Left Communism & Its Ideology Now Online

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Dec 21 2007 13:20
Left Communism & Its Ideology Now Online

An article from the last Red and Black Revolution written by the sexiest and most brilliantest anarchist ever is now online.

Check it Out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Left Communism & Its Ideology
By Oisin Mac Giollamoir

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Dec 21 2007 13:34

Some discussion already here:

http://libcom.org/forums/ireland/red-black-revolution-13-28102007

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Steven.
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Dec 21 2007 13:54

can i post that to the library, with appropriate credits? then i can read as i edit. my favourite way...

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Dec 21 2007 14:15
John. wrote:
can i post that to the library, with appropriate credits? then i can read as i edit. my favourite way...

The way of the editor geek... beardiest wink

Nice one george...

Just quickly scanned this and only spotted a typo in the "strapline" - "forgoteen" not "forgotten". (You'll be making me think of my exes... tongue )

Good the way you countered the sloppy research claim... red n black star

Love

LW XX

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Dec 21 2007 14:34
Oisin Mac Giollamoir wrote:
While the Italian Left insisted on the communist program that was to be realised by the party for the working class, the Dutch-German Left insisted that the class did not need a party or program; indeed they would be obstacles to the working class realising communism.

In the Italian Left we find the communist program separated from the working class. In the Dutch-German Left we find the exact same. The difference is that the Italian Left insists on defending the communist program from impurity while the German Left insists on defending the working class.

I think that I will come back to this later, but I would just like to comment on this point which seems to be the mainstay of the conclusion. The comments on the Dutch-German left suggest that they believed that the working class needed neither a party nor a programme. However, if you google 'Programme of the KAPD', you get Programme of the Communist Workers Party of Germany (KAPD) May 1920. This sort of suggests that the Dutch-German left did actually believe that the working class needed both a party, and a programme.

What the writer does is draws on sources written in the 1930s after the revolutionary wave had passed, and some of the more 'anarchistic' members of the German left to put across the idea that there was no programme.

I am not sure if this is intellectual dishonest, or simply poor research. It does seem a bit of a weak thing to base the conclusion of the article on though.

Yes, there was immense confusion in the thirties throughout the workers' movement. When looking at the rest of the class political forces even with its mistakes the German left seems clear on the basic questions.

Devrim

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Dec 21 2007 15:46
Quote:
While I strongly approve of this sort of behaviour I wonder if this is how bakunin, durrutti or makhno would have behaved. Makhno maybe.

Course they would. They woz pimps.

Quote:
can i post that to the library, with appropriate credits? then i can read as i edit. my favourite way...

Yes, yes you can.

Quote:
I think that I will come back to this later, but I would just like to comment on this point which seems to be the mainstay of the conclusion. The comments on the Dutch-German left suggest that they believed that the working class needed neither a party nor a programme. However, if you google 'Programme of the KAPD', you get Programme of the Communist Workers Party of Germany (KAPD) May 1920. This sort of suggests that the Dutch-German left did actually believe that the working class needed both a party, and a programme.

What the writer does is draws on sources written in the 1930s after the revolutionary wave had passed, and some of the more 'anarchistic' members of the German left to put across the idea that there was no programme.

I am not sure if this is intellectual dishonest, or simply poor research. It does seem a bit of a weak thing to base the conclusion of the article on though.

Yes, there was immense confusion in the thirties throughout the workers' movement. When looking at the rest of the class political forces even with its mistakes the German left seems clear on the basic questions.

Hmmm. You might have a point here. I know what you're saying, agree with it and wasn't trying to be intellectually dishonest.

I tried to explain the german-dutch left and how they developed. I'd have liked to go into its development in more detail but the article runs at near 6000 words so I had to be brief. What I said was:

Quote:
The KAPD aimed not to represent or lead the working class, but rather to enlighten it(19), a similar project to the idea advanced by the Dyelo Truda group: “All assistance afforded to the masses in the realm of ideas must be consonant with the ideology of anarchism; otherwise it will not be anarchist assistance. ‘Ideologically assist’ simply means: influence from the ideas point of view, direct from the ideas point of view [a leadership of ideas].”(20) However, some left communists, such as Otto Rühle, felt even this was too much. They left the KAPD and AAUD and, objecting to the involvement of the KAPD in the AAUD, set up AAUD-E (General Workers Union of Germany – Unitary Organisation).

The majority of those who claim a legacy from the Dutch-German Left, those who call themselves council communists, tend to take the position of Rühle and the AAUD-E.

