Letters

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yoshomon
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Dec 20 2007 14:43
Letters

The first issue of Letters is finished. A pdf can be downloaded and printed front the site below, and paper copies are available upon request (free to prisoners, $2ppd otherwise). The deadline for the second issue is March 1st 2008, and submissions can be sent by either email or post. Unpublished correspondence is also welcome.

www.lettersjournal.org

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sam sanchez
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Dec 20 2007 16:52

I have to say I don't quite see the point. Sorry.

yoshomon
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Dec 20 2007 17:35
guydebordisdead wrote:
I appreciate the quantity of work yoshomon manages but his politics are trendy american shite and the design is brutal.

I don't know how to use design software, so I use microsoft word. I like how it looks...

I didn't know the ideas I'm into were trendy, but if they are, I would be happy to find all the other people interested in them.

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Chilli Sauce
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Dec 20 2007 18:17

As much as i've given yoshomon shit in the past, i applaud his effort, I mean really, he's in Kentucky, cut the dude some slack. Being snarky to the boy is not going to help him develop his politics, so allow me to make some constructive criticisms:

Basically, this feels a bit too much like the middle class white drop-our culture that passes for radical/libertarian/anarchist politics here in the states. An emphasis on DIY, post-modernism, a counter-culture mentality, "anti-civilization" (uhh...) and anti-work(er)--in short, a removal of radical politics from the workplace--does nothing to build the workers' movement that is the only thing capable of overthrowing capitalism an implementing any sort of sane economic or political order. As such, it is a fair bet is not going to be received well on Libcom.

yoshomon
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Dec 20 2007 22:20
ncwob wrote:
As much as i've given yoshomon shit in the past, i applaud his effort, I mean really, he's in Kentucky, cut the dude some slack. Being snarky to the boy is not going to help him develop his politics, so allow me to make some constructive criticisms:

Basically, this feels a bit too much like the middle class white drop-our culture that passes for radical/libertarian/anarchist politics here in the states. An emphasis on DIY, post-modernism, a counter-culture mentality, "anti-civilization" (uhh...) and anti-work(er)--in short, a removal of radical politics from the workplace--does nothing to build the workers' movement that is the only thing capable of overthrowing capitalism an implementing any sort of sane economic or political order. As such, it is a fair bet is not going to be received well on Libcom.

I don't understand why living in Kentucky means I should be "cut some slack".

Where in 'Letters' is there any discussion of post-modernism, counter-culture, 'dropping out', etc? There is actually going to be an article about DIY in the next issue, but its focus is on the effects of factory work. I feel as though you did not read a single line of this publication or anything I've written for that matter.

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Chilli Sauce
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Dec 21 2007 02:24

It was actually just me being a paternalistic bastard. And you are correct, I only skimmed Letters, but I did check out you total destruction zine and you list crimethinc as a worthy contact. Not good, my friend. And, in all honesty, how does one reconcile "anti-civilization" with Marxism?

yoshomon
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Dec 21 2007 03:09
ncwob wrote:
It was actually just me being a paternalistic bastard. And you are correct, I only skimmed Letters, but I did check out you total destruction zine and you list crimethinc as a worthy contact. Not good, my friend. And, in all honesty, how does one reconcile "anti-civilization" with Marxism?

I'd be happy to discuss my ideas with you if you actually want to read what I've written. It's really funny that the 'anti-civilization marxism' thing is so bothersome to people here. I don't really like labels, but I like that one because it is so unreasonable... a kind of 'plague on both your houses', to stay in keeping with topic of the thread.

I think the article about Iraq in 'Letters' might be of interest to you, but you will probably hate the rest of it. You may hate the Iraq article as well, but I think you can find something in it you deem worthy of engaging with. Thinking back, your opening slander is pretty ridiculous as in my zine I argued pretty deterministically for focusing only on asserting self-interest at the point of production. I imagine it must be hard to build a union or whatever you're trying to do if you approach strangers like this.

tastybrain
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Dec 21 2007 09:15

Yoshomon, is the first article expressing a pacifist position? I'm not really a supporter of the "Iraqi Resistance" but surely there have been some armed resistance in history that has been productive.

letters wrote:
The greatest contribution of the situationists was their dissolution. If anything, it may have come later than it ought to have. Following the brief upheavals in France in 1968 hundreds attempted to gain membership to the SI. Rather than accumulate members and achieve a more infamous notoriety, the SI began destroying itself. This, more than any thesis in Society of the Spectacle, is the greatest contribution of the situationists. Like all great contributions by pro-revolutionaries, it was purely negative and affirmed nothing other than the necessity of negation.

