Anarchosyndicalism against fascism: a response to recent insinuations

Spanish anarcho syndicalists in 1936 fighting the fascists
Spanish anarcho syndicalists in 1936 fighting the fascists

There may be problems with some people who identify with anarchosyndicalism, but it is not because there is any inherent correlation between it and fascism.

Submitted by akai on October 31, 2015

The question of anarchosyndicalism's theoretical stands against fascism, as well as it's long history of fighting against it, is certainly deserving of a long, well-documented article. But that is not what this is going to be. Rather, l would like to take on some recent insinuations, published in relation to the Michael Schmidt case, that there is some sort of inherent link between fascist ideology and anarchosyndicalism. This idea, l find, is grossly incorrect, but one which has been floating around for a while. However, as l come from a region where anarchists have actually flirted with fascists and sometimes ideas have intersected, l am interested in seeing how this can happen, with a view towards eliminating racist, nationalist, ethnopluralist and other ideas unworthy of an egalitarian anarchist movement.

A few weeks ago, one anarchist was observed linking syndicalism to fascism on the internet and now, in the 5th part of the expose on Michael Schmidt, Alexander Reid Ross and Joshua Stevens seem to posit whether there is a positive correlation between national and anarchist syndicalism. What they are saying is not exactly clear for me and l will quote the passages to let readers contemplate what is being said.

„A clear example of this strategy appears in Schmidt’s understanding of nationalism and anarchism in terms of syndicalist thought. “I don’t think that there is any real correlation between anarchist syndicalism and national syndicalism,” Schmidt told us in our interview — a strange denial given that a number of origin voices within national syndicalism, including Mussolini, Valois, and De Ambris, either had been or were supporters of anarchism. However, Schmidt did admit, in a rather glaring contradiction of his own stated views, “I do feel that there is the possibility of purist syndicalism in the post-revolutionary period approximate [to] national syndicalism[.]” In other words, as in the case of the “proper Boerestaat,” a de facto white nationalist state in Africa could function on the basis of syndicalism — i.e., there is not only a correlation, but a positive correlation between national and anarchist syndicalism.”
and
„Schmidt sought to forward white nationalism using an approximation of anarchist syndicalism as leverage to reopen the colonial legacy of the Afrikaner volkstaat. „

Due to somewhat ambiguous language, l could imagine that either the authors are claiming Michael Schmidt sees a correlation between national and anarchosyndicalism, or that they do. ln either case, the correlation is posited in the article.

ln my opinion, anarchosyndicalism cannot have any correlation with national syndicalism for exactly the same reason that anarchism cannot have any correlation with national anarchism. Both anarchism and anarchosyndicalism, are ideas which are supposed to be essentially egalitarian, therefore, all other ideas which divide people or assign them hierarchical roles in society are anathema to the beautiful idea that l and many comrades hold in our hearts: a world where the divisive and categorizing ideas of nationalists really have no place.

l really don't think this should be hard to understand. National anarchists exist, they call themselves anarchists, but for most legitimate anarchists, they are people who have encroached on our idea and perverted it. There is no shortage of anarchists screaming at the top of their lungs that National Anarchism is not anarchism, just like there is no shortage of anarchosyndicalists fighting against national syndicalism and other ideas related to nationalism and fascism.

This should be painfully obvious. Therefore, anybody who argues that there is some intrinsic correlation between anarchosyndicalism and national syndicalism or fascism, in my opinion, is mostly tendaciously showing their dislike of this anarchist tendency. Because why would anyone give credibility to the anarchists denouncing National Anarchism, but not to the anarchosyndicalists denouncing national syndicalism? Why not say anarchism has a correlation with National Anarchism because some nationalists wanna call themselves anarchists?

This, of course, does not mean that there is no problem for anarchosyndicalism in relation to nationalism and other matters. But simply this problem is similar to the problem faced by any other anarchist: how to keep these ideas away and effectively fight their growth. lt may come as a surprise to the ones insinuating otherwise, but anarchosyndicalists, at least the legit ones, are no less antifascist then they are.

Since l have been talking about the problems of nationalist ideas encroaching on the anarchist movement for the last 25 years, l certainly hope that none of the „syndicalism is close to fascism” people will claim that l support a fascist ideology or something of the sort. l hope rather that they will hear me out and stop making such insinuations that are essentially untrue.

To deal with the issue itself, the encroachment of nationalist ideas has been a problem in the places l lived, Russia and Poland, but it is clearly not limited to these. For example, there are also some types of nationalists in Spain. And if we talk about fascism, we can see that in the US, for the last 40 or so years, there have been tendencies which clearly were attractive to the far right. lf we put a microscope to it, we would find that some post-left celebrities had considerable interaction with essentially right-wing nuts and even came out in defense of white secessionist militias (like Hakim Bey, who l debated the issue with more than once).

This problem clearly is not something exclusive to anarchosyndicalism. To say so is ingenuine. lt would be like saying that some ecological anarchists went to the far-right, so there is a correlation between ecology and fascism.

l am curious what Reid Ross will say about Russia. (There is a chapter about it in his upcoming book.) There were quite serious problems there and, what might be news for some, is that, quite sadly, the problem was noticeable in certain circles of people calling themselves „antifascist”. l wonder if Reid Ross also will expose the long cooperation of some Russian „anti-fascists” with Russian nationalists?

ln case people are not aware, antifascism has a long tradition as an official ideology, promoted by the state in some countries. ln these places, a type of patriotic anti-fascism developed. There are also traditions of patriotic leftism, such as the PPS in Poland. Currently, with the situation in Ukraine, we saw a strong move of nationalist antifascism, trying to pass itself off as something „anti-imperialist” and gaining support amongst people in places like Spain, ltaly and Greece. Some anarchists were among those supporting.

ln Russia, the organization Autonom, plus projects connected to it, had many people who fell into the patriotic camp and eventually it had a split, with nationalists and homophobes breaking off or forming their own distinctive faction. The problems with their increasingly frequent cooperation with nationalist elements and problems with discussion with this had gone on for many years.

A rather long article would be needed to understand all the intricacies of this, but maybe l could mention one case to illustrate how certain ideas get legitimized in anarchist movements. National identity, as people may know, has been a point of manipulation by the Soviet state and then later by Russia. Patriotism has always been fueled by threats from the outside. ln recent years, this has grown to include threats to „unique Russianness”. The global world is seen as encroaching on Russian culture. With these ideas, people who were nationalists were able to pass themselves off in the anti-globalist movement with no problem. So one of the main Eurasianists of Ukraine was active in the PGA for a bit (and was their „infopoint”) and lndymedia chartered a right-wing nut in Russia … This kind of thing was becoming rather common since many leftists and some anarchists are focused anti-Westernism and anti-Americanism and see it as some equivalent of their ideas. Nationalists were able to go around in these movements, presenting their ideas as some legitimate defense of their ethnicity. And many an anarchist defended this as being distinctly different than nationalism.
ln the case of one person, who currently is one of the right-wing „anarchists” and homophobes poisoning the scene in Russia, a huge amount of debate was generated concerning his ideas. ln this case, we found anarchosyndicalists in Russia presenting very coherent argument, comparing his ideas to ethnopluralism and pointing out the problems for anarchists. ln short, the ideas of this person mean that people of other ethnicities inherently threaten pure ethnic identities, thus a king of cultural separation must remain in place.

l wouldn't like to get into all the details, arguments and counterarguments of this case because l had enough of it already when it was happening. But l would add that anarchists were threatening to beat up one of the anarchosyndicalists making the anti-nationalist analyses. Later, the mood of homophobia increased amongst self-professed anarchists. Arguing shit like, LGBT issues divide or scare the working class and are „secondary” (an argument we've heard numerous times in Poland as well), some homophobic anarchist tendencies grew, threatening LGBT activists who wanted to participate in some demonstrations. Then actually there was a physical attack on another anarchosyndicalist for their support of joint actions with feminist and LGBT activists.

