion so far and it would be a shame to see it spiral into uncomradeliness. It is perfectly correct to have disagreements with others' politics without needing that to transpose into unfriendliness

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Jan 6 2007 13:44
ticking_fool wrote:
Again, you're ducking the point.

Look I'm afraid i'm going to have to agree to differ with you on this. I find the terms we use useful to convey the complexity of situations, I find the simplified version not to be useful. The meanings you want to impose are one which if I suggested would weaken my ability to convey what I mean.

I think this discussion is now purely about semantics and on that terrain there is no particular right answer.

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Jan 6 2007 14:07
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Look I'm afraid i'm going to have to agree to differ with you on this.

Fair enough, but I do think that if you could give a clear example of a 'movement' rather than an 'organisation' we'd be able to get somewhere. I think I've been pretty clear about why I don't think the term describes anything that isn't covered by talking about specific organisations or more nebulous tendencies in the class.

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Jan 6 2007 14:28
ticking_fool wrote:
I do think that if you could give a clear example of a 'movement' rather than an 'organisation'

The point is that movements are not necesserly 'clear', if they were they would simply map to organisations and there would be no need for the two terms. And in any case the use of the term in the anarkismo statement probably reflected the need to refer to the complexity in the least possible space (the statement is meant to be brief).

The examples I've given of movements (land and factory seizures in Ireland in 1918-21) are probably as clear as its going to get. If you read the links posted you may get a better idea but a summary of the key point is such seizures were generally not organised by an 'organisation', were often opposed by both the straightforward nationalists and the revolutionary syndicalists but those carrying them out included members of both the armed nationalists and the revolutionary syndicalists. The very vagueness of the term movement is really the only satisfactory way you can label the organisation of the process.

On the other hand the Iraqi examples I referred to are organisations although neither define themselves primarly as being national liberation organisations. Clearly though their programs include national liberation elements and so they can be considered part of a national liberation movement. The use of movement here is even slippier as in Iraq the NLM includes organistions in military conflict with each other. Actually this isn't unique, even the Irish NLO's of the recent period had a fair share of armed feuds.

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Jan 6 2007 22:59
JoeBlack2 wrote:
To me this simply speaks of the consequences of failure to move off sloganeering to analysis of actual movements. The sloganeering simply lumps all organisations that may comprise a movement, plus all those who may be involved in the movement into one amorphous mass of bad nationalists.

In Iraq this means you are sticking everyone from Al Quadea, the Mahdi army and the Bath'ists to the WCPI and the Southern Oil workers unions together. This is a clear example of the value of differentiating between movements, organistions and indeed between the range of (sometimes opposed) organisation that make up a movement.

Actually, Joe, you are the one who is sticking all these groups together into an Iraqi "national liberation movement", which might fit your sloganeering about supporting national liberation, but is of little help in analysing actual movements. I'm pretty sure the WCPI would not see themselves as part of a movement together with Al Quaeda, the Mehdi Army and the Bath'ists. In fact, their position is that the US occupiers and the Iraqi resistance constitute two poles of international terrorism that both should be equally condemned.

Left Worker Communist Party of Iraq about the Israel-Hezbollah conflict:

Quote:
We call upon the people of Lebanon, Palestine, and Israel and all freedom loving, secular and civilized people in the Middle East and the world to stand firm against these terrorist acts by both sides of this conflict. We remind of our position that only the camp of humanity, the Third Camp, can stop this unleashed barbarity and resist these two poles of international terrorism and push them back to the margins of societies.

(from http://www.socialismnow.org)

Wayne Price about the same conflict:

Quote:
However, many have tended to equate the two sides, to treat them as equally bad, and to call for opposing the war on both sides. While there is a good deal of confusion on this issue among anarchists, it is my impression that most have failed to support the oppressed against the oppressor in this war (and in the other Middle Eastern wars).

Wayne Price
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Jan 7 2007 01:58

Speaking to the anti-national liberation/non-anti-imperialist writers: please clarify for me--is it your position that all non-working class struggles are to be rejected? including women's liberation, African-American liberation, Gay liberation, anti-war movement, etc.? or are you only against national liberation? (Of course, all struggles and issues interact and overlap with class. All subsystems of oppression are intertwined and prop each other up. Many nonclass oppressions were originally created by class exploitation, e.g. racism. Nevertheless these oppressions and issues are not simply reducible to class exploitation.)

Terry
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Joined: 1-02-06
Jan 7 2007 08:09

There is a pattern of both Joe and George citing the class struggle that went on simultaneous with the nationalist revolt which led to the formation of the wonderful independent Irish state, see for instance:

“Or in Ireland in 1919-1923 defend the national liberation movment we'd support the land seizures, the soviets, the cattle drives, the workplace seizures etc. but oppose the IRA and the republican courts and would and have blamed the IRA, the republican courts and the nationalist elements of that movement for holding back the working class elements within it.”

