'Platformism'

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Devrim
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Dec 23 2006 12:12
'Platformism'

I appreciate that Joe Black wants to discuss the platform as a historical text, so I won’t bother him on that thread. There are a couple of questions I would like to ask about ‘Platformism’ today though.

First, and most importantly I would like to ask why people think that the ‘Platformist’ trend has developed to be a collection of groups which share a common position that is pro-trade union work, and soft on national liberation struggles.

As I remember from the Platform, which admittedly I read over twenty years ago, and didn’t see anything remarkable in at the time, there is very little in it about actual politics, and it seemed to concentrate on organisational issues. Why then have the ‘Platformist’ groups gravitated to wards these politics? Is it just a case of shared political evolution? I for one don’t see the impossibility of a ‘Platformist’ group holding a position intransigently against national liberation movements.

Also, just to clarify something on the WSM’s position on union reform, do they see that these demands(7.6.5a in particular) are real achievable objectives, or are they a type of ‘transitional demand’?

Devrim

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Dec 23 2006 12:35
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I for one don’t see the impossibility of a ‘Platformist’ group holding a position intransigently against national liberation movements.

Yes. There are a number of posters who are platformists who are "intrasigently [weird choice of word Dev, it makes the position sound 'unreasonable'] against national liberation movements."

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Dec 23 2006 12:41

But it doesn't seem to be true of 'Platformist' organisations. Maybe, I am wrong, and Wayne Prices' arguments don't have as much resonance as I thought.

By the way:

Quote:
in·tran·si·gent /ɪnˈtrænsɪdʒənt/
–adjective 1. refusing to agree or compromise; uncompromising; inflexible.
–noun 2. a person who refuses to agree or compromise, as in politics.

Devrim

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Dec 23 2006 12:45
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inflexible

tongue

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Dec 23 2006 12:47
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Maybe, I am wrong, and Wayne Prices' arguments don't have as much resonance as I thought.

Wayne Price is just some punter in NEFAC who writes essays for anarkismo. You can choose to be haunted by him, allow him to stalk your thoughts (Wooo HAHAHAHAHA!) or accept that national liberationism is a specific and not a general criticism of individual platformists and platformist organisations.

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Dec 23 2006 12:49

Thanks for the seperate thread Devrim

Very briefly I think the answer is that the platform also has an emphasis on anarchist involvement in mass organisation although it is mostly written with the assumption of being in a revolutionary period. All the same I think the current positions help on unions by platformists are reflected in the following quote taking account of the different circumstances

"We regard revolutionary syndicalism solely as a trade-union movement of the workers with no specific social and political ideology, and thus incapable by itself of resolving the social question; as such it is our opinion that the task of anarchists in the ranks of that movement consists of developing anarchist ideas within it and of steering it in an anarchist direction, so as to turn it into an active army of the social revolution. It is important to remember that if syndicalism is not given the support of anarchist theory in good time, it will be forced to rely on the ideology of some statist political party."

National liberation is more complex and I reject you consistent attempts to divide opposition to nationalism into 'hard' and 'soft' varieties as this confuses principles with tactics (ie the assumption that the most effective opposition will be that which tries to sound most intransigent). Again I think the position here is shaped by a general aim of involvement in mass movements of the opppressed rather than preaching at such movements. It is probably also significant that at least in the Anglo sphere the 'platformists' are the only anarchists who have tried to seriously analyise imperialism and anti-imperialism and sketch a detailed anarchist program. Others have been happy sticking to what they imagine are traditional anarchist slogans and not developing a program for action.

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Dec 23 2006 13:34

JoeBlack’s emphases on ‘involvement in mass organisation’, which I believe is shared with the ‘Espificismo’ current, and its idea of ‘social insertion’ is all very well, but as he points out himself, it has its roots in a completely different historic period:

JoeBlack2 wrote:
Very briefly I think the answer is that the platform also has an emphasis on anarchist involvement in mass organisation although it is mostly written with the assumption of being in a revolutionary period.

The left communists would agree that we should be active in ‘working class mass organisation’. Where we would disagree with you is on the nature of the organisations that you refer too when you say ‘mass organisation’ today.