Here, l specifically mention the positions of my anarchosyndicalist comrades for a reason. lt was they who most consistently, over many years, criticized the influx of not only national, discriminatory and neo-fascist ideas into the anarchist scene and clearly said that we have nothing in common with them. On the contrary, some anarchists took the position that we should in fact find the common things and only that attitude could result in the growth of the anarchist movement. The other attitude, more critical, was usually labelled „sectarianism”.

(Now, when a few of their old comrades are more clearly close to fascism, they create the narrative that they were „infiltrated” or that people changed their views.)

This is important because l believe there is some kind of connection with tendencies to water down anarchism to a minimum, seek out common points with as many people as possible and to becoming the victim of fascist and nationalist influence. l don't want to make this into an absolute correlation – because it isn't. But l see this to be a tendency where l live as well.

ln Poland there is a very long history of anarchist cooperation with the right and the influx of right ideas. A careful study of our „secret stash” in our library is very telling. The „secret stash” started years ago when we decided that we couldn't, in good conscious, sell certain „anarchist” or anti-globalists publications that we kept getting from people, so we put all that stuff in the refrigerator, where it could be read rather by people who wanted to criticize it. The stash contained lots of shit, like articles saying things like if the author doesn't like black people, it's not anarchist to force him to be with them, or booklets espousing something close to national syndicalism, discussing Sorel's and Pilsudski's ideas. The anarchist movement, in short, produced a lot of shit in their publications and continues to sell more, in the name of „open-mindedness”. For, for example, if you go now to Poznan, you can find a new right-wing book on Franco sold in the anarchist bookstore. Since some of my comrades were involved with the arguments on that, let's just say that, in short, there are enough anarchists who will argue that anarchist bookstores have some sort of moral right to sell things like this and are not too concerned that they are actually spreading dangerous ideas.

lf we dig deeper, we probably would find some more people around the world whose idea of libertarian behaviour would legitimize the distribution of books published by the far-right.

The difference of opinion on this issue has been sharply debated here for at least the last 15 years. Most recently this has been a topic in the anarchosyndicalist movement, so here l will add something to the question of whether or not anarchosyndicalism can have any correlations with national syndicalism.

Last year, during elections, at least two members of the organization Workers' lnitiative, which sometimes calls itself anarchosyndicalist (although sometimes not), ran in elections with fascists or right-wing nationalists. The more famous case was in my city (Warsaw) and the member is a very prominent member of that union and long-time activist. lt was famous enough that the mainstream press printed an article about it as well. Again, l will not go through all the details and arguments because it is simply sickening.

We never hid the fact that this happened (although we see plenty of people trying not to see this, just like some people did not want to come to terms with the fact that Schmidt is a sleazy racist and probably worse). But we reject any notion that this proves that anarchosyndicalists are close to fascists. Because for us, this is just more proof that these people are not anarchosyndicalists. And just like anarchists have a moral right to say that National Anarchists are not anarchists, anarchosyndicalists also have the right to say that certain people or tendencies are not anarchosyndicalist, no matter how they might label themselves.

The justifications l heard for many weeks during the internet debates of this topic showed that, despite all the references these people made to anarchosyndicalism, they were quite far from these ideas. lt is important to note that only many, many weeks after did the organization respond, claiming that member simply did not know he was running in elections with a few fascists. And the explanation that „we criticized him”, was taken a sufficient for some organizations to declare the problem solved. ln fact, most of the criticism instead went to anarchosyndicalists who opposed this, who were attacked while defending their members' rights to do as they want. This has been argued for many years as the definition of freedom and anarchism. Tellingly, the whole incident did not result in any expulsion or similar process against that person, who was back on the street at a demo with at least one of the fascists shortly after.

l don't think here l have to explain much why electoral escapades and fascists have nothing to do with our anarchosyndicalist ideals. What is more relevant is the way that they justify these things to themselves. That is, by arguing, among other things, that a union cannot invigilate in the politics of their individual members.

ln my opinion, this is not a question of invigilating or not; it is a question of taking clear stands and consistantly incorporating this into your organizational politics. Anarchosyndicalism, by definition, is connected to the creation of anarchism and is more clearly interested in anarchist means. Among other things, the organization must function according to our non-hierarchical principles and must avoid certain collaborationist and hierarchical models. Our ideas must clearly demonstrate a rejection of nationalism, racism, sexism, homophobia and other ideas which run counter to the idea of egalitarian society. This has to be not only in theory, but in practice.

Anything else isn't really anarchosyndicalism.

To come back to Michael Schmidt and the points made by the authors of the expose or by some other people, it may be worth pointing out that Michael Schmidt is not an anarchosyndicalist and never was one. That said, he certainly spoke a lot about anarchosyndicalism and tried to define it more to his liking. However, this does not prove any correlation between anarchosyndicalism and national syndicalism. This proves that Michael Schmidt, who had, at the very least, poor national politics, tried to create a confused and revisionist vision which would include the likes of Connolly in a „broad” tradition that he and Lucien van de Walt tried to fashion.

One thing needs to be pointed out. Often in this or other discussions, people use the terms „syndicalism” and „anarchosyndicalism” interchangeably. This is quite annoying and shows that people are not too clear about what they are talking about. For me, „syndicalism” is an extremely broad term, meaning „unionism”, and with more implied characteristics than expressed ones. Syndicalism in fact can be nationalist, socialist or whatever. lt can also be anarchist. Because syndicalism is not connected to anarchism, only to unionism.
So if you tell me syndicalism can be nationalist, l would say that is true. But anarchosyndicalism, which is predicated on an egalitarian society, cannot be.

ln some countries, this question is problematic, because some people use the terms „syndicalism” and „anarchosyndicalism” interchangeably and don't see much of a difference. This makes a lot of confusion in my opinion. Another issue is related to the conception of the organization. There are some tendencies which might stress the economic and class focus of a union and want to downplay other issues of egalitarianism. This tendency is visible in the political thought of Michael Schmidt, among others. My opinion is that this way of viewing anarchosyndicalism threatens to make it not anarchist syndicalism, but some form of syndicalism.

Many years ago, our forefathers and sisters (but mostly men), split with the Marxist train of thought. The lWA was later born, refusing to compromise on the issue of the Party and State, in the name of the class struggle.