“I'm not sure any grassroots anti-imperialist movement ever emerged in Ireland except perhaps in a couple of brief periods, 1919-20 in the south, particular in Munster (http://www.struggle.ws/ws/ws51_munster.html) and 1969/70 in Derry (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_Derry).”

“particular in 1918 and 1919 self organised workers seized their workplaces and declared 'soviets'.”

“land and factory seizures in Ireland in 1918-21”

So would those be the same land and factory seizures which were repressed by the nationalist movement?
The same factory occupations that left republican feminist hero Countess Markievich (sp?) threatened to use the IRA against, in her capacity as Minister for Labour in the Dail government?
In fact in some instances the working class movement of the period had to form defence organisations against the IRA (in particular the Waterford agricultural labourers).
The same factory occupations which were broken up by the Free State army led by heroes of the national liberation struggle?

There were certainly some episodes of that time which fall into your “grassroots anti-imperialism” scheme e.g. the Limerick Soviet, which of course the leadership of the nationalist movement did their best to dampen down, however the fact of the matter is the IRA were under orders to oppose land seizures, and in regard to factory occupations there is clearly a pattern where they aimed at their repression - from a left, and later anti-Treatyite figure, in the Dail government through to the eventual repression at the hands of the Free State government.

The ironic thing is most of what Joe holds up as “grassroots national liberation movements” would be supported likewise by the people taking the anti-nationalist argument. To quote from the Subversion pamphlet ‘Ireland: Nationalism and Imperialism the Myths Exploded’: (http://www.af-north.org/Subversion/ireland.htm)

“Although our argument is that the Republican struggle is not in itself a struggle for working class interests, there are certain things mixed up with it that we would support. Like, for example, the 'Free Derry' 'uprising' of August 1969, when the Catholic Bogsiders organised themselves to repel attacks by Protestant marchers and the police with stones, petrol bombs and burning barricades.
This is no different to the solidarity we have expressed in the past with the working class inhabitants of inner city areas in Britain such as Toxteth , Brixton or Tottenham, when, fed up with daily police harassment on the streets and with having their homes smashed up in raids for drugs or stolen property (the like of which is part-and-parcel of everyday life for thousands of working class people in Northern Ireland), they have erupted onto the streets and temporarily driven out the police. “

Joe: “Defend is intended to represent a position of opposing state repression and opposing the political line that the troubles/sectarianism were caused by the republican movement.”

One question was there or was there not a group of people in Ireland, prior to the repression of the civil rights movement, who aimed at launching a military campaign aimed at incorporating Northern Ireland into a unitary state? If so why do they not share some of the responsibility for the Troubles?

The WSM line on Northern Ireland is to support irredentist nationalism:
To quote from their current position paper:

“As anarchists we would welcome the removal of imperialism even under such circumstances but recognise that in the short term at least it would probably deepen sectarian divisions in the northern working class.” (http://www.wsm.ie/story/804)

Even if it leads to more sectarian conflict the establishment of a unitary state is a goal in and of itself.
Basically to me the problem boils down to the fact the WSM see the issue in Northern Ireland as the fact it is part of the British state‘s territory, rather than seeing communal conflict as being the problem, indigenous to the area, and independent of the British state. Obviously a constitutional arrangement between the parties to the conflict is the optimum short term situation as this leads to a decline in communal violence. To the WSM though the core issue is what flag flies over Stormont irrespective of the amount of communal division and violence. (this position is far more nationalist than that held by most people who get called ‘nationalists’ in Ireland, north and south, that is the majority Irish ethnicity).
Irredentist nationalism being at the core of their position on Northern Ireland it remains even as the theoretical reasons for it change. Previously they held that the Northern Irish state was inherently and irreformably based on sectarian discrimination against the Catholic minority, which was the basis of communal conflict, and therefore British withdrawal was in the interests of anti-sectarianism, now it is Brits Out irrespective of the interests of anti-sectarianism. In this the new position paper is actually worse that the old one.

K-dog “Is it really the opinion of the Organise!, AF, and Left Communist comrades that the membership of the BPP, SNCC, League of Revolutionary Black Workers, the BLA, the Deacons of Self-Defense were "anti-working-class" ?”

Interesting that you conflate the struggles of a minority group in the U.S. with ‘national liberation’ movements. I’m wondering does this actually give some insight into why some American anarchists end up supporting ‘national liberation’ movements, they see them as analogous with the black struggle in the US?

BTW K-dog I would actually be interested in hearing what you think of Ireland, actually it is more fair than just having me write of the U.S. . I have added the relevant parts of the AF aims and principles to the bottom of this post.
Anyways to me a ‘national liberation’ movement must be cross-class and must aim at the establishment of an independent state. Anything emanating from the black struggle which spoke of an independent state was either rhetorical or seriously utopian.
I have an interest in the historic black struggle in the U.S. so I’ll address your question as to how I see these groups. I would question why CORE and SCLC and even in a way the Black Muslims are not on the list.