We would characterise national liberation movements as being anti-working class. Joe writes that:

JoeBlack2 wrote:
National liberation is more complex and I reject you consistent attempts to divide opposition to nationalism into 'hard' and 'soft' varieties as this confuses principles with tactics (ie the assumption that the most effective opposition will be that which tries to sound most intransigent). Again I think the position here is shaped by a general aim of involvement in mass movements of the opppressed rather than preaching at such movements.

The whole idea of ‘involvement in mass movements of the oppressed’ to me seems to be one that is leading the way to open collaboration with the most reactionary elements in society. The ‘Resistance’ in Lebanon is certainly a ‘mass movement of the oppressed’. Does one then advocate that we should be involved in a movement like this alongside Hezbollah?

I would assume that the WSM would say no, the analogy serves to emphasise the point though that there are some ‘mass movements of the oppressed’ that we both would not involve ourselves in. That means that there must be a some criteria that we use to judge these movements.

For us, and the situation across the entire Middle East is a very clear example of this point, all nationalist groups serve to devide the working class, and not only this but are playing an active role in the descent of the entire region into war.

How you judge these groups, and what criteria you use would be an interesting topic.

JoeBlack2 wrote:
It is probably also significant that at least in the Anglo sphere the 'platformists' are the only anarchists who have tried to seriously analyise imperialism and anti-imperialism and sketch a detailed anarchist program. Others have been happy sticking to what they imagine are traditional anarchist slogans and not developing a program for action.

Can you give a link to the relevant position paper?

Also could you answer this question before I address your points on syndicalism, and unions?:

Devrim wrote:
…just to clarify something on the WSM’s position on union reform, do they see that these demands(7.6.5a in particular) are real achievable objectives, or are they a type of ‘transitional demand’?

Dundee_United wrote:
Quote:
Maybe, I am wrong, and Wayne Prices' arguments don't have as much resonance as I thought.

Wayne Price is just some punter in NEFAC who writes essays for anarkismo. You can choose to be haunted by him, allow him to stalk your thoughts (Wooo HAHAHAHAHA!) or accept that national liberationism is a specific and not a general criticism of individual platformists and platformist organisations.

Yes, I have heard this argument before, but he is a particularly vocal ‘punter’, and I think that his ideas do find resonance within the ‘Platformist’ milieu, for example his work has been reprinted in ‘KaraKizil Notları’ in Turkey without criticism. Maybe if his ideas don’t represent the current they shouldn’t be distributed by organisations within this current.

It also comes back to a point that WSM members often stress that they post here in a personal capacity. Surely, all political writings, and actions reflect on an organisation whether they are in an official capacity, or not. I wouldn’t argue against the positions of our organisation, though I may explain differences with in it where they existed, and make my personal opinion known. I thought that this was one of the things that ‘Platformism’ was meant to be a response to.

Devrim

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Dec 23 2006 15:32
Devrim wrote:
The left communists would agree that we should be active in ‘working class mass organisation’. Where we would disagree with you is on the nature of the organisations that you refer too when you say ‘mass organisation’ today.
Devrim

This is a point I've been thinking about a little recently, after reading a few bits and pieces by Luigi Fabbri and some of the FDCA's stuff. I can't find the relevant quote at the moment but he stresses the need for the specific organisation to be involved in the mass organisation, which for him is the labour union. The problem lies as to whether the labour union in its current formation can be said to be an organisation that allows the development of political coonsciousness of its members. Clearly, the larger unions, by their nature, work against this sort of development in many cases, via professional negotiators, illegalisation of solidarity strikes, limitation of pickets etc etc.

On the other hand, what mass movements are there for revolutionaries to get involved with that do allow this development? Do we wait around for a struggle that wholly represents the historical mission of the proletariat, or something? I'm genuinely interested in how you see working class struggle arising, and how the revolutionary organisation can get involved in this.

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Dec 23 2006 15:53
Devrim wrote:
We would characterise national liberation movements as being anti-working class.