Hmmm.... So political organizations should destroy themselves, lest they become bogged down by dreaded organization and structure?

letters wrote:
revolutionary change cannot arise from any existing social force

History has proven this utterly wrong. To be honest I find these ideas largely useless. You seem to be saying that no real change can occur except in 'rupture', which I gather cannot come from any 'existing social force'. This is absurd because revolutionary change has happened before and will happen again; in every case it has arisen from an existing social force, such as the revolution of capitalism emerging from the emerging bourgeois. If this is not a truly "revolutionary" event then I would like to know what constitutes a sufficiently revolutionary event to fit your definition of the word? Has one ever happened?

I also detect a deep misanthropy in your ideas which see the proletariat as incapable of seeing beyond their immediate conditions, as expressed by the opening paragraphs of "The Impotence of the Revolutionary Group". It seems incredibly elitist to think the working class is happy as long as food is on the table and the TV remains intact.

History also seems to go against the assertion of Moss' text; the past is full of examples of working class revolutionary self-activity. If revolutionary groups are so impotent, why does the ruling class often spend so much time and energy brutally repressing them? Obviously revolutionary groups are weak and impotent at this particular moment in history, but this has not always been the case and will not remain so.

There also seems to be a lot of complex theoretical language, too much for my taste. I guess since you are not really writing to be understood here, except by others who are fluent in your jargon, it doesn't really matter. (A bit hypocritical since you accuse us militants of "preaching to the converted".) After all, an attempt to communicate with the average proletarian is hopelessly paternal and workerist, and besides, they only care about immediate conditions. Like children, really.

I found the interview section to be a bit much, since I didn't really know who either of the people was (I assume one was you?) and therefore find it hard to take an interest in their personal journey towards anti-politics. The layout was... mmmm... not terrible but not great either. The pictures also sort of pissed me off. Why use such random images? They seemed to have no connection with the text and existed just to take up space.

One thing I appreciate is your honesty. You admit that you think its impossible for anyone to do anything about the present state of the world, a basically conservative position, (But hey, whatever man. You put together a journal, more then I've done lately) and that guy in the interview (was it you?) was kept talking about how he only associates with other communists to have something to think about and people to talk to. At least you're candid neutral

Anyway, I hope you can find something useful in these criticisms.

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thugarchist
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Dec 21 2007 15:05

God what an ugly piece of garbage. Zines usually at least look cool. Innovative use of Calvin n Hobbes though. beard beardy beardiest

yoshomon
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Dec 21 2007 22:40
guydebordisdead wrote:
This kid is way too caught up in the mystery and aesthetic of nihilism. Anti-civilization-marxism is just something he calls himself to piss his parents off.

I get along fine with my parents, but thanks for your concern.

Tastybrain, I'll try to get back to you when I can.

yoshomon
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Dec 22 2007 02:35
tastybrain wrote:
Yoshomon, is the first article expressing a pacifist position? I'm not really a supporter of the "Iraqi Resistance" but surely there have been some armed resistance in history that has been productive.

No, the first article is not expressing a pacifist position. What do you mean by productive? I think clandestine 'armed struggle' groups are inevitably drawn into anti-imperialism, cult-like internal hierarchy, and collision with the state. That has been the case for all 'armed struggle' groups that I'm aware of, except those which dissolved or were killed off/imprisoned before they were around for very long. Bommi Bauman's How It All Began is a pretty vivid description of this process by someone who participated in the urban guerrilla shit but became critical of it.

As far as the 'Iraqi resistance' goes, it is clearly anti-working class and anti-human. You say you are "not really a supporter" - what does this mean? That you have some support? I'm curious as to why this is, if it is the case.

Quote:
Hmmm.... So political organizations should destroy themselves, lest they become bogged down by dreaded organization and structure?