So in the conclusion I am talking about the dutch-german left as I, kind of, define it. Well not define it but of people who identify with the dutch-german left qua dutch-german left such as Mattick, and the people at the kurasje archive and pretty much all the people I've met who call themselves counicl communists would idenitify with the AAUD-E split from the AAUD, if they know about it.

I also don't think this is an unfair thing to do. I also quote Dauve who wrote:

Quote:
“Although both were attacked in Lenin's ‘Left-Wing Communism, An Infantile Disorder’, Pannekoek regarded Bordiga as a weird brand of Leninist, and Bordiga viewed Pannekoek as a distasteful mixture of marxism and anarcho-syndicalism. In fact, neither took any real interest in the other, and the "German" and "Italian" communist lefts largely ignored each other.”

Although since the late 60s early 70s there has been a tendency for people to find inspiration from both the italian left and the dutch-german left, as far as I know, before that there was a mutual antagonism. With people on the german-dutch left identifying with the AAUD-E tendency and rejecting the belief that the working class needed both a party, and a programme.

I suppose to some degree this tendency can be extended up to today with the people around prol-position, kolinko, echanges, collective action notes etc.

Sorry this is kind of inarticulate and I'm probably being unfair to people but my boss is watching me so I'm being quick.

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Dec 21 2007 16:42

thanks GS, it's here:
http://libcom.org/library/left-communism-its-ideology

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Dec 21 2007 17:31

Cool cheers.

Did you read it?

Did you like it?

Do you love me?

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Dec 21 2007 17:36
georgestapleton wrote:
Cool cheers.

Did you read it?

Did you like it?

Do you love me?

Never known you to be this excited! Who said commies were staid? tongue

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Dec 21 2007 17:39

Its almost xmas. Hurray. And now I'm finished work. Hurray Hurray. Fuck you hedge funds I'm outta here.

dave c
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Dec 21 2007 18:51

On a purely factual level, the following is problematic.

Oisin Mac Giollamoir wrote:

Quote:
At the turn of the year the KPD (German Communist Party) was founded. On the basis of their recent experiences, the majority of workers in the KPD developed a revolutionary critique of parliamentary activism and raised the slogan ‘All Power to the Workers’ Councils’. However, the leaders of the party, including Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, opposed this on the basis that it was anarchist(12).

Luxemburg raised the slogan ‘All Power to the Workers’ Councils’ and supported parliamentary activity. The above makes it seem like Luxemburg opposed this slogan, which is not the case. Both Luxemburg and the German Left understood this slogan as opposed to any idea of party dictatorship, differentiating them from Lenin, Trotsky, and Bordiga. This is why the Dutch/German Left sees its heritage in Luxemburg, despite the fact that the German Left was disagreeing with Luxemburg at the founding congress of the KPD, where her stance on the elections was criticized by Ruhle.

Also, I do not think Dauve was ever a Bordigist. What did you base this on?

mikus
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Dec 21 2007 19:01
dave c wrote:
Also, I do not think Dauve was ever a Bordigist. What did you base this on?

You don't think so? This was always my impression for some reason, but I don't think it is based on anything he explicitly said but rather the emphasis on criticizing democracy in his early writings. A lot of his formulations sounded very Bordigist to me.

Do you think it'd be fair to say that he was closer to Bordigism back in his early writings than he is now?

Bobby
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Dec 21 2007 21:22

this brillantist and sexist anarchist bit on the head. It sounds awful!

Bobby
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Dec 21 2007 21:25

I havent managed to read any of red and black yet, i got a copy for free but the title journal put me off right away.

dave c
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Dec 21 2007 23:19

On Dauve's Bordigism, I would say that the difference in perspective between his earlier and later stuff is minimal. His critique of the ultra-left (http://www.geocities.com/~johngray/eclips4.htm), for example, is an early example of his use of Bordiga. But he uses Bordiga in an argument that rejects Leninism. I think this places him outside of Bordigism. This is how he introduced the text:

Quote:
The following text is a modified version of a mimeographed text written by a small group of French revolutionaries who had been under the influence of the ultra-left movement and now think it necessary to discuss the fundamental theses of the ultra-left. The original text was submitted to a national convention organised by the French group l.C.O. ( Informations Correspondance Ouvrieres ), held in Paris in June, 1969.