I think here is might be useful to note that I used 'movements' rather than 'organisations', the two are not the same. My basic point would be many if not all NLM's have included proletarian strands, formal or informal, that sought to use the conditions created by such struggles to create radical working class democracy. These are often deeply buried in the history because remembering that agenda suits neither the imperialists, the (if victorous) new nationalist ruling class nor indeed any of the variants of leninism that promote unconditional support (which includes most if not all trotskyists). We've done a bit of work uncovering this in relation to Ireland, various articles that illustrate what I mean can be found at
http://www.wsm.ie/history
and
http://www.struggle.ws/rbr/rbr4_1798.html

As above I find you use of 'soft' in relation to this politically useless as it confuses 'hard' rhetoric with the ability to influence events. Being really 'hard' but having no influence is pretty worthless.

We try and avoid a mechanical 'one size fits all' analysis in relation to NL organisations as well. Onviously there is a rather large gap between the Zapatistas and Hezbollah, an analysis incapable of recognising this would be pretty useless.

The following is from our position paper Capitalist Globalisation and Imperialism

Quote:
"13. Without necesserly supporting each and every project of resistance we see our role as undermining the idea that the neo liberal order is inevitable and that resistance to it is both futile and criminal. In the case of National Liberation Movement we defend the struggle against imperialism while attacking the nationalist basis of this struggle.

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. "

Devrim wrote:
The whole idea of ‘involvement in mass movements of the oppressed’ to me seems to be one that is leading the way to open collaboration with the most reactionary elements in society. The ‘Resistance’ in Lebanon is certainly a ‘mass movement of the oppressed’.

I'm unconvinced that the NLM's routinely are composed of or even include the most reactionary elements in society. Indeed this illustrates the often unspoken big nation nationalism implicit in the left communist position whereby the single big nation is assumed to have a progressive content then such movements can only undermine.

Lebanon is a situation I am no expert on but even so it appears reactionary blocs are also the be found in the 14th of March current. Indeed it is telling that while many on libcom found a need to critique Wayne Price for leaning towards Hezbollah there was not the same reaction to al-Badil al-Chouii al-Taharruri earlier statement that the 14th of March current "constitutes a relatively ‘revolutionary’ current". On Anarkismo.net Wayne and some Lebanese anarchists who did indeed work alongside Hezbollah were just one pole of a debate yet it was that pole that attracted all the critique of the left communist mileu, the other was ignored.

Devrim wrote:
Does one then advocate that we should be involved in a movement like this alongside Hezbollah?

For me in Ireland on the basis of the information I have to hand it is impossible to say for certain. If there was the possibility that within the resistance to Israel there were "anti-authoratarian strands .. that .. seek to organise on a class rather then national, religious or ethnic basis" then yes I would consider this. The impression from afar was that Hezbollah had a fairly complete control over the movement but then this is always the impression as other currents tend to be tiny, localised and not fit into the easy picture the media likes to carry.

In the final analysis such a judgement will be made by the comrades on the ground who will also be best placed to consider security issues. And as we saw they may come to contradictory conclusions. But if such a strand did exist I think a so called 'soft' argument based on struggling against opppression alongside them would have much more of an impact on their thinking then a so called 'hard' argument that denounced their work.

Devrim wrote:
Can you give a link to the relevant position paper?

There are in fact two
Capitalist globalisation and imperialism
http://www.wsm.ie/story/825

The Partition of Ireland
http://www.wsm.ie/story/804

Devrim wrote:
…just to clarify something on the WSM’s position on union reform, do they see that these demands(7.6.5a in particular) are real achievable objectives, or are they a type of ‘transitional demand’?

7.6.5 is part of our paper on the unions, to be found at http://www.wsm.ie/story/423

In general we reject the method of transitional demands which are little more that the idea that the revolutionary organisation can trick the working class into revolution by getting the working class to fight for a reform that cannot be won.

So yes in the right circumstances (a period of mass struggle) we do see these demands (on democratic reform of unions) as something that could be won. Which is not to say that such a struggle is either easy or could take place tomorrow.

Devrim wrote:
Maybe if his ideas don’t represent the current they shouldn’t be distributed by organisations within this current.