A century later, some anarchists and anarchosyndicalists, frightened that they are too irrelevant, actively seek the cooperation of authoritarian leftists in building a „mass movement”. Having problems with „the mass”, some proponents of class anarchism, anarcho-communist and anarcho-syndicalists, have resorted to „broadening” the tradition, to focusing on class but downplaying other important issues of egalitarianism. ln essence, they are approaching the Marxist position of building an lnternational where everyone will fight agaist capitalism as the most important thing and the issue of anti-statism or other specific anarchist claims are put on the back burner. This is something that is happening now and is a concrete threat to the anarchist character of anarcho-syndicalism. lt is much more relevant than the threat of fascist infiltration. However, for the organizations and movements which have already moved to the „broad tradition”, infiltration can be an issue.

Anarchosyndicalism needs to be more relevant to people, this is for sure. And it also needs to gain in strength. But it cannot compromise its positions to do so.

lf anybody does not get the dilemna, they can look at our situation. For anybody who is not aware, Poles just voted in a Parliament consisting of 6 right-wing parties, with a few fascists here and there. Without going into a long explanation of how the right-wing got working class people hooked, it is enough to say that it is easier to get working class people by your side with nationalist slogans and by carefully avoiding talking against the church, about womens' rights, etc. The conclusion is not hard to draw: if our main goal is to grow and show we are „mass”, then the easiest way to achieve this is to turn a blind eye, be soft on nationalism, etc.

At some point, Schmidt even suggests that anarchists should use nationalism more, to get those people on their side.

For us, this would just be counterproductive. Using soft nationalism to attract people to a movement which should be anti-nationalist is not likely to get the effect you want.

Anarchosyndicalism, by its definition, must be antifascist. There is no correlation between it and national syndicalism or fascism.

But any time that the anarchist aspect of syndicalism is drowned under the issues of „pragmatism”, „massiveness”, and all other points that seek to water it down, there is a risk of the organization simply losing its anarchist character. This l think has already happened a few times. This doesn't mean that these organizations will be infiltrated by fascists, but when people start sweeping incidents under the carpet, this increases the chance that some really bad ideas can infect them.

Let's not turn a blind eye to this issues. The Michael Schmidt case has, l hope, because of his celebrity, drawn attention to potential problems and how certain ideas could be smuggled into our movements. Let's not let this happen.

Comments

syndicalist

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by syndicalist on October 31, 2015

Workers Solidarity Alliance was just having a similiar convo

klas batalo

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by klas batalo on October 31, 2015

Real quick on MS yapping on about "purist" anarcho-syndicalism being close to national tendencies I get the sense that is an attack as the platformists have always made on IWA or FORAista style anarcho-syndicalism. But since the authors of the exposes are so far from our milieu they surely wouldn't understand that.

akai

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by akai on October 31, 2015

Klas, l think you are somewhat correct. MS certainly in many instances has bashed lWA style anarchosyndicalism, which, at the very least, whatever anybody says, offered probably the largest movement against fascism in both Europe and S. America. This is probably because of beliefs that the ideas of our anarchosyndicalism have been narrower than his personal vision and, probably, the vision of a number of other comrades with similar ideas.

Yes, l think that the authors of this expose are far from this milieu and their understanding may be incorrect. Let's see.

On the other hand, one of my arguments is that when you water down your anarchosyndicalism to be in a "broader" tradition, you might end up with some ideas close to MS infecting your movement. l suppose quite a number of anarchists who ultimately do not agree with MS let some things get passed them when reading his and van der Walt's book. Of course these things were not overt there, so they were rather cleverly smuggled in, in minor ways.

Connor Owens

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on October 31, 2015

Great article.

I'm not an anarcho-syndicalist myself (while supporting syndicalism as one anarchist strategy among several) but the kinds of attacks by so-called post-left anarchists on Anarchist News and other outlets in the wake of the Schmidt affair have made my blood boil. It's guilt-by-association nonsense.

It's a good point that syndicalism alone is a purely economic union-focused philosophy - able to be tied to socialism, nationalism, or even fascism - while anarcho-syndicalism is (and should be) inherently connected to an egalitarian and anti-hierarchical ethos which is in stark opposition to all forms of nationalism, racism, sexism, and queerphobia.

The only point I would emphasise which might come across as critical of anarcho-syndicalism (though it isn't intended as such) is that a lot of the more workerist/class-reductionist elements within the anarcho-syndicalist milieu can come across as somewhat dismissive of the egalitarian/inclusive ethics which are meant to guide social anarchist practice. By which I mean referring to a theoretically homogenous "working class" (singular) or proletariat with a common material interest and being somewhat dismissive of struggles around other trans-economic hierarchies like race, nationhood, gender, and sexuality. At worst dismissing even talking about these things as "identity politics".

Perhaps this unwillingness (only by some!) to incorporate concerns that go beyond class into a class struggle framework has unwittingly left the door open to those who see economic class struggle as reconcilable with masculinist, heterosexist, and indeed nationalist elements?

akai

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by akai on October 31, 2015

CO, in the past we have hardly agreed on anything so l am glad that maybe this time we can have a more comradely discussion on this.

About your point that some people are dismissive of some egalitarian ethics, l think this is true, but l don't think it is indicative of trends in most organizations. Nor to l think this is a problem only of or more prevalent in these types of organizations. That's because people like MS, who are macho alpha-males, are unfortunately found around many types of orgs.

That said, there are some growing tendencies in a few orgs that really put the focus on mass movements and seem to be quite willing to let the alpha male types get too much influence, because, quite frankly, it is usually they who recruit people and have followers. So they are considered somewhat more valuable than other members in organizations that prioritize the mass. l think this is a problem as it scews egalitarian ethics in favor of ideas of counterpower with are contigent mostly on the idea of mass.

lt might be off-topic for this though.

Khawaga

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on October 31, 2015

Perhaps this unwillingness (only by some!) to incorporate concerns that go beyond class into a class struggle framework has unwittingly left the door open to those who see economic class struggle as reconcilable with masculinist, heterosexist, and indeed nationalist elements?

Sadly, the answer to this (rhetorical) question is a big fat yes. I've experienced this in my former org and have read too many accounts from other orgs. And if we just consider the composition of most anarchist orgs (workerist or not), it is quite evident from the dominance of white heterosexual meales that we are most likely, even if unaware, a bit sexist, racist etc.

And great post Akai.

syndicalist

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by syndicalist on October 31, 2015

Quote:
Perhaps this unwillingness (only by some!) to incorporate concerns that go beyond class into a class struggle framework has unwittingly left the door open to those who see economic class struggle as reconcilable with masculinist, heterosexist, and indeed nationalist elements?

FWIW, I think anarchosyndicalist organizations which have always had decent stuff on LGBQT and racial liberation in their statements have had "attraction" problems and implementation problems as well. I can only speak of our experiance (workers solidarity alliance). Since our formation in 1984, we've had some good stuff in our "where we stand" document. I don't think we have been real succesful in attracting folks of color or large numbers from the lgbqt community. We made some small strides and steps, but not everything works out as hoped for. Obviously a different discussion.

alexanderreidross

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by alexanderreidross on October 31, 2015

First of all, salutations and thank you to Libcom.org for including me in valuable and critical discussions. I was encouraged by the scope and intelligence of akai's recent post about Chapter 5 of "About Schmidt." I want to express even greater gratitude for akai's contributions to this discussion. For me, the question is whether the word correlation can be applied in a negative context, as in "there is a correlation between two sides fighting against one another in a war" versus a lack of correlation, for example, between a hawk and a handsaw.