Yes, I think it would be interesting if they destroyed themselves (I don't think they will), but more likely they will have to be destroyed. I think that all existing structures and organizations are capitalist and will play recuperative (if not outright repressive) roles in future revolts, like all of the leftist and pro-revolutionary organizations before them. I think it's silly to think that the long list of 'betrayals' by supposedly radical organizations is due to 'bad leadership' or 'flawed analysis'. Of course, the working class for the most part has no interest in contemporary pro-revolutionary groups, and they are small and powerless.

tastybrain wrote:
letters wrote:
revolutionary change cannot arise from any existing social force

History has proven this utterly wrong. To be honest I find these ideas largely useless. You seem to be saying that no real change can occur except in 'rupture', which I gather cannot come from any 'existing social force'. This is absurd because revolutionary change has happened before and will happen again; in every case it has arisen from an existing social force, such as the revolution of capitalism emerging from the emerging bourgeois. If this is not a truly "revolutionary" event then I would like to know what constitutes a sufficiently revolutionary event to fit your definition of the word? Has one ever happened?

The only successful revolutionary class in history - so far - is the bourgeoisie. I think the proletariat - because of its objective place in the economy - is capable of destroying capitalism, but I don't think there is a "real movement" to communism. no existing social force that is moving towards revolution. I think such a force could possibly arise in response to a serious crisis.

As far as immediate demands goes, what are examples of class struggle that isn't about immediate demands? Class struggle is always about more money, less work, better conditions, less abusive/controlling boss, lower rent prices, cheaper fuel costs, more autonomy on the shopfloor, etc. These are immediate demands which the proletariat is constantly asserting in some way against the interests of capital. I don't think these demands are 'childish' (though the surrealists used the adjective 'childish' as a positive). Your belief in your ability to transform conditions, however, is a childlike over-estimation of your agency in relation to the world (which you have no control over or power against). This belief in agency leads to traveling in silly circles, repeating tasks even if you fail over and over again, but unlike children, pro-revolutionaries do not seem to learn from their mistakes. Can you believe that there is still talk of building "revolutionary" parties and unions?

I don't like your criticism of the "complex theoretical language". Of course we are writing to people who are interested in similar things as we are. Who else would we write to? If you picked up a publication about jazz and had no understanding of jazz music, I'm sure you would find the jargon confusing. If you want to learn about jazz, or communist theory, or whatever, and put a small amount of time into understanding it, the language will become less difficult. Also, if you read the bit about "preaching to the converted" again you'll see that it is also written that this is the only type of preaching that works.

You are right that these ideas are largely useless to the tasks you've currently set before yourself as they reject those tasks and don't really propose anything to take their place.

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Chilli Sauce
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Dec 22 2007 06:18
Quote:
I think that all existing structures and organizations are capitalist and will play recuperative (if not outright repressive) roles in future revolts

All? Really? Little league baseball teams? Online reading groups? My grandmother's knitting circle? But beyond my sarcasm, how do you envision any sort of social change--revolutionary or otherwise--developing in the future? Your analysis leaves you without any sort of mechanism for the working class (which you nominally seem to support) to affect society. Spontaneous rebellion is all well and good, but what principles will they use to guide their rebellion? I would think having participated in--or at least having available for a model--some form libertarian social organization will increase the chances of success for mass social movement to overcome capitalism and implement a stateless society. I also don't think I need to point out that there are plethora of authoritarian leftist groups that would love to co-opt any sort mass class-based struggle. Finally, when "serious crises" develop within capitalism, the 'spontaneous' reactions that develop are not usually that spontaneous at all. In fact, they are usually the culmination of decades of struggle.

Quote:
I don't like your criticism of the "complex theoretical language". Of course we are writing to people who are interested in similar things as we are. Who else would we write to?
Quote:
I think the proletariat - because of its objective place in the economy - is capable of destroying capitalism

This is not to suggest the working class is not capable of articulating advanced political and economic theory; I firmly believe they are and I think history demonstrates as much. But it would seem if your goal is social change (is it?) being an ivory tower anti-civilization Marxist is no way to go about it.

tastybrain
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Dec 22 2007 22:11
yoshomon wrote:
As far as the 'Iraqi resistance' goes, it is clearly anti-working class and anti-human. You say you are "not really a supporter" - what does this mean? That you have some support? I'm curious as to why this is, if it is the case.
-----
What do you mean by productive?