There are two things to be said to this

a. This 'current' is an informal one, at its most formal limited to broad agreement with the Anarkismo 'Editoral statement' to be found at http://www.anarkismo.net/docs.php?id=1 Wayne writings represent one pole of opinion contained within the relevent part of that statement, ie We oppose imperialism but put forward anarchism as an alternative goal to nationalism. We defend grassroots anti-imperialist movements while arguing for an anarchist rather than nationalist strategy.

b. In general the purpose of theoretical and tactical unity is not so that we can all pretend to think 100% alike. It is so that the organisation has a position that it will argue within its publications and that will guide the involvement of its militants in struggle. It is not expected that every word a member utters whether in the pub or online is intended as the equivalent to an organisational statement.

Our Constitution - http://www.wsm.ie/story/32 - has this to say If they are speaking as a WSM member at any event they are expected not to contradict existing policies. This does not apply of they are speaking as a mandated delegate of a union or campaigning group. It also does not apply if they are speaking in an individual capacity at a debate or public meeting but in this case they should indicate that they are disagreeing with the policy of the WSM. WSM members on bulletin boards or indymedia write in such an individual capacity and we clarify this whenever someone tries to present that opinion as automatically being an organisational position.

c. Anarkismo.net is not an international and does not claim any 'theoretical and tactical unity' so even the limitations of b. do not apply to it. We exist as a point of information exchange and debate for anarchist communists and those interested in anarchist communism, our 'editorial statements' are limited to the running of the site itself and (sometimes) making explict that articles we carry do not fit even within our limited guidelines. On Lebonen the range of article we carried could not possibly be construed as a single position, they were quite contradictory and intended to provide information to comrades and outline the parameters of discussion within the movement there and internationally. We had neither 'the answer' nor the means to implement any answer we might have had so we didn't pretend otherwise.

I think part of the difference is that we do not imagine either that our organisations already have the answer to all problems that will arise or that history essentially stopped at some point in time and so all the answers from that point forwards are variations on the answer in 1914 (for instance). At least some left communists suffer form this affliction to a comical extent.

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Dec 23 2006 18:03
JoeBlack2 wrote:
My basic point would be many if not all NLM's have included proletarian strands, formal or informal, that sought to use the conditions created by such struggles to create radical working class democracy. These are often deeply buried in the history because remembering that agenda suits neither the imperialists, the (if victorous) new nationalist ruling class nor indeed any of the variants of leninism that promote unconditional support (which includes most if not all trotskyists).

Nobody is denying that workers get involved in national liberation struggles. We had a discussion within our own organisation earlier this year about whether the riots that were convulsing the South-East at the time had any working class content (for those who don‘t know there was a week of rioting in Kurdish areas in the spring in which about 15 people were killed). Of course people involved in these riots were mostly the young urban poor, and workers just as I believe they are in the Republican areas of Northern Ireland. The important question here is whether these type of struggles advance the cause of the working class. I believe that they don’t. I believe that they add to the increasing sectarian, and religious divisions that are opening up between different sectors of the working class across the entire Middle East. They are part of the process that paves the way to war. This does not mean that we support the state when it is shooting these people, or in anyway line up alongside the Turkish state.

On your point about these histories being buried by the new ruling class, I would suggest that anyone who starts to question the national interest has also been buried alongside them. Maybe a reason for not collaborating with them in the first place..

JoeBlack2 wrote:
Being really 'hard' but having no influence is pretty worthless.

It depends here where you are trying to spread your influence. We would argue that we are trying to spread our influence to workers who are not caught up in the ethnic/sectarian faction fighting. We are trying to create a current that looks to workers interests first, not to those of ethnic group, or sect. This can be difficult, and of course in Northern Ireland it is very difficult. I think that you would agree with me though when I say that ‘Protestant’ and ‘Catholic’ workers coming together scares the state more than a thousand IRA bombs. Of course it would be nice for us to have influence in the South East, but it should be remembered that the PKK have banned, on pain of death, some ‘leftist’ organisations who support them from operating there. What would they think of us.

JoeBlack2 wrote:
We try and avoid a mechanical 'one size fits all' analysis in relation to NL organisations as well. Onviously there is a rather large gap between the Zapatistas and Hezbollah, an analysis incapable of recognising this would be pretty useless.