This miscommunication probably falls on me as a writer for not being more clear, and I apologize for whatever ambiguity. As to akai's article, I read through it virtually without criticism, gripped by the striking solidarity and powerful courage expressed throughout.

With regards to the Russian false-left, I thank akai for referring to my book. I was only in Russia briefly, for five months, studying in Moscow and working as a translator for the samizdat group, Chronicle of Human Rights. In that amount of time, my close friend, Muslim, was attacked on the streets in the Novoslobodskaya area of Moscow on two different occasions by National Bolshevik skinheads wearing the Strasserist Black Front insignia—a hammer and sword. Perhaps now it is easy to observe one of the many things that I'm forced to take personally regarding Schmidt's "Black Battlefront."

At any rate, I appreciate akai's work, and insight into these important issues both in Russia and in Poland. In the last few weeks, I've been told I'm anti-syndicalist, anti-platformist, and a green anarchist. In fact, I have held a red card for years, tried to join a platformist group this year (there were some quotas on membership, so it didn't work out), and have always taken a very critical approach to green anarchism. (As an aside, the only small critique I have about akai's article is the place where they doubt that one could say there's a correlation between ecology and fascism—there is a very real correlation, which you can check out in Ecofascism by Janet Biehl and Peter Staudenmaier).

At my current job as a canvasser for a local environmental NGO, I've participated in "shop-floor" organizing that led to increased participation of the canvass in management. Of course, canvassing and the general NGO industrial complex are two sides of the same exploitative labor conditions under capitalism, but I believe strongly in our current project stopping nestle from extracting the water from Mt Hood, and I also believe powerfully in the vital role played by syndicalists throughout the world in international collective liberation.

Before moving on to further detail, I would like to briefly add that i have also taken part in international struggles against free trade agreements along with comrades from South Korean, Latin American, and US-based syndicates with the Trade Justice group in NYC, as well as the pro-immigrant rights and indigenous solidarity movements on the US-Mexico border.

The underlying miscommunication can hopefully be clarified in three points:

1) Schmidt identifies nationalist and anarchist syndicalism as non-correlative, and then in the same breath says that a "post-revolutionary" state (implying a white nationalist Boerestaat) would approximate national syndicalism.

2) The contradiction here is breathtaking; Schmidt at once disassociates anarchist syndicalism from nationalist syndicalism, and then calls for an approximation of a national syndicalist Boerestaat.

3) My own point here is that if there is a correlation between anarchist and nationalist syndicalism it should be posited as a negative one—one of conflict and yes, even war—however, in Schmidt's estimation there is not only a correlation, but a *positive* one!

Why I say there might arguably be some sort of negative correlation (remember that the term correlation does not imply a positive relationship) is because, as in the case of the Portuguese National Syndicalists before and at the beginning of Salazar's reign, or for that matter former-anarchist Georges Valois who worked closely with Sorel and Maurras to develop the underpinnings of national socialism, numerous anarchists did change sides.

This is because, in my opinion, European nationalism was created as a way to destroy popular struggles for liberation. The term "nationalist socialism" was created by Maurice Barrès to funnel the proletariat into a class collaborationist "movement" on the basis of a mutual desire to destroy the republican system. It was this mutual animosity toward parliamentarism that brought Sorel and Maurras together, and thinkers like Arturo Labriola clearly described a nationalist syndicalism in which all state authority would broken down and be distributed among the syndicates. For this reason, many national syndicalists gave platitudes to anarchists and attempted to win them over. At the same time, anarchists like Malatesta were too smart for this kind of thing, created the Arditi del Popolo, and fought the fascists in the streets with great bravery and courage. While I disagree with his uncritical emphasis on the Enlightenment, I would recommend checking out Zeev Sternhell's The Birth of Fascist Ideology for a good history of the development of nationalist syndicalism and corporatism.

What this history shows, in my view, is that anarchist syndicalism can never be an "approximation" of national syndicalism, as Schmidt implies—particularly not in the form of white nationalism! At the same time, there is arguably a directly negative correlation between nationalist and anarchist syndicalism that has led to an unfortunate "crossing over between sides" (as seen in the Schmidt case), and a long and brutal class struggle against fascism.

Thank you again to Libcom.org for hosting this important discussion, and I am very grateful to akai as well for this critical article. We are all intellectuals in our own ways as we struggle together for a better world.

xx

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by xx on October 31, 2015

"we are all intellectuals in our own ways"

Thanks for that.

kingzog

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kingzog on November 1, 2015

Frankly, this is an extremely weak essay. Primarily(but not exclusively) because it ignores the historical connections between syndicalism and fascism- actually it is totally devoid of historical references.

Any serious attempt to distance anarcho-syndicalism from nationalism and fascism must contend with the "crossover" which occurred, historically, between syndicalism and fascism(fascism proper, not national socialism, necessarily). The truth is that fascism was founded by anti-parliamentarist syndicalist who emphasized direct-action and general-strikism; anti-modernism and anti-rationalsim, anti-Marxism; and ultimately, the rejection of working class as a revolutionary subject in favor of a sort pf producerism and volkisch communitarianism around concepts like "the popular classes" or "the people". Guys like Sorel, D'Annunzio and Alceste De Ambris come to mind.

Sike

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Sike on November 1, 2015

kingzog

Any serious attempt to distance anarcho-syndicalism from nationalism and fascism must contend with the "crossover" which occurred, historically, between syndicalism and fascism(fascism proper, not national socialism, necessarily). The truth is that fascism was founded by anti-parliamentarist syndicalist who emphasized direct-action and general-strikism; anti-modernism and anti-rationalsim, anti-Marxism; and ultimately, the rejection of working class as a revolutionary subject in favor of a sort pf producerism and volkisch communitarianism around concepts like "the popular classes" or "the people". Guys like Sorel, D'Annunzio and Alceste De Ambris come to mind.

Well, as the article points out syndicalism and anarcho-syndicalism are not at all the same thing and their goals couldn't be more different. I'm not exactly sure what you mean by "producerism" but certainly there was no widespread appeal to any type of volkishness among Anarcho-syndicalists as anarcho-syndicalists were internationalists and emphasized the solidarity of global proletariat regardless of national territorial boundaries, and to this end they formed transnational organizations such as the IWA, an internationalist Anarcho-syndicalist organization formed in the 1920's which still exists to this day. Thus the popular classes for Anarcho-syndicalists, as opposed to National-syndicalists, were not "the people" per se, but are instead the working-classes.

As for the accusations of anti-rationalism and anti-modernism these had nothing to do with Anarcho-syndicalism. Anarcho-syndicalist movements often went to great lengths to promote education among workers so they would be self-actualizing individuals who could make up their own minds about the pressing issues facing the workers without having to be dependent on intellectuals outside of the working-class to manage their movement. I think the idea that Anarcho-syndicalists, and by extension Anarchists, promote anti-intellectualism comes largely from sloppy journalism and from the baseless slanders of various hierarchical political factions perturbed over the idea that Anarcho-syndicalists promote that the workers should lead themselves as a class instead of blindly accepting the leadership of self-proclaimed revolutionary intellectuals.

