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Tired of the ICC?

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Blacknred Ned
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Sep 18 2006 12:49

JK, I take your point about pipers and rats, I am just afraid that I don't trust people who say that they share libertarian dreams but prescribe authoritarian ways to get there. As I understand it Marx's great contribution was really the dissection of capitalism; I believe we can dismiss clunky old structuralist history, millenarianism by any other name. Well capitalism & the world has moved on, one might well argue that more can be learned about capitalism by reading modern liberal economists than Marx: try Keynes; Galbraith; Friedman even. I don't need Marx to tell me I'm being screwed & in that I'm not alone.

Alf wrote

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Are you not yourself "in advance" of the rest of the class?

Now Alf, there is an interesting question and contrary to what you believe I am afraid the answer is no. Firstly I wonder at this reification of the working class that seems to be your standby. What there is is billions of people Alf; they are individuals not elements & they are not dancing to some waltz played by history for them to follow.

Time and again revolutions have started when vanguardists have last expected it; popular movements have thrown up forms of organisation to move them towards a new society. In very many, if not all cases, the interventions of self-proclaimed vanguards has done nothing but hijack or derail such spontaneous flowerings of the urge for liberty.

How can we say we are in are in advance if we are uncertain of the direction events will take, and how can we be certain of that direction unless we subscribe to some mystical notion of history that is no different from a whole host of religions that rely on the sacred words of long dead prophets?

Arguments need to be made free of prophecy and on the basis of reason.

john
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Sep 18 2006 12:56

Alf,

I think one of the core problems with the ICC is that they fail to follow their own stated principle of internationalism.

The ICC openly claims to be highly exclusive

see here

icc wrote:
the degree of their agreement with our political positions is not in itself sufficient to become a member of the ICC. Candidates must also show their will to defend the positions of the organisation, each according to his or her own personal capacities.

they also say

ICC wrote:
comrades who want to join the ICC have to avoid any immediatism, any impatience in the process of integration

by drawing such sharp dividing lines between members of the ICC and the rest of the world, I think the ICC acts to perpetuate social divisions that can only be described as uninternationalist.

What is needed here is a clear and strong argument for internationalism, and fraternisation and solidarity across all boundaries. This surely means an end to such exclusive groups as the ICC (and the boundaries it creates between itself and the rest of the world), which only act to divide international society up into small cliques unable to exert any form of social power or effect social change.

The ICC, therefore, are inherently conservative as they divide international society up into miniscule, ineffectual groups. This leaves the space open for existing powerful interests to continue to do as they please.

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Joseph Kay
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Sep 18 2006 12:54
john wrote:
The point is that individuals exist. Of course they enter into social relationships, but these are multiple, fragmentary, changing, and complex.

so you don't think class exists?

john wrote:
I don't think I have any special access to knowledge/thought that places me in a priviliged position from which to orchestrate/facilitate social change.

i agree with that, i read a lot, have all sorts of opinions and analyses, some of which are similar to the ICC, but that doesn't mean i have any claim to being more 'advanced' or whatever or possessing some grand historical truth. nonetheless, the definition of a vanguard as those workers who temporally lead a struggle is almost a truism, some group walks out, occupies their workplace etc first, of course - but what's that got to do with having a purist marxist sect that demands "a loyal, disinterested dedication to the proletarian cause, a real will to defend the precious instrument of the organisation whenever it is attacked, denigrated and slandered by the forces of the bourgeoisie and their accomplices in the parasitic milieu" - a program that explicitly demands loyalty to the organisation in possession of The TruthTM over anything else - (a.k.a. 'the parasitic milieu').

john
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Sep 18 2006 13:00
Joseph K. wrote:
so you don't think class exists?

not class.

maybe classes.

but even these are porous categories that really aren't able to capture the complexity of social reality.

I'm happier to talk about social groups, which themselves have overlapping and shifting memberships.

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Joseph Kay
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Sep 18 2006 13:01
Blacknred Ned wrote:
Well capitalism & the world has moved on, one might well argue that more can be learned about capitalism by reading modern liberal economists than Marx: try Keynes; Galbraith; Friedman even. I don't need Marx to tell me I'm being screwed & in that I'm not alone.

well, of course you don't need to read Marx, but bourgeois economists like those you mention (who i've read, btw), don't tell us much about capitalism except how to manage it better, we can only read between the lines with an understanding of capitalism from another perspective, which could come from reading marx or from getting screwed at work (or both wink ). I mean marx is no more out of date than adam smith, who's still served up in *ahem* liberal quantities in business schools as the founding father of capitalist theory - although of course he's been refined and surpassed, he's still a crucial point of reference.

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Joseph Kay
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Sep 18 2006 13:10
john wrote:
Joseph K. wrote:
so you don't think class exists?

not class.

maybe classes.

but even these are porous categories that really aren't able to capture the complexity of social reality.