I agree, which was why I said that:

Devrim wrote:
How you judge these groups, and what criteria you use would be an interesting topic.

JoeBlack2 wrote:
Lebanon is a situation I am no expert on but even so it appears reactionary blocs are also the be found in the 14th of March current. Indeed it is telling that while many on libcom found a need to critique Wayne Price for leaning towards Hezbollah there was not the same reaction to al-Badil al-Chouii al-Taharruri earlier statement that the 14th of March current "constitutes a relatively ‘revolutionary’ current". On Anarkismo.net Wayne and some Lebanese anarchists who did indeed work alongside Hezbollah were just one pole of a debate yet it was that pole that attracted all the critique of the left communist mileu, the other was ignored.

I think that you will find that we also condemned that current. The difference in reaction comes from the fact that we were in an argument with people who were supporting Hezbollah, and not with those support the 14th of March current. We argued against those who held Wayne Price’s position, and not against support for the 14th March current as they were the people who argued back against us.

JoeBlack2 wrote:
I'm unconvinced that the NLM's routinely are composed of or even include the most reactionary elements in society.Indeed this illustrates the often unspoken big nation nationalism implicit in the left communist position whereby the single big nation is assumed to have a progressive content then such movements can only undermine.

Certainly in the Middle east they do, the Imans, the bazaar, and the petty bourgeoisie in general. Let’s get on to the main point here though.

I think that here you are getting close to the accusation that you are on the side of the state because you don’t support national liberation. I think that non of our members are ‘completely ethnically Turkish’, though there is Kurdish, and Albanian blood there, and the only one of our supporters who is what you would call a ‘White Turk’, is probably the most anti Turkish nationalist person I know. To call us big nation nationalists is akin to saying you are on the side of the imperialists.

I will leave the trade union question until we have finished this one. That is if the thread isn’t taken over by idle chit-chat.

Devrim

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Dec 23 2006 18:12
dara wrote:
On the other hand, what mass movements are there for revolutionaries to get involved with that do allow this development? Do we wait around for a struggle that wholly represents the historical mission of the proletariat, or something? I'm genuinely interested in how you see working class struggle arising, and how the revolutionary organisation can get involved in this.

This question is asking about the basis of the activity of left communists. I think that revolutionaries both support and involve themselves in all of the struggles of the class for its own interests. This doesn’t mean that we agree with working in the mass organisations that are ‘leading’ this struggle.

Our organisation, which is very new (less than a year old), and small, publishes a monthly bulletin concentrating on worker’s struggles in Turkey, and leaflets at any large demonstration stressing the need for class struggle, and internationalism. In the future we hope to publish amore theoretical magazine, but obviously worker’s struggles come first.

Devrim

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Dec 24 2006 07:34

Our comments on the WSM's analysis of imperialism:
http://libcom.org/forums/thought/wsm-and-capitalist-globalisation-and-im...
Devrim

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Dec 27 2006 00:22

Firstly cheers for this thread devrim. Its nice to see this topic being debated in a sensible manner - something that very very rarely happens on libcom unfortunately.

Devrim wrote:
First, and most importantly I would like to ask why people think that the ‘Platformist’ trend has developed to be a collection of groups which share a common position that is pro-trade union work, and soft on national liberation struggles.

But on this specifically I see no reason for platformist groups to anti-trade union work, and anti every kind of national liberation struggle. Why they tend not to be I think is covered by what Joe says.

But in terms of organisational theory from what I've seen you right on other threads about organisational stuff I thought you were basically making a platformist argument. Couldn't be arsed digging up the thread but I remember you were basically saying what we'd say. Although obviously you and the EKS have different opinions of TUs and NLMs to me and the WSM, and I suppose most platformist groups. (And you dont call yourself an anarchist).

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Dec 27 2006 01:13
Devrim wrote:
First, and most importantly I would like to ask why people think that the ‘Platformist’ trend has developed to be a collection of groups which share a common position that is pro-trade union work, and soft on national liberation struggles.