You really should visit the Libcom library and actually read some of the works about Anarcho-syndicalism. Rudolph Rockers classic book on the subject is as good starting point as any.

My apologies for any sloppy grammar but I'm using a tablet and it's a real pain to write anything substantial with, and now it wants to freeze up on me.

akai

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by akai on November 1, 2015

OK, first, thanks to Alexander for clarifying what was meant. l think the word "correlation" can be misunderstood and, in fact a lot of people did misunderstand.

Secondly, what a winner with Kingzog. (Fan of Zog?) But OK. Yes, l did not make a long history of the incidents of overlap between syndicalism and fascism, because my point was about anarchosyndicalism and fascism.

ln my opinion, the only notable defection from „our ranks” was the USM and Parma groups of USl in 1914, very shortly after USl's founding. lt is very significant but, in my opinion proves more that members of syndicalist organizations, which are mass organizations, (and in the case of USl at the time, also not clearly anarchosyndicalist, but revolutionary syndicalist with strong anarchist membership) might also have some weakness in terms of committment to some aspects of anarchosyndicalism. l don't think this is great, but it has been the case and explains some splits.

USl had 500-600,000 members at one point. lt is a misunderstanding to think that all members of mass anarchosyndicalist organizations are anarchists. The organizations should run on anarchist principles and strive to create a libertarian society. ln 1914, a small minority in USl, many manipulated by the cause of interventionism, left. But, for example, although the USM left, almost half of the workers left the USM because of this. So, yes, a small portion of workers split off from USl and went in a fascist direction, while USl went on to be outlawed and participated in battle after battle against fascism.

This is, in my opinion, the most significant thing that happened in terms of syndicalists and fascists and l wouldn't want to downplay this. However, that does not mean that there is a correlation between anarchosyndicalism and fascism as is being suggested. What this means is that anarchists have different ideas for how to organize themselves. Some, like the type which Schmidt had fallen into, choose to organize themselves in tiny organizations of anarchists and to act inside mass movements. Others choose to create mass movements with libertarian principles but then there is always a risk that some people in this go in another direction. For example, the CNT from Spain. For me this doesn't prove that anarchosyndicalism, which is the opposite of fascism, intersects in thought with fascism. What this proves is that anarchosyndicalist organization is sometimes difficult and there are times when part of its membership can fail. This is a challenge in anarchosyndicalism, but not unique to it. l mean, how many Marxists became butchers? Etc. etc.

l see the type of comments by the Zog guy as more some sectarian attempt to trash anarchosyndicalism than anything else. What is needed though is a very clear idea of what challenges we face as anarchists when we leave the comfort zone of small groups of comrades who are all very good anarchists and we build movements where not everybody comes from that background. Of course there are anarchists who would argue that this is not desirable.... but most of them still talk what happened in Spain as a social revolution. Despite the fact that the CNT clearly had defects. This is another story. When the shit hits the fan, some members of these anarchistic mass movements choose another way.

But the facts are that out of the millions of people who were in anarchosyndicalist orgs, a small amount of people did this.

That said, and as somebody mentioned, fascists have historically tried to coopt elements of anarchism and other revolutionary movements to suit themselves. For example, currently you will find fascists honoring Makhno and Bakunin ... ln the past, a couple of national syndicalists tried to influence the CNT and tried to move it in this direction at the 1931 Congress but with absolutely no success.

lt is absolutely clear that fascists want to use national syndicalism to attract working people away. Recently in Poland, fascists started this attempt, with no luck so far. lf you read what they say, they are not happy that anarchists have syndical activity, not them. They also tried to get involved with tenants, also with no luck. So we are just lucky l guess that they are not as competent as we are. They already stole many of our things - slogans, posters, etc. We had been holding successful national demos (we did it for 3 years) and they simply took the name and tried to use it and hold their own demos. They only drew a dozen people or so in a few cities, but it made enough confusion that we had to stop using the name.

But let's at least not ignore the issue and examine a bit of history. Cercle Proudhon (CP). One could argue about what exactly was taken from the anarchist thought of Proudhon (nota bene, far, far from my favourite) and what from the syndicalist thought of Sorel.

CP was first, anti-democratic. Anarchism has always criticized representative democracy but its mainstream proposes direct democracy and this is very different than the fascist take on democracy, with is that it should be eliminated and an elite should rule. What is interesting historically is that anarchists of the time criticized the use of the name of Proudhon and pointed out that Proudhon's views were misrepresented by CP. (This is online, have a read: http://elsewhere.radgeek.com/2013/02/01/facebook-proudhon-and-royalism/) This is very typical of what fascists do. Maurras was clearly a monarchist in fact, and monarchism is the implied form of rule for CP. So it's clear that Proudhon was not a monarchist and the use of Proudhon's name was very gross. Of course Proudhon, at least at the end of his life, had moved away from anti-statism.

lt was the conclusion of CP and following generations of fascists that democracy is a source of capitalism, therefore, democracy itself needs to be eliminated, but the proposed solution of fascists is the complete opposite of what anarchists propose.

The other question would be of course if Proudhon was the most influential thinker for anarchosyndicalists or not. That is another topic. But anarchosyndicalists were profoundly anti-statist.

Basically, although l really don't like Proudhon, l think it would be a stretch for anybody to say that what Proudhon did was create an ideology which was a forerunner to fascism. That some proto-fascists took some things from Proudhon and twisted some others does not really imply such a straight connection. l think Tucker's article, which l linked to, explained it well.

Sorel is another matter, but again, it should be pointed out that Sorel was not an anarchosyndicalist. ln his work, he offers a lot of criticism of anarchists. Everybody knows that his ideas had elements which were easily appropriated by fascism. The problem with Sorel is actually something l address in the article Kingzog doesn't like. Where the egalitarian social elements of anarchosyndicalism go missing or are drowned out by pure syndical goals, other ideas can creep in. So Sorel, he focuses on the general strike as the method of liberation – but everything else that an anarchist might be interested in, in terms of building the future libertarian society, is missing.

Now let's talk about Mussolini. He certainly did not come from an anarchist background, but was a member of the Socialist Party. So, should we start now some discussion about how socialism is connected to fascism?

OK, but yes, he drew from Sorel. Sorel himself had later rejected his earlier nationalist streak, but too late. By the time of WWl, clearly part of socialism and syndicalism had taken a nationalist turn. Nationalism has always been a historic problem, but not only of syndicalism. The national strains of socialism were against the internationalist strains and often went to war with them.

(This was not something very new. For example, one could look at Poland in the 1890s for very interesting debates about this issue, with the SDKPiL devergence from PPS. A lot of these questions were articulated in these debates well before they became hot issues in other countries.)

OK, the long and the short of it was that Mussolini attacked and outlawed USl and many of its militants were imprisoned or killed and some of them that made it through the 20s in ltaly just died in the 30s in Spain. This fact stands in stark contrast to any suggestion that anarchosyndicalism had something in common with fascism as fascists were extremely interesting in murdering anarchosyndicalists. But what we see is that first there were some attempts to coopt these organizations. What would become national syndicalists and fascists tried in 1914 to get USl on its side, and failed, although they managed to take part of the people from two unions. National syndicalists tried probably to do some minor infiltration in CNT at the beginning of the 30s and failed to get anybody. ln the 1910s, with many historic specificities, yeah, some syndicalists were swayed by national rhetoric. After the development of a clear national syndicalist tendency and fascism, in the 30s it proved impossible to trick the CNT.