To be honest I haven't really researched the situation in Iraq or the resistance to the occupation enough to give you much of an answer. As I understand it there are many different groups and factions which comprise "the resistance". I have heard some absolutely despicable acts attributed to "the insurgents", such as bombs being set off in marketplaces, and obviously I find these actions repulsive. However, I think the situation is far more complex then "different sections of the ruling class fighting for control". I also think if a working class group arose to fight American occupation that was not Islamist, nationalist, or statist and did not massacre non-combatants I would probably support them. As for an example of a resistance movement that I think was legitimate, I would say the Black Army in the Ukraine and many of the anti-fascist groups throughout Europe during WWII.

As for the definition of "productive", I would say an organization that prevented the slaughter of innocent people would be productive. Maybe this doesn't have anything to do with communism, but its still a worthy goal.

yoshomon wrote:
As far as immediate demands goes, what are examples of class struggle that isn't about immediate demands? Class struggle is always about more money, less work, better conditions, less abusive/controlling boss, lower rent prices, cheaper fuel costs, more autonomy on the shopfloor, etc. These are immediate demands which the proletariat is constantly asserting in some way against the interests of capital.

I think the biggest difference between our politics is that I see communism as the logical extension of these demands, whereas you see it as some kind of mystical event that we are powerless to work towards or even envision, as expressed in your slogan "movement is closed circuit, communism is rupture".
(This surprises me coming from a self proclaimed Marxist. Didn't Marx say that "men are not made by history, they make it" or something along those lines?)
As the class struggle continues and intensifies, I am confident that so too will workers' demands expand from mere improvements within capitalism to the demand for a completely new society, where their immediate demands can indeed be fully realized (MUCH less work, FULL autonomy on the shopfloor, NO rent prices, NO bosses, the best conditions feasibly possible, etc). Maybe you think this is "just another kind of capitalism" and want to "abolish work" completely, but this is impossible.

yoshomon wrote:
Your belief in your ability to transform conditions, however, is a childlike over-estimation of your agency in relation to the world (which you have no control over or power against).

I never had any belief in 'my agency in relation to the world' as an individual, except obviously on an individual level. I do, however, believe in the ability of large groups of people to collectively transform conditions. To believe otherwise is a denial of both reality and again, history. To believe that humans have no control over the condition of the world or the direction of history is sheer lunacy. How else does change occur? God? Do you really not believe that if huge masses of people began to rebel against the current state of society, against capitalism and the state, this would have no effect? To give a historical example, how was the US forced to leave Vietnam if not through human agency?

yoshomon wrote:
This belief in agency leads to traveling in silly circles, repeating tasks even if you fail over and over again, but unlike children, pro-revolutionaries do not seem to learn from their mistakes. Can you believe that there is still talk of building "revolutionary" parties and unions?

It's a fundamental truth that no one can achieve anything without organization. I suppose that in your fatalistic worldview, nothing that happens is caused by human agency, so of course organization is pointless. Yes, revolutions have failed. Yes, organizations have betrayed the working class and their members. This doesn't mean that all organizations are bad or that revolution is doomed to fail. "spontaneous rebellion" achieves even less then organization unless there are organized groups to sustain revolutionary activity (look at the uprisings in the Banlieues in 2005). I think the building of revolutionary unions is indeed a worthy goal, as long as these unions are controlled by their members and not unaccountable bureaucracies which get separated from their members and become another set of bosses or a mediating layer between the workers and capital. This IS possible. As far as organizations I think did good things, I will wheel out the tired old anarchist standards; the CNT, the IWW, the Ukranian Free Soviets, etc. There were problems with all of these groups, but they never sold out their members and accomplished a great deal then "spontaneous rebellions" ever have. So yes, I support the building of revolutionary unions. (By "party", I assume you mean a hierarchal organization that attempts to gain state power, which is clearly not anarchist, so no, I do not support that kind of thing.)

yoshomon wrote:
I don't like your criticism of the "complex theoretical language". Of course we are writing to people who are interested in similar things as we are. Who else would we write to?