I think this is basically due to the primacy of the WSM pushing Platformism and making contacts about the world trying to kickstart and influence new/nascent groups, I don't think it's anything inherent to "platformism". Look at the AF, for example, which was kinda platformist. I don't think NEFAC are soft on nationalism other than the 1 member - wayne.

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Dec 27 2006 02:12
John. wrote:
Devrim wrote:
First, and most importantly I would like to ask why people think that the ‘Platformist’ trend has developed to be a collection of groups which share a common position that is pro-trade union work, and soft on national liberation struggles.

I think this is basically due to the primacy of the WSM pushing Platformism and making contacts about the world trying to kickstart and influence new/nascent groups, I don't think it's anything inherent to "platformism". Look at the AF, for example, which was kinda platformist. I don't think NEFAC are soft on nationalism other than the 1 member - wayne.

In order not to derail the thread I've created a new thread here cos I dont see what difference you see between the wSM and NEFAC lines on nationalims and NLMs.

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Dec 27 2006 09:15
georgestapleton wrote:
But in terms of organisational theory from what I've seen you right on other threads about organisational stuff I thought you were basically making a platformist argument. Couldn't be arsed digging up the thread but I remember you were basically saying what we'd say. Although obviously you and the EKS have different opinions of TUs and NLMs to me and the WSM, and I suppose most platformist groups. (And you dont call yourself an anarchist).

'Making a platformist argument' is a strange way to put it, George. It makes it sound like Platformism wasn't a reaction against individualism, and anti-organisationalism inside the anarchist movement, but instead was prevalent across the entire workers movement. Platformism didn't invent the wheel. It would be more logical historically to say that the Platformists are making a Marxist argument, but I won't as enough people have said it before anyway.

Seriously of cause we share some precepts of organisation in that we both believe in having a workable one, and certain things are necessary. I think that ours are probably tighter than the anarchist ones, for example we wouldn't allow members to publish articles at odds with our basic principles.

Devrim

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Dec 27 2006 14:48
Devrim wrote:
I think that non of our members are ‘completely ethnically Turkish’, though there is Kurdish, and Albanian blood there, and the only one of our supporters who is what you would call a ‘White Turk’, is probably the most anti Turkish nationalist person I know. To call us big nation nationalists is akin to saying you are on the side of the imperialists.

I'm not sure what the relevance of the ethnic makup of such a small organisation is except perhaps to try and make a nationalist argument against nationalism by inverting its logic. In Ireland there are a whole range of nationalist terms for those who are perceived to take a side other than that they were born to showing that even nationalists acknowledge that the nation is not quite as natural as they like to think. But anyway the examples I gave were actually in connection with Britian rather than Turkey although I find you 'indignation' a bit compical given your consistent jibes about being 'soft' on nationalism.

In any case why does my use of 'big nation nationalism' cause such a stir every time I use it. It is the elephant in the living room in many of the discussions on here. It is obviously something that exists and takings marxs phrase about the dominant ideas in an epoch being those of the ruling class we should expect 'big nation nationalism' in countries where there is a constitutional question (eg Britain, Turkey) to be the dominant ideas in the working class and thus potentially of some influence on the left. A so called anti-nationalist conversation in which even rasing the possibility of 'big nation nationalism' having an influence results in people glaring at you is quite telling I think. All the more so when this is then used as an authomatic put down in other threads.

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Dec 27 2006 22:02
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I'm not sure what the relevance of the ethnic makup of such a small organisation is except perhaps to try and make a nationalist argument against nationalism by inverting its logic. In Ireland there are a whole range of nationalist terms for those who are perceived to take a side other than that they were born to showing that even nationalists acknowledge that the nation is not quite as natural as they like to think.

So you equate supporting the other nationalists in a conflict with supporting neither? You regard the conflict between "class consciousness" and "national consciousness" as "inverted nationalism" and compare this to people who support the other nationalists? Well, this explains a lot about your understanding of internationalism.

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Dec 28 2006 08:28
Leo Uilleann wrote:

So you equate supporting the other nationalists in a conflict with supporting neither? You regard the conflict between "class consciousness" and "national consciousness" as "inverted nationalism" and compare this to people who support the other nationalists? Well, this explains a lot about your understanding of internationalism.