Red Marriott

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Red Marriott on November 1, 2015

Reid & Stephens

“I don’t think that there is any real correlation between anarchist syndicalism and national syndicalism,” Schmidt told us in our interview — a strange denial given that a number of origin voices within national syndicalism, including Mussolini, Valois, and De Ambris, either had been or were supporters of anarchism.

Valois, yes, the others I’ve seen no evidence for that claim (happy to be corrected).

Kingzog

Any serious attempt to distance anarcho-syndicalism from nationalism and fascism must contend with the "crossover" which occurred, historically, between syndicalism and fascism(fascism proper, not national socialism, necessarily). The truth is that fascism was founded by anti-parliamentarist syndicalist who emphasized direct-action and general-strikism; anti-modernism and anti-rationalsim, anti-Marxism; and ultimately, the rejection of working class as a revolutionary subject in favor of a sort pf producerism and volkisch communitarianism around concepts like "the popular classes" or "the people". Guys like Sorel, D'Annunzio and Alceste De Ambris come to mind.

“The truth”? Yet none of those “guys” were anarchists or anarcho-syndicalists – all were much more marxist-influenced syndicalists (see below). And Reid & Stephens’ use of Italian national anarchists as an example is more revealing than they may realise. The USI Italian syndicalist union had national-syndicalist entrants who tried to steer it towards pro-militarist and nationalist positions in WWI but they were successfully resisted by the mass of the USI which retained its anti-militarism and internationalism under a strong anarchist influence. De Ambris led his patriotic faction out of USI and merged with Mussolini’s group to form Fasci autonomi d'azione rivoluzionaria. Post-WWI; after fierce clashes with a rising fascist movement USI was outlawed by Mussolini in 1926.

"It is no coincidence that the strongest working-class resistance to Fascism was in . . . towns or cities in which there was quite a strong anarchist, syndicalist or anarcho-syndicalist tradition" (Tobias Abse,"The Rise of Fascism in an Industrial City", page 56, in Rethinking Italian Fascism)

Sorel was never an anarchist but much more a marxist (as anyone who cares to read him would see), he was at times both critical of and sympathetic to aspects of anarchism. He had a nationalist period before, late in life, enthusiastically supporting Lenin and the Bolshevik regime.

D'Annunzio was elected as a conservative to the Italian parliament in 1899. In 1900 he crossed the floor and stood for Mussolini’s socialist PSI, failing to get re-elected. He later embraced fascism.

Valois had been anarcho-syndicalist in his youth - after which he became national-syndicalist, fascist, later becoming a libertarian communist and dying in Belsen. (See; From Fascism to Libertarian Communism - George Valois Against the Third Republic - Allen Douglas)

Prior to his nationalist turn, De Ambris seems to have been always a non-anarchist revolutionary syndicalist who turned to fascism before becoming disillusioned with it; he’s described in 1913 at the London international syndicalist congress;

In the course of the sessions serious differences surfaced between those who, like the Italian delegate Alceste De Ambris, tried to soften the anti-statist and anti-capitalist slant of the proposed resolutions and avoid “splitting the working class” by creating a new trade union International; and adherents of a more consistently revolutionary line. https://libcom.org/library/chapter-3-revolutionary-syndicalism-anarchism

After an initial enthusiasm he became a syndicalist opponent of fascism;

The most famous revolutionary syndicalist opponent of fascism was Alceste De Ambris. N 1919 and 1920 he had been closely associated with Mussolini, but the attitude of the latter in the Fiume episode greatly disappointed him. Moreover, he had come to the conclusion that Mussolini was in the process of betraying the ideals of national syndicalism and that he was moving further and further to the right. It should be remembered that the “economistic” view of syndicalism held by De Ambris accepted nationalism only within the limits necessary to productionism. This view owed a great deal to the theories of Labriola and Leone and remained within the Mazzinian tradition of social justice and national identity. When fascism became openly antileftist and still more violent after 1920, other syndicalists such as Ugo Dalbi, Elio Laceria, Enzo Ferrari, and Ulisse Luchessi joined De Ambris in his opposition. These were the very people who had once believed that Fascist syndicalism had a positive effect, inasmuch as its labor component would be bound to cause a division between the socialistically minded and the reactionaries in the movement. In 1922, when fascism came to power, De Ambris and his group went into opposition. De Ambris finally went into exile.
(The Birth of Fascist Ideology: From Cultural Rebellion to Political Revolution By Zeev Sternhell, Mario Sznajder, Maia Asheri)

The same book describes the transition from Marxist-based revolutionary syndicalism to fascism;

...those ... group of intellectuals ... had long before distanced themselves from Marxist-socialist analysis, with its materialist implications. They had replaced the working class with the nation – a voluntaristic nation in which social change was entrusted to activist elites. They held that socialism had completely lost its revolutionary spirit and that materialism had succeeded only in poisoning the party and labor organizations. Olivetti explained how the replacement of the idea of class consciousness by an ethiconational vision was to be understood. In his “Manifesto dei Sindicalisti”, drafted in the first half of 1921, he declared: “The producer, in achieving his moral liberty and in accomplishing his whole duty, will realize the social revolution, which is above all a national revolution and a moral revolution.” Olivetti left no room for doubt about the relative importance of class problems and national problems. “The nation is above classes,” he declared, “and all considerations of class should give way before things of a national character.” ...

Mussolini was a marxist member of the socialist PSI, though with some early influence of anarchism via his father who had;

Been a member of Bakunin’s anarchist International in Italy in the 1870s ... [Mussolini junior] even translated ... into Italian ... two of Kroptkin’s major books... https://libcom.org/files/Mussolini,%20Sacco-Vanzetti%20and%20the%20Anarchists.pdf

The original emergence of Italian revolutionary syndicalism came from socialists (Labriola & co) within the PSI - there is a necessary distinction;

Italian revolutionary syndicalism should be distinguished from anarcho-syndicalism: the former, which arose as an effort to revise Marxism, had a profound influence on Mussolini's thought and provided early Fascism with some of its leading figures, including Edmondo Rossoni, Alceste De Ambris, and Angelo Olivetti; the latter, however, arose out of the Bakuninist tradition and was led by anarchists, such as Armando Borghi, who worked for anarchist goals through the syndicalist movement. https://libcom.org/files/Mussolini,%20Sacco-Vanzetti%20and%20the%20Anarchists.pdf

The USI split on the opposition of anti-parliamentary, anti-militarist anarchist principles to the nationalism and party orientation of the revolutionary syndicalists (who were soon to gravitate to fascism).

Of all those named by Reid & Stephens and Kingzog in support of a correlation between anarcho-syndicalism and national-anarchism and/or fascism only one, Valois, was ever actually an anarchist. There was much more marxist influence on syndicalists who became prominent fascists. The vast bulk of anarcho-syndicalists led the fight against fascism. Yet such misleading simplistic claims as those above are made. The claims made are no better than claiming that because some anarchists are influenced by reading Marx or have ever been engaged in struggles alongside marxists that they bear some responsibility for stalinism.

akai

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by akai on November 1, 2015

Thanks for that.

l would add that USl really dId not splIt - because only 2 unIons left and, of those, one splIt Itself.