I'm happier to talk about social groups, which themselves have overlapping and shifting memberships.

well, yeah, classes, one class needs another, by definition (thought experiments on another thread notwithstanding). i agree classes don't capture the complexity of social reality, no conceptual framework really can. this is why its pointless to apply class analysis to individiuals for example, i.e. 'you work in a factory, you are revolutionary', 'you own shares, you would side with the forces of reaction if it came to the crunch' etc. But that doesn't mean class analysis is not useful at an aggregate level. its a bit like newtonian physics, to which post-structuralist micropolitics self-conciously tries to be the quantum mechanics - class analysis is very helpful in understanding broad social patterns, historical events, class confrontations like strikes and the like, but is best supplemented by something else - psychoanalysis, post-structuralism, thorsten veblen (if he floats your boat wink ) - when looking at the small scale.

john
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Sep 18 2006 13:14

yes, I agree

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Joseph Kay
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Sep 18 2006 13:17
john wrote:
yes, I agree

excellent, shall we start a cult? wink

john
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Sep 18 2006 13:25

ok, but if anyone wants to integrate themselves into it they better be prepared to spend a LONG time convincing us they REALLY agree with us first.

OK?

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Joseph Kay
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Sep 18 2006 18:44

and of course they must convince us that they are loyal, dedicated and most of all passionately disinterested tongue

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Joseph Kay
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Sep 18 2006 19:06

given as i couldn't care less, can i sit the entry exam now?

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Alf
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Sep 18 2006 19:19

And your critique of loyalty and dedication to the proletarian cause would be....?

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Joseph Kay
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Sep 18 2006 19:19
revol68 wrote:
Well if you didn't care you wouldn't bother asking.

rumbled sad

now i'm off out for a pint and kebab, so i too can passionately defend disinterested international communism at the top of my voice at 3am wink

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Joseph Kay
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Sep 18 2006 19:22
Alf wrote:
And your critique of loyalty and dedication to the proletarian cause would be....?

notably you dropped the word we're mocking - 'disinterested'

and again you're identifying 'the proletarian cause' with The TruthTM that is the sole possession of the ICC

Blacknred Ned
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Sep 18 2006 19:58

JK wrote:

Quote:
but bourgeois economists like those you mention (who i've read, btw), don't tell us much about capitalism except how to manage it better,

I particularly like this JK as attempting to manage capitalism better is exactly what every single Marxist who has ever got his grubby hands on the levers of power has ended up doing. cool

I cannot believe that I was away when the cult was being formed! Have I blown it? Do I have to apply for membership? How long is the process of proving my disinterest likely to take? Btw, do you actually mean uninterested or is that the next door down the hall?

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Joseph Kay
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Sep 18 2006 20:07
Blacknred Ned wrote:
I particularly like this JK as attempting to manage capitalism better is exactly what every single Marxist who has ever got his grubby hands on the levers of power has ended up doing. cool

which is why i'm an anarchist communist cool

oh ned, you've fallen into the same trap as me, by asking about the cult you've already shown too much interest. afaik, its like jazz, if you have to ask ... wink

Blacknred Ned
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Sep 18 2006 20:12

Oh crap! sad

john
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Sep 18 2006 20:15
Alf wrote:
And your critique of loyalty and dedication to the proletarian cause would be....?

vanguardist

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Alf
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Sep 18 2006 23:02

Yesterday I thought we were having a discussion about class consciousness and how communist organisations are produced. Today it's turned into a little boy's club.

You can criticise the language (or in some cases, the translation) of ICC texts. Sometimes they are too formal, too internal, whatever. But I asked a serious question. Why is it laughable or loony to talk about communists as people who are dedicated to changing the world, who are loyal to the principles they hold to and the organisations they have created? And yes, disinterested. Poor translation perhaps, but the word exists in English. It means that you join the movement not for personal gain, not to satisfy your own ego, but to become part of an association, a collectivity. It doesn't mean sinking your individuality into an impersonal or totalitarian cult. Isn't that the essence of the bourgeois campaigns about the 'death of communism': anyone who could devote themselves to a crazy, discredited dream like communism has to be brainwashed or mad, surely?

If you want to answer my questions seriously, let's continue the debate by all means. If you want to carry on sniggering, then let's end this thread now. I never was very keen on the title anyway.

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Joseph Kay
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Sep 19 2006 07:28

alf, i'm sure you're not so humourless as to have missed the kernel of truth in our mockery, which revol alludes to. you say its about unselfish dedication to the cause, not about ego etc ... but i am a communist precisely because i want to improve my life - as well as that of others, and not at their expense. To remove personal motivations for militancy is to repeat a representational, liberal-ngo type mentality that we have to dedicate ourselves to the specialised help of others, not to collectively act for ourselves.

john
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Sep 19 2006 07:52
Alf wrote:
Why is it laughable or loony to talk about communists as people who are dedicated to changing the world, who are loyal to the principles they hold to and the organisations they have created? And yes, disinterested.

the point, surely, is that changing the world has to come from desire, not from the suppression of desire.

The way you describe it, social change is going to come about by miserable bastards doing something they don't really want to do, on behalf of an ignorant mass of people who don't want what you're trying to create.

This isn't very tempting, and AFAIK no-one on these boards accepts this view of politics/social change.

This is the tired, old, Marxist/Leninist model of doing politics - which a lot of the people on these boards vehemently oppose.