So you support the brutal suppression of the working class under a dictatorship. You regard the suppression of strikes and the executions of strikers as a good thing providing it is done by the party. Well this explains a lot about your understanding of communism.

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Dec 28 2006 10:19
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So you support the brutal suppression of the working class under a dictatorship. You regard the suppression of strikes and the executions of strikers as a good thing providing it is done by the party.

Haha, which part of your ass did you take that from?

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Dec 28 2006 20:29

JoeBlack's last post is presumeably an oblique accusation about supporting the suppression of Kronstadt. A quite ridiculous thing to throw at Leo given the number of posts he's done on that subject.

Perhaps JoeBlack thinks he can get away with this because Leo has repeatedly criticised people who demonise Lenin?

And yet there is a pedigree to the argument that the anti-nationalist position (as defended for example by Luxemburg, or, within the Bolshevik party, by Piatakov and Bukharin during the first world war and early days of the Russian revolution) is really a defence of 'big nation chauvinism'. It was none other than Lenin who put this forward in order to support the slogan of national self-determination.

But I don't want to demonise Lenin either. This was a question that could be debated among revolutionaries because at that time there were not so many experiences of how national liberation ideology would be used to crush the working class. It was above all this experience (for example, Turkey 1921, China 1927) which led revolutionaries to revise the old notion that they could make temporary alliances with national movements.

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Dec 29 2006 11:37
Alf wrote:
Perhaps JoeBlack thinks he can get away with this because Leo has repeatedly criticised people who demonise Lenin?

Oh dear I thought it was obvious what I was doing but I'll explain it for the slow.

Leo had quoted a bit of my text and then proceeded with a reply that had little or no relationship with the text quoted. He was projecting what he thought I thought and replying to his own imagination. Really only a slightly less obvious form of trolling in fact.

Rather than be boring and point this out I simply did the same thing back in order to illustrate the stupidity of that methodology.

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Dec 29 2006 18:30

I am no doubt a bit slow but it still seems to me that Leo was quite right, ie, that when you use the argument about the unspoken chauvinism of militants in 'Big Nations', you are precisely making an amalgm between people who oppose all nationalisms, big and small, and those who support 'their own' (big) nations against national liberation movements. In other words: if I refuse to support the Vietcong during the Vietnam war, I am objectively siding with US imperialism. The Trotskyists today apply the same logic to those who denounce Hamas, Hezbollah or the Iraqi 'resistance'. And to be very honest I cannot see the difference between your position and theirs. Perhaps you would like to explain it?

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AndrewF
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Dec 29 2006 20:52
Alf wrote:
Perhaps you would like to explain it?

Sure.

Its very simple.

You invented my 'position' then you asked me to explain your invention. So there is nothing for me to explain.

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Felix Frost
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Dec 29 2006 20:53
JoeBlack2 wrote:
It is probably also significant that at least in the Anglo sphere the 'platformists' are the only anarchists who have tried to seriously analyise imperialism and anti-imperialism and sketch a detailed anarchist program. Others have been happy sticking to what they imagine are traditional anarchist slogans and not developing a program for action.

Based on your position paper and what I have seen on anarkismo.net, I'll have to say that I'm less than impressed with this "serious analysis." I would also like to know what you see as the difference between your position and the traditional leninist view on imperialism.

In your position paper you write:

Quote:
In conflicts between two imperialists or regional, ethnic or religious groups we argue that for the workers in the countries their enemy is their own ruling class. Their allies are the working class of the enemy state. On this basis we would seek to undermine the war effort.

but also

Quote:
In the case of National Liberation Movement we defend the struggle against imperialism while attacking the nationalist basis of this struggle.