So it seems like he was "under the influence of the ultra-left movement [council communism]" originally, and later incorporated ideas of the Italian Left without identifying as a Bordigist. The Bordigist formulations are there, but his use of the "party" concept, for example, is largely polemical. So I am not sure that he was essentially closer to Bordigism or if it simply sounds that way at times because of his polemical aims. He makes essentially the same critique of the ICO as the SI did, but couches it in different terms. So we see the influence of the traditional Dutch/German Left, the Italian Left, and the SI together. In his 1983 text "The Story of Our Origins" (http://us.geocities.com/jongra1/rome.htm#toc), explaining his theoretical heritage, there are sections on The German Left, the Italian Left, and the SI. One of his most recent writings (2007) (http://troploin0.free.fr/biblio/about/about.pdf), emphasizes the same influences: "In a nutshell, the German Left helped to see the form of the revolution, the Italian Left its content, and the SI the process that is the only way of obtaining that content."

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Dec 21 2007 23:47
dave c wrote:
So it seems like he was "under the influence of the ultra-left movement [council communism]" originally, and later incorporated ideas of the Italian Left without identifying as a Bordigist.

Okay, cool. For some reason I was under the opposite impression. (I.e. that he was first a Bordigist and later influenced by council communism.)

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Dec 22 2007 01:36

Dauve was influenced by Bordiga's critique of democracy whilst rejecting his fetish of the party form - he's also influenced by councilism's theory of self-organisation but rejects their fetish of the council form as guarantor of communist realisation (another aspect of the critique of democracy). I think he sees organisation as a manifestation of the 'historic party' - as the form that struggle necessarily takes - rather than any official formal party or org. At least that's what I remember from a drunken conversation with him 20 yrs ago at a (social) party.

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Dec 22 2007 06:02
dave c wrote:
Also, I do not think Dauve was ever a Bordigist. What did you base this on?

I think he was actually. I think he was in the PCInt though I am not sure.

Devrim

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Dec 22 2007 06:20
georgestapleton wrote:
Hmmm. You might have a point here. I know what you're saying, agree with it and wasn't trying to be intellectually dishonest.

I tried to explain the german-dutch left and how they developed. I'd have liked to go into its development in more detail but the article runs at near 6000 words so I had to be brief.

Yes, I can see what you are saying. I think in general what you have written was well researched, and accurate. I think that the conclusion was very weak though in that it looks at the communist left in the 1930s, and says these are its faults. The point is that you look at these currents at the worst point of the counter revolution, and then pronounce their weaknesses. Weaknesses that were a lot less pronounced when they were stronger organisations with stronger connections to the working class.

georgestapleton wrote:
So in the conclusion I am talking about the dutch-german left as I, kind of, define it. Well not define it but of people who identify with the dutch-german left qua dutch-german left such as Mattick, and the people at the kurasje archive and pretty much all the people I've met who call themselves counicl communists would idenitify with the AAUD-E split from the AAUD, if they know about it.

I also don't think this is an unfair thing to do. I also quote Dauve who wrote:
Quote:

“Although both were attacked in Lenin's ‘Left-Wing Communism, An Infantile Disorder’, Pannekoek regarded Bordiga as a weird brand of Leninist, and Bordiga viewed Pannekoek as a distasteful mixture of marxism and anarcho-syndicalism. In fact, neither took any real interest in the other, and the "German" and "Italian" communist lefts largely ignored each other.”

Quote:
Although since the late 60s early 70s there has been a tendency for people to find inspiration from both the italian left and the dutch-german left, as far as I know, before that there was a mutual antagonism. With people on the german-dutch left identifying with the AAUD-E tendency and rejecting the belief that the working class needed both a party, and a programme.

I suppose to some degree this tendency can be extended up to today with the people around prol-position, kolinko, echanges, collective action notes etc.

Left communism is quite a vague term in some ways. Originally it didn't describe a coherent set of ideas, but a rejection of another set of ideas. I think that you can classify what it became as three distinct currents, the 'council communists', the 'Bordigists', and the 'left communists*'. To a certain extent that is how these people describe themselves, so I think they are terms that we can stick with. In my opinion your criticisms have a much more valid base when discussing 'council communism', or 'Bordigism'. It does omit to mention though that similar criticisms have been raised by the 'left communists', who I think are the largest, and most organised of the three tendencies.