I think this is the reason why you get so much stick on these boards.

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Alf
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Sep 19 2006 08:21

John wrote:

"The way you describe it, social change is going to come about by miserable bastards doing something they don't really want to do, on behalf of an ignorant mass of people who don't want what you're trying to create".

No, that's not the way I describe it, it's the way you interpret it. I don't see militancy as some kind of Christian sacrifice, something I don't really want to do. The struggle for communism engages the best of your creative and social energies, and is in itself a source of pleasure. Where we differ is perhaps in our definition of pleasure. Marx, who greatly admired Fourier, nevertheless criticised him for reducing creative activity to "mere fun", whereas as far as he was concerned truly creative activity was also "damned hard work". This never stopped him from recognising the need for creative activity to reintegrate the best of childhood play into itself, as Fourier proposed, but for the adult it has to be a synthesis at a higher level, not a mere regression to childishness.

As for the masses not "wanting" communism, I would say that at the explicit, conscious level, the vast majority of humanity indeed don't "want" it except during a revolution, which is precisely why communists aren't just the same as everyone else. There is of course a whole dimension of suppressed need and hidden desire which can and must become conscious if there is to be a communist revolution.

john
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Sep 19 2006 09:21
Alf wrote:

No, that's not the way I describe it, it's the way you interpret it. I don't see militancy as some kind of Christian sacrifice, something I don't really want to do.

Then how does this fit with the idea of disinterest?

alf wrote:
As for the masses not "wanting" communism, I would say that at the explicit, conscious level, the vast majority of humanity indeed don't "want" it except during a revolution, which is precisely why communists aren't just the same as everyone else. There is of course a whole dimension of suppressed need and hidden desire which can and must become conscious if there is to be a communist revolution.

I agree with this in part, but for me the point of opening up that hidden desire is through mutual discussion, cooperation, etc., without a preconception of what that hidden desire is constituted by and how it can be realized. As far as I can tell you already have a pretty clear idea of what the hidden desires are and even more so of how they could be realized - Communism.

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the button
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Sep 19 2006 08:29
Alf wrote:
It means that you join the movement not for personal gain, not to satisfy your own ego, but to become part of an association, a collectivity.

This is sounding rather familiar

Serious point, btw.

ernie
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Sep 19 2006 11:44

John, by disinterst we mean that the aim of ones militancy is not to make a career of being a militant, to gain some form of social recognistion for being a militant, to use one membership of a communist organisation for personal gain, to seek to rid on the back of an organisation in order to inflate one's own ego, but rather to put one's passionate desire to contribute to the struggle to free humanity from the horror of capitalism, at the disposal of the organisation, because it is only through organised collective and centralised activity that as a militant you can make the most effective contribution to the struggle of the proletariat. The comradeship, solidarity and passion of such activity is one of the highest expressions of humanity activity there can be: to consciously struggle with ones comrades for the goal of communism.
An example of this disinterest is graphically expressed in the article we have produced on our coomrade who recently died (http://en.internationalism.org/wr/294_clara to have militated with this comrade and her partner comrade MC was to have militated with all those comrades who faced with the triumphant of Stalinism, the terrible weight of the counter-revolution, didn't spit on marxism, or the titanic experience of 1917-23, did reject organised activity or retreat into individualism, but who stood up against the tide and in the very depth of the worst slaughter of the Second World War were able to make an organised defence of internationalism, to distribute leaflets to German and other troops as best they could. Who risked life and limb in order to develop a proletarian organisation that was able to produce a press, leaflets and a focal point. Something those who reject organisation could not have done and will be able to do in the future.

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Joseph Kay
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Sep 19 2006 11:53
ernie wrote:
Something those who reject organisation could not have done and will be able to do in the future.

here we go, if you reject centralised organisation you obviously reject organisation altogether roll eyes

thats a pretty poor argument for someone who knows the prevailing politics on this board are pro-organisation, anti-centralisation

ernie
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Sep 19 2006 12:20

Joseph where do I say that rejection of centralised organisation means rejection of organisation altogether? Rejection of centralised organisation does mean not providing the most effective means of organisation possible. Throughout the history of the working class it has sort to centralise its organisations. Thus, it is not a poor argument, when whilst most of those using this forum do support organisation, there is a tendency to reject centralised organisation. Also if I remember correctly someone did say this was a discussion about vanguardism or not, so how can be defending the need for a vanguard organisation be a poor argument?

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Joseph Kay
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Sep 19 2006 12:27

you talked of the need for centralised organisation, then said its achievements were something those opposed to organisation could never achieve, a straw man that implies anyone who differs from your view of organisation is politically impotent.

i'm not even going to bother arguing against centralised power on an anarchist board, suffice to say it has indeed proved the "most effective means" throughout history to reconstitute a new ruling class, and it's exactly this latent leninism which people here take issue with.

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Alf
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Sep 19 2006 12:32

A workers' council is a form of centralised proletarian organisation - argue against that.

nastyned
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Sep 19 2006 12:34
Alf wrote:
A workers' council is a form of centralised proletarian organisation - argue against that.

No it's not it's a federal form of proletarian organisation. There you go! smile