I think anarcho-communist ideas need to be popularized, which requires writing for a wider audience and avoiding confusing, obscure terms, but you're right, we have no goals in common, so I guess this is not really a problem.

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Dec 27 2007 21:51
tastybrain wrote:
As far as organizations I think did good things, I will wheel out the tired old anarchist standards; the CNT, the IWW, the Ukrainian Free Soviets, etc. There were problems with all of these groups, but they never sold out their members and accomplished a great deal then "spontaneous rebellions" ever have.

I'm sure that's news to a lot of people here who have studied the history of the Spanish Revolution. If you'll recall, the CNT did, in fact, sell out the workers, join the government and generally fuck up in every way possible.

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xYosefx
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Dec 27 2007 22:59

Also, on the question of organization, or rather the idea that a realization of the reformist character of formal organizations is an opposition to organization itself, I found this quite relevant Troploin quote:

Communists get organised; that is, they organise themselves: they don’t organise others.

yoshomon
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Dec 28 2007 02:05
Quote:
I think anarcho-communist ideas need to be popularized, which requires writing for a wider audience and avoiding confusing, obscure terms, but you're right, we have no goals in common, so I guess this is not really a problem.

Have you considered raising money for billboards?

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Dec 28 2007 07:03
yoshomon wrote:
Quote:
I think anarcho-communist ideas need to be popularized, which requires writing for a wider audience and avoiding confusing, obscure terms, but you're right, we have no goals in common, so I guess this is not really a problem.

Have you considered raising money for billboards?

No, they are anarchists. They don't pay enough subs.

I am going to read through this at the weekend if only because I skimmed it, and it has lots of references to someone I used to work with.

Devrim

Randy
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Dec 28 2007 10:17
yoshomon wrote:
...Have you considered raising money for billboards?

Not until you suggested it!

tastybrain
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Jan 4 2008 06:14
xYosefx wrote:
I'm sure that's news to a lot of people here who have studied the history of the Spanish Revolution. If you'll recall, the CNT did, in fact, sell out the workers, join the government and generally fuck up in every way possible.

Actually, you're right, I haven't studied the history of the Spanish Revolution. I was under the impression that the CNT played a positive role, but I'm willing to put my foot in my mouth.

yoshomon wrote:
Quote:
I think anarcho-communist ideas need to be popularized, which requires writing for a wider audience and avoiding confusing, obscure terms, but you're right, we have no goals in common, so I guess this is not really a problem.

Have you considered raising money for billboards?

Why is communicating to a wider population something to be mocked?

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Jan 4 2008 07:22
Quote:
(This surprises me coming from a self proclaimed Marxist. Didn't Marx say that "men are not made by history, they make it" or something along those lines?)

He said: Men make history, but not under conditions of their own choosing. Nevertheless it backs up the point you were making.

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xYosefx
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Jan 4 2008 23:51
tastybrain wrote:
xYosefx wrote:
I'm sure that's news to a lot of people here who have studied the history of the Spanish Revolution. If you'll recall, the CNT did, in fact, sell out the workers, join the government and generally fuck up in every way possible.

Actually, you're right, I haven't studied the history of the Spanish Revolution. I was under the impression that the CNT played a positive role, but I'm willing to put my foot in my mouth.

In that case, might I suggest Lessons of the Spanish Revolution by Vernon Richards as an excellent starting point?

fort-da game
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Jan 24 2008 16:54

I now have paper copies of this which I can post to anyone in Europe who would like one.

sam sanchez wrote:
I have to say I don't quite see the point. Sorry.

And I think that is a good point. But wouldn’t the purpose of Letters be something like: (1) set out a perspective based more or less on arbitrarily chosen ‘principles’, (2) then undertake research within that defined field with the intent of producing new objects of knowledge which could not be produced by other means, and whilst using that activity to connect with others under the terms defined (3) continue the research until the frame set on it becomes more of a hindrance than aid, at which point the project should be abandoned.

I am interested to see whether a network of contributors could be established so as to sustain this beyond issue two which is where most efforts of this type fail.