Devrim

* What you describe as 'since the late 60s early 70s there has been a tendency for people to find inspiration from both the italian left and the dutch-german left' although I think that the current actually emerged in the 1930s.

ernie
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Dec 23 2007 20:11

Interesting discussion. Agree with Devrim about the need for those who claim that the KAPD was against the party to read their program
The article seems to be predisposed towards stressing the role of the Duch/German Left, and down playing that of the Italian Left. Why does the analysis not address the question of the role of the Italian Left Fraction in the work of the international communist left in the 1930's or the theoretical depth of the work of the Fraction? In the depth of the worst counter-revolution the Italian Left was able to act as a crucible of theoretical development, for example its denunciation of the Spanish Civil War as an imperialist war. On a superficial level it may not appear as 'radical' as the Dutch/German left but at the theoretical and organisational level it has provide the working class with much of real depth. This does not mean that the German and Dutch Left did not contribute to the development of the working class's theoretical and organisational arsenal. The ICC thinks that it is essential to make a synthesis of the contributions and experience of both current.
The article also does not deal with the Internationalist Stand that both currents took against the Second imperialist bloodbath. Nor does it deal with the way in which they sort to develop their activity and contacts during this terrible slaughter. For example the Marx, Lenin Luxemburg league in Holland that became the Spatacusbund reground several hundred militants and emerged from the war initially with a position on the organisation question that went beyond the rejection of the need for a political organisation of the working class.
There is also no analysis of the emergence of Left Commuinist current in other areas for example: Russia, Mexico, Britain and in the US.
There is no real reason why this article should be so limited in its analysis of the Communist Left, there is much material on the history of the Communist Left by the present groups of the Communist Left.
If comrades want a more in-depth analysis of the Communist Left they could consult our books on the Italian, German.Dutch, Russian and British Left communists, which are avialable from our website: en.internationalism.org or Amazon. I know this is a shameless plug, but they are the only books available that give an in-depth political and historical analysis of the International Communist Left.
One last point, the Communist Left is not some historical curiosity but a living, growing and dynamic expression of the proletariat's political struggle to liberate itself from capitalism.

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Dec 23 2007 22:46
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One last point, the Communist Left is not some historical curiosity but a living, growing and dynamic expression of the proletariat's political struggle to liberate itself from capitalism.

I think the reason behind this is Dauve. You can see his infliuence on the discourse in each sentence. If you check the bibliography that can also be seen how the writer read the history of communist left.

But I am not questioning the intention of the writer here. It is obvious that Dauve has a big infliuence in english speaking worlds left-commie, anarchism tendencies. Actually the first stuff we had translated before EKS was Dauve...

And unfortunately Dauve always write as if communist left is already dead. He rarely mentions Bilan -that I suppose he know very well-. Invariance and modernism is sometimes aesthetical but always ahistorical smile

ernie
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Dec 24 2007 00:13

Mikail

My post suggest bad intentions of the writers part, which is incorrect. As you say it reflects very well some anarchist try to marry Anarchism and Left Communism, especially the Dutch/German Left: which is seen as the acceptable face of Left Communism. In many ways such an analysis has to avoid dealing with the Italian fraction because that raises the question of Spain and also WW2 and also the activity of the Communist Left now.
The sub title underlines the idea that Left Communism is something dead and gone:

Quote:
An introduction and critique of an often forgoteen tendency in the revolutionary movement.

In many ways this articles reminds me of the articles written in the 1970's when a new generation was just discovering the Communist Left;.The KAPD appeared to many as a fantastic antidote to Stalinism and all the questions and doubts there were about organization etc. As with the article, what the KAPD really said mattered less than than image one had, or wanted to have. On first appears they looked a lot more post-68 friendly than the Italian Left, which was mainly know through the Internationalist Communist Party (Programma) and its position on the party. One of the most important things that the newly formed ICC did was to systematically try to present the true depth of the contribution made by the Italian Fraction. It and its territorial section (along with groups like the CWO) did all it could to discover and present the expressions of the Communist Left. For example Workers Voice -one of the groups that went on the form the CWO- put a lot of effort into discovering what they could about the Workers' Dreadnought. This was a very exciting and stimulating time, when new currents, groups etc were being discovered and their work made known, there was a real sense of rootiing oneself in a historical tradition.
Mikali I have to say I do not know a lot about Dauve.
I am not sure about the picture used with the article being 'Left Communists', I though it was a picture of members of the Communist Party defending the printing press that the party had taken over to produce Rota Fahn. If it is a picture of KAPD militants it would be interesting to know the source

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Dec 24 2007 11:25

eernie,
/
I did not mean that writer was "correct" in the way he/she evaluated the issue. However there is a strong influence of Debord/perlman/situ/dauve/negation/(old) mouvement communiste/antagonism/aufheben etc "tendency" which is mostly translated/influenced in english (from french ?) and conceived as a fancy literature. So I did not want to undermine the efforts of ICC, CWO-IBRP or any other group. However it is obvious that the above groups and individuals have an influence on anarchist currents and most people (like me) meet with left communism through these...