I would like to clarify this: If it there is a conflict between two imperialists, you oppose both sides, but what if an imperialist power attacks a minor nation? Do you than support the "oppressed nation" against the imperialists, or do you still oppose both sides? Wayne Price have argued strongly for the former position, and I frankly think it is an embarrassment for the platformist current that this view were left virtually unopposed on anarkismo.net.

wangwei
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Dec 29 2006 21:22

I'm going to have to weigh in here and say that I do find it upsetting how soft it seems the anarchist movement is on nationalism. I can understand

Quote:
In the case of National Liberation Movement we defend the struggle against imperialism while attacking the nationalist basis of this struggle.

as advancing what Makhno did in the ukraine of horizontally linking the struggle against Deniken and the Whites to the struggle to bridge the divide between the working class. Makhno did try to unite town and country and to use the nationlism of the working class to fight against all forms of authoritarianism. I would say that this would be an anarchist use of nationalism.

Having said that, we have to understand that nationalism is a way of the ruling class hiding the class struggle behind the veil of a superficial commanlity. The synthesis of the anarchist movement must define itself in antithesis to the bourgeois notions of nationalism. In The German Ideology, Marx explicitly states that only by the unification of the working class can those cultures peculiar to geographic areas be able to develop. Unification of the working class against the ruling class and the divisions that they impose is crucial to destroying capitalism.

The fact that NEFAC is soft on nationalism has irritated me, as Wayne Price is advancing some neo Trotskyism when he puts forward the "oppressor against the oppressed" crap. I find in that argument the seeds of Mao's three world theory.

We do need to work in the National LIberation Movements to create the Anarchist praxis there and help to get the workers to define themselves in opposition to the nation. The working class needs to see the state for what it is, and all of the social constructs of that state -- nationalism, patriotism, and big nation chauvenism -- as just tools to divde the working class.

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Dec 29 2006 23:33

Devrim: In response to your first post, I'd say that the influence of Daniel Guerin and Alternative Libertaire has quite a bit to do with it. When I read his "Anarchism" years ago it was the first "red" anarchist piece i'd read that was somewhat contemporary, but even then I was very uncomfortable by the support he gave to "self-management" in Yugoslavia and Algeria. To my understanding, AL, which he helped found, are not only highly involved in the SUD union confederation in France (my understanding is that they were instrumental in it breaking away from the CGT and many of them are officers), but they are even soft on elections, having campaigned for a Communist in one election and campaigning against le Pen in another. (If anyone knows better than me on this, please correct me). Al-badil al-chooi al-taharouri seem to be a spawned group (the name apparently means "libertarian alternative" and AL helped them print thousands of copies of DG's "Anarchism" in the nineties) and so it would not surprise me if they have an ambiguous relationship with leftism in Lebanon.

John: There are at least two others in NEFAC who have similar views to Wayne on national liberation. I think you are right to say that NEFAC are generally not soft on nationalism though.

Wangwei: I would disagree that Makhno made any compromises with Ukrainian nationalism (and if I thought he did, I would support him far less). Remember that he allied with the Red Army while he was fighting Petliura's Ukrainian nationalists.

Leo
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Dec 30 2006 08:40
Quote:
Leo had quoted a bit of my text and then proceeded with a reply that had little or no relationship with the text quoted. He was projecting what he thought I thought and replying to his own imagination. Really only a slightly less obvious form of trolling in fact.

Oh, little Joey, you look really silly when your entire counter arguments are based on making excuses for dodging questions that would actually make you look bad. Well, that's the way to mate! Cheers...

wangwei
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Dec 30 2006 21:38
Quote:
Oliver twister:
Wangwei: I would disagree that Makhno made any compromises with Ukrainian nationalism (and if I thought he did, I would support him far less). Remember that he allied with the Red Army while he was fighting Petliura's Ukrainian nationalists.

I think we have a misunderstanding Oliver. I'm trying to say that Makhno did not make any compromises with bourgeois nationalism, but he did play to the very real geographic, linguistic, and cultural ties of the region. He made the struggle as horizontal as possible and linked it to as many causes as possible.

To not see the way that he carried out the struggle by missing the role that he used "nationalism" in it is a mistake. I despise all forms of bourgeois nationalism, yet I do recognize that there are material cultural simularities that will untie many people. I don't want to disregard these ties on the way to emancipating them, for again, the working class must define itself in opposition to the bourgeois state.

I think Makhno's "nationalism" would be a great discussion to have on another thread since it does illustrate some contradictions that he resolved in an interesting manner.