As mentIoned, USl at that tIme was not anarchosyndIcalIst but anarchIsts were an Important part. As far as l remember the hIstory of USl, In 1918 they wanted to stress theIr anarchIstIc nature and expelled some revolutIonary syndIcalIsts.

lf my memory serves me rIght, Alceste de AmbrIs not only was not an anarchIst, but In 1913 was elected as deputy from PSl. (SocIalIst Party). But yes, he turned agaInst fascIsm and was even exIled from ltaly.

Of course, one can ask about why USl had a ParlIamentarIan In Its ranks, but the answer Is that of course It dId not start as a strIctly anarchosyndIcalIst organIzatIon.

Entdinglichung

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Entdinglichung on November 1, 2015

one of the first NSDAP branches outside Bavaria, the one in Dortmund-Mengedde was in 1922 founded by people who were in its majority former members of the FAUD, but they were neither representative for the FAUD, nor for the Nazis

syndicalist

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by syndicalist on November 1, 2015

Entdinglichung

one of the first NSDAP branches outside Bavaria, the one in Dortmund-Mengedde was in 1922 founded by people who were in its majority former members of the FAUD, but they were neither representative for the FAUD, nor for the Nazis

They left because?Just curious, not meant disrespectfully

alexanderreidross

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by alexanderreidross on November 1, 2015

Hi there,

Thanks for all the interesting and insightful comments. The issues around Proudhon and his "influence" on Valois and Sorel I find extremely sketchy. Proudhon during the Second Republic was actually in favor of involvement in the state on a progressive measure, and actually played the role of deputy. It was only when Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte took over that Proudhon abandoned involvement in the government. From Proudhon's final, uncompleted work, Sorel took an ultimate rejection of all parliamentarism forever, which kind of reduced his entire oeuvre and misconstrued the character of his philosophy. That's really a separate point, but I find it interesting.

With regards to national syndicalists who had switched over to or supported anarchism, I think the examples of Mussolini and De Ambris still hold. In his younger years, Mussolini translated a couple works by Kropotkin into Italian, wrote a defense of the Haymarket martyrs, and supported Gaetano Bresci. He also wrote a review of Kropotkin's work in which he puts forward his thesis, “It is necessary therefore, that as of today, the revolutionary minorities acquire the technical capacity to reorganize the economic production on a new basis of justice, the day that the capitalist landholdings will be expropriated. The suppression of private property, will achieve a new form of political organization. The State—the committee of defense of the interests of the propertied classes—will have no more reason to exist.”

De Ambris supported what he called the "destructive gesture of the anarchists," which was to him the revolutionary general strike. There was also Francesco Saverio Merlino who left anarchism to become a socialist and became the main influence of Panunzio. If you look into Ottavio Dinale's journal La demolizione, it's supposed to be an anarchist journal and there are numerous anarchist names featured alongside Marinetti and other Sorelians. Sternhell calls it "an anarchist journal with a revolutionary-syndicalist orientation," and Dinale would come into collaboration with Mussolini.

In Spain, there was Nicasio Alvarez de Sotomayor, who led a strike for the CNT before being expelled and joining Ladesema's national syndicalists.

Also in Portugal, Stanley Payne notes that people went from anarchist syndicalism to a national syndicalist-led coalition. Here's a link to the page.

I don't think that any of the above should be blown out of proportion as though fascism came from anarchism or anything like that. There's no sense in stretching the associations, when whatever correlations exist are built on co-optation and the relationship is one of hatred. The core aspect of the claim of "correlation" between anarchist syndicalism and national syndicalism here lies in Schmidt's views, not mine. Schmidt claims "no correlation" and then says there's not just a positive correlation, but an "approximation."

- sasha

akai

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by akai on November 1, 2015

Hi,
l didn't know of the FAUD thing or the Portuguese one, which l will ask the Portuguese comrades about. So, OK, a few more instances than l thought, very unfortunately.

But you know, the Mussolini thing is really a stretch. l would never say he was an anarchist. His father was an anarchist and no doubt he got some initial influence there, but, so what. He was never in an anarchist organization and did not go en masse into fascism with a group of comrades.
Yeah, this means that some people who flirted with anarchism went on to be fascists, or to shoot Fannie Kaplan or to be presidents of countries - no way to get around that. l am sure quite a few others are bosses, corporate managers etc. Shit happens. We shouldn't dismiss it, but l wouldn't make any theory that one form of anarchism is closer to fascism or anything, which l have seen some brilliant people comment someplace on the internet.

As for de Ambris, l am really sure he was not an anarchist, but a socialist. l already mentioned him in an earlier comment.

Entdinglichung

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Entdinglichung on November 1, 2015

syndicalist

Entdinglichung

one of the first NSDAP branches outside Bavaria, the one in Dortmund-Mengedde was in 1922 founded by people who were in its majority former members of the FAUD, but they were neither representative for the FAUD, nor for the Nazis

They left because?Just curious, not meant disrespectfully

people being radicalised through the period 1918/19, looking for something more radical, becoming disillusioned, then finding something "new" and "radical"... not all of them stayed very long in the Nazi party

Entdinglichung

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Entdinglichung on November 1, 2015

akai

Hi,
l didn't know of the FAUD thing

it was a quite marginal event and none of them was a long-time FAUD/FVdG member, there is an article in German (Aufbruch in neue Zeiten : Anarchosyndikalisten und Nationalsozialisten in Mengede in der Frühphase der Weimarer Republik. by Müller, Andreas. In: Archiv für die Geschichte des Widerstands und der Arbeit Nr. 8 (1987), S. 121-154., republished as a booklet by a FAU branch around 2000) about it ... in general, there were relatively few Nazis with a background in the workers movement and even fewer high-profile cases (e.g. Sepp Oerter, Barthold Karwahne)

kingzog

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kingzog on November 2, 2015

I was clear in my first post that the connection between fascism and anarcho-syndicalism was through syndicalism. AS is a fusion of anarchism and syndicalism, guys, come on.

For straight anarchism, I'd say there are quite a lot of localist tendencies which can manifest as nationalism. We see this in the politics of anarchists themselves. A lot of talk here has been about excluding nationalism from anarchism by stipulating a definition of anarchism which precludes nationalism or other features. While it may be technically correct, its a useless way to actually analyse and determine why there has been so much crossover and fusion between the two over the years.

mollymew

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by mollymew on November 2, 2015

This whole matter has certainly raised a lot of thorny questions ranging all the way from early 20th century history to present dynamics in the pitifully small (especially in North America) anarchist 'scene', through intellectual trends in Europe around the time of WW1 and ending up in the final circle of intellectual Hell, philosophy. It's a hard thing to comment on it all, and in some cases I have to admit great ignorance such as the nature of Portugal's 'fascism' (how 'fascist' as opposed to traditionalist authoritarianism was it actually ?) or lesser ignorance (the situation in Ukraine, Russia and especially Poland). Some things I feel more confident about.