I agree with you that the similarity between all is the idea that crisis is/was over, that left communism is an authentic but dead thing, that it can be seperated from its history and adapted to that semi-anarchistic theory. In that sense writer may not be aware of the contributions of ICC, CWO, or Bİlan and Prometeo ...

anna x
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Dec 24 2007 11:28

laugh out loud I just deadset read ytour name asd mikail flirtini lol
allk the best.
gregg.

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mikail firtinaci
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Dec 24 2007 11:52

sorry I did not understand grrregg

dave c
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Dec 24 2007 18:55

Mikail:

Quote:
I agree with you that the similarity between all is the idea that crisis is/was over

Seriously? This rings true for the SI, but I don't think this is the similarity between the groups/individuals you mentioned. This is Aufheben for example:

Quote:
However understandable in the context of the post war boom, Cardan and S or B's rejection of the theory of crisis and later of Marx was an overreaction that itself became dogmatic. Cardan and many other S or B theorists like Lyotard and Lefort became academic recuperators. While adopting Cardan's ideas gave revolutionaries an edge on the Leninists in the fifties and sixties, when crisis returned in the seventies those who continued to follow him ironically showed the same dogmatism in denying crisis in the face of its obvious reappearance as the old lefties had in insisting on it during its absence. . . . But the situationists had essentially adopted Socialism or Barbarism's position that capitalism had resolved its tendency towards economic crisis.[18] Debord's critique of the bourgeois outlook lying behind the scientific pretensions of the upholders of crisis theory had its truth, but he was wrong to dismiss the notion of crisis completely. http://www.geocities.com/aufheben2/auf_3_dec2.html

So Aufheben, for example, does not agree with the SI. Neither does Dauve, etc.

You are certainly correct about the influence of some of these groups/individuals, but there is no need to attribute a false homogeneity to them in order to criticize them.

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Dec 24 2007 19:06
Quote:
So Aufheben, for example, does not agree with the SI. Neither does Dauve, etc.

You are certainly correct about the influence of some of these groups/individuals, but there is no need to attribute a false homogeneity to them in order to criticize them.

yes that is my mistake and you are right.

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Dec 24 2007 19:11

but I have to add that there is a continouity between situationists and dauve for instance. Lots of articles of dauve give refference to situ texts and give lots of emphasis to situ analysis. In that sense there is a metodolohical similarity between them. As far as I remember dauve s crititc of SI and S ou B rarely mentions crisis...

booeyschewy
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Dec 24 2007 19:53

I enjoyed this article and think that its conclusions are mostly correct.

Forget the 30s devrim, read the later Mattick. As far as I can tell there was a trajectory from the early period (i.e. support for parties, support for independent revolutionary unions) to the present where you read authors arguing for determinism and hence spontaneism, or for the necessity of informal propaganda groups only, etc. The interesting thing to me is that anti-organizationalist anarchists (insurrectionists, primitivists, post-leftists) and councilists have converged on the organizational question in a few variants. True during the height of activity they supported a program, and Mattick supported organizations like the IWW later on, but the concepts in the critique (determinism, fetishization of structure, spontaneism) led to the natural dissolution of organization.

Personally I'm really interested in councilists who are into organization and who aren't determinists/believe in dialectics. Any references would be greatly appreciated. This is where I think the best synergy could happen, anarchist organization combined with the critique of political economy from the councilist traditions.

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Dec 24 2007 20:06

booeyschewy,

I suggest you to check for Loren Goldner 's site. There you can find discussions about why post-marxist, pomo critics are burgeoisie. I think the concepts of authority and power are limited to understand social relations. So why marx and engels broke with young hegelians -bakunin, stirner are some of them-... Maybe because they found their paradigm problematic?...

The tendecy in councilicm that allow a merge with pomo ideology becomes appearent when you read Ruhle. But it becomes obscure in 20' Pannekoek and Gorter. Critic of leadership and mass action becomes fetishes as the revolution fails and comintern fails to become a basis for interaction between parties. I mean KAPD itself was a party and there were lots of tendencies in it. If you would try not to homogenise it you can see the degenerating tendencies. ICC's book on german-holland left is a good one in this respect. I did not read fully but dauve has something on it too...

ernie
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Dec 24 2007 20:11

Mikail

I was not meaning that you thought Dauve was correct, but rather that you were correct to say that the article had to be taken in its context. Nor was the post trying to say that you underestimated the work of the Communist Left such as the ICC, CWo, rahter I was trying to underline that there was a very exciting process of discovery in the 1970's and 80's and into the 90's: and beyond.