The ‘nationalism’ of these groups you list was of a different order than the nationalism of a ‘national liberation’ movement, mostly it meant being autonomous from whites and sometimes the unity of all blacks (depends on the group and on the time) and sometimes generally being in some way against U.S. society rather than favouring integration into it.
I regard the autonomy and being for radical change as positives, the unity of all blacks as negatives.
While the increasing adoption of nationalist rhetoric and violent rhetoric on the part of the black struggle as it progressed through the 60s often seems like a deepening radicalisation it is actually to me a step backwards. Black Power ended up being ethnic power block politics for Black Democratic party politicians.

League of Revolutionary Black Workers was a working class organisation, in so far as it adopted nationalism this defeated it. As far as I understand it (albeit based on a very dubious Chris Harman book) parts of it aimed at replacing black management with white management and likewise with the Trade Union bureaucracy and this was its downfall (proviso - what I have just written is based on a Chris Harman book and as such maybe completely wrong).
SNCC very positive in the early days, went backwards as it adopted Black Power, a few charismatic leaders, and violent rhetoric.
BPP positive in its critique of cultural nationalism, a woeful Leninist model of organisation, strategy that ignored the employed section of the working class? (Question)
Deacons for Self Defence I only have cursory knowledge of.
The BLA I think ‘armed struggle’ type politics to be woefully retrogressive.
The black struggle in the U.S. was based on the needs of an oppressed group, and was much wider than those organisations, it was positive, nonetheless it did have the genesis within in it of an anti-working class organisation, which, supposing the U.S. society and history was quite different could have happened, but as time progressed the anti-working class potentialities can be seen in the move of blacks into positions in the state, and in racist killings carried out by black groups.
If even it could have that element it follows that actual nationalist movements could be wholly dominated by that element.

To put it in the Irish context, being against the Provos does not follow that one would have been against the civil rights movement.

I don’t think the black struggle in the U.S. is comparable with the Ba’ath party, or the NLF in Vietnam, or the FLN in Algeria, or the IRA, or Croatian nationalists in the Yugoslav civil war, Hezbollah, etc..,etc.. to me it seems like quite a different thing. Situations it is someways comparable with, like in South Africa, were also different, and it would be the correct policy to support the strikes and riots and such there, and to oppose the ANC.

The problem with the “grassroots anti-imperialism”, or “grassroots national liberation” position is it is fuzzy enough to allow for a position which takes that line on South Africa, or a line similar to I have on the black struggle in the U.S. (which I think to be a different thing anyways) AND a position which supports the most reactionary nationalist movements.

K-Dog: “Imperialism exists. Racism, occupation, genocide. This is real.”
“The sections of the working-classes that bare the brunt don't have to debate the merits of position papers, they historically have taken it upon themselves to organize against this oppression.”

The problem with this K-dog is that you don’t take into account three things
(one) there is no reason to automatically suppose a nationalist struggle is based on the resistance of sections of the working class to a specific oppression, historically they have been far more often bourgeois.
(two) Nationalist conflicts are not objectively anti-imperialist (they simply readjust the imperialist balance of power).
(three) nationalist movements are often responsible for “Racism, occupation, genocide”, so often in the process of coming to power, or once they are in power, persecuting ethnic minorities, e.g. Ukrainian nationalists slaughtered Jews, Turkish nationalists slaughtered Greeks, Kurds, and Armenians, Zionism dispossessed the Palestinians, Croats and Serbs slaughtered each other, and so on.

This is why it is right to distinguish between nationalism, national liberation movements, et al, and a a struggle of a section of the working class oppressed on an ethnic basis (irrespective of that perhaps adopting the language of nationalism as with blacks in the South Africa and the U.S. - even still one has to oppose the nationalist ideology within such a conflict as it will end up defeating the class content).
Not making that distinction is opening the door to supporting all manner of reactionary forces.

The relevant parts of the AF Aims and Principles:

“Capitalism is based on the exploitation of the working class by the ruling class. But inequality and exploitation are also expressed in terms of race, gender, sexuality, health, ability and age, and in these ways one section of the working class oppresses another. This divides us, causing a lack of class unity in struggle that benefits the ruling class. Oppressed groups are strengthened by autonomous action which challenges social and economic power relationships. To achieve our goal we must relinquish power over each other on a personal as well as a political level.

We believe that fighting racism and sexism is as important as other aspects of the class struggle. Anarchist-Communism cannot be achieved while sexism and racism still exist. In order to be effective in their struggle against their oppression both within society and within the working class, women, lesbians and gays, and black people may at times need to organise independently. However, this should be as working class people as cross-class movements hide real class differences and achieve little for them. Full emancipation cannot be achieved without the abolition of capitalism.

We are opposed to the ideology of national liberation movements which claims that there is some common interest between native bosses and the working class in face of foreign domination. We do support working class struggles against racism, genocide, ethnocide and political and economic colonialism. We oppose the creation of any new ruling class. We reject all forms of nationalism, as this only serves to redefine divisions in the international working class. The working class has no country and national boundaries must be eliminated. We seek to build an anarchist international to work with other libertarian revolutionaries throughout the world.”