First of all the relations of anarchism and fascism. The French contribution by people such as Sorel had a certain nature, a very confused nature that was later mirrored in fascism, especially in Mussolini. He went from relatively orthodox Marxism to 'revisionism'., to trying to give a 'theory' (which was equal parts social psychology and the typical bloodthirst of what used to be called 'déclassé intellectuals) to syndicalism, to collaboration with marginalized 'intellectuals' of the French far right to end up as a great admirer and apologist of Bolshevism. I wonder how long he was able to hold any one position. The 'trend' in French syndicalism that he represented was always marginal, or at least the circle of his fans was very small. The members of the French CGT were, on average, more concerned with day-to-day activities such as preparatory organization, strikes, cooperatives, etc.. The 'syndicalism' of Sorel appealed much more to intellectual fireflies who flitted about the light of the CGT.

No doubt the belief in the cleansing apocalypse of the 'rrrrevolution' carried on in a minor key amongst CGT members - in a Sunday-go-to-meeting way, and it bore its own bitter fruit post WW1 in the Communist takeover of the union, the Communists playing to a 'feeling' that valued Revolution and its illusions over any socialist or anarchist content in any future, or even present, society.

Sorel is only interesting in terms of his 'intellectual' theories - whatever they were at any given time. In this he bears a resemblance to the figure of Proudhon whom the French far right adopted, no doubt to the great distress of Proudhon's ghost, as some sort of forefather. I've only read 'Reflections on Violence' by Sorel, nothing else. As to Sorel the major impression I went away with, aside from a few simplistic assertions which could have been fully expressed in one paragraph, was that this was a confused babbler who decorated his intellectual Christmas Tree with thousands of ornaments of useless digressions.

I've read a lot more Proudhon, and I can see how anybody who wants to base their beliefs on 'Holy Writ' could find anything they might want in his long and contradictory career. There's a Proudhon for all seasons, and in my opinion that which is most valuable in him, his ideas that developed into mutualism, were lifted bodily from the practice of the French workers of his day. No doubt they took him as a 'revered icon', but I doubt that many French workers 'understood' him. I doubt that few people have understood him to this day. I doubt that he can be understood. The most telling sign of this was his trial in Bescançon concerning his views on property. He was acquitted because the jury came to the conclusion that they had no idea what he was talking about.

The question of Mussolini and Italian fascism is similar, and there was indeed an influence on this fascism from the extremely marginal circle of the French far right who attempted to appropriate syndicalism for their own uses. But that's another subject that I will hopefully return to tomorrow. For now it should be mentioned that Mussolini's father was a socialist and in no way an anarchist. The tendency to present politics in as dramatic a fashion as possible, with great admiration for violence of all sorts was common to both socialists and anarchists in Italy at that time, and Benito's father's admiration for the anarchists was based pretty much on this alone. The worship of violence, in fact, is pretty much the only thread aside from extreme nationalism that is common to all the varieties of fascism.

kingzog

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kingzog on November 2, 2015

Let me elaborate a little more. A lot of political movements and ideologies have contradictions. A lot are born of syncreticism(combining things which are ostensibly at odds with one another). Fascism itself is syncretic. So of course it can appropriate other tendencies. The better question is why so many anarchists start out anarchist and then gravitate towards nationalism and sometimes fascism.

kingzog

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kingzog on November 2, 2015

When it comes to anarcho-syndicalism, it shares theories and anecestors with syndicalism proper. Syndicalism proper had a major influence on fascism. Like I wrote earlier, fascism borrows a lot of elements from syndicalism that anarchism also borrows or shares. Direct action, anti-parliamentarism, general-strikism and sometimes a skepticism of enlightenment thought or even rationalism- like Nietzscheian philosophy for instance.

Quickly, one can see this makes it easier to crossover, especially if one has nationalistic tendencies in the form of being soft on national self determination in general.
There is also a lot of crossover with Maoism on that basis, bte. That dude from MAS comes to mind.

kingzog

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kingzog on November 2, 2015

There is also the issue that general-strikism itself does not pose the question of the conquest of political power, which is always required. Anarchists think simply seizing production sidesteps political power. This is false. Crypto-fascism or outright fascism offers a solution to this which keeps the elements of a mass movement but which is also anti-marxist. So dissatisfied anarchists who turn nationalist might gravitate towards it once they realize the inadequacy of general-strikism without a strategy for taking power.

Rob Ray

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Rob Ray on November 2, 2015

When it comes to anarcho-syndicalism, it shares theories and anecestors with syndicalism proper

Almost every theory has crossover with other theories, they grow out of and learn from each other for heaven's sake.

John Zerzan

What isn't happening is the Left. Historically, it has failed monumentally. What war, depression or ecocide did it ever prevent? The Left now exists mainly as a fading vehicle of protest in, say, the electoral circuses that fewer and fewer believe in anyway. It hasn't been a source of inspiration in many decades. It is dying out. The Left is in our way and needs to go.

This is a line from primitivist Zerzan's 2008 piece "The Left? No Thanks!" and could be lifted nearly word for word from any anarcho-syndicalist tract written in the last century. Now Zerzan also rejects anarcho-syndicalism, but clearly there's ideas which resonate even in his world, and doubtless reading a-s works has influenced some of his thinking even while he rejects other parts of it. This happens all the time, so it's utterly ludicrous to say any tendency particularly risks becoming another simply because you can pick out similar lines or trace links to old thinkers.

On the specific idea of anarcho-syndicalists becoming fascists, of course some will. There's fascists who become anti-fascists, Swappies who become Tories, people's views change over time depending on their material circumstances and interpretations of the world. Anarcho-syndicalism, generally, is less prone to that ime than most - I've seen people drift into leftist reformism (usually through frustration with a lack of progress) but very rarely towards active rightism.

jc

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by jc on November 2, 2015

Thanks for writing this article! Connecting anarcho-syndicalism with fascism is an insult to all the CNT comrades killed by General Franco. I doubt any other flavour of anarchism has done more to fight fascism, or lost more comrades to it.

Red Marriott

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Red Marriott on November 2, 2015

Reid

Mussolini translated a couple works by Kropotkin into Italian, wrote a defense of the Haymarket martyrs, and supported Gaetano Bresci.

Lots of other marxists also supported the Haymarket martyrs, as did most of the international labour movement and many liberals – that’s entirely irrelevant. Bakunin translated the Communist Manifesto – but to make misleading statements on that basis that he ‘had been or was a supporter of marxism’ would be similarly ridiculous. Or to say that Marx ‘had been or was a supporter of anarchism’ because he had been in an organisation - the 1st International - with anarchists. That Mussolini & Ambris never joined anarchist groups or called themselves anarchists – but instead chose always membership and identification within a much more marxist-oriented arena makes clear the limits of any allegiance to anarchism.

Reid

De Ambris supported what he called the "destructive gesture of the anarchists," which was to him the revolutionary general strike.

That’s actually a quote from Marinetti (“il gesto distruttore dei libertarî”) in a very un-anarchist statement;

"We want to glorify war - the only cure for the world - militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of the anarchists, the beautiful ideas which kill, and contempt for woman... We want to demolish museums and libraries, fight morality, feminism and all... utilitarian cowardice." (Marinetti, Futurist Manifesto 1909) http://www.academia.edu/1255766/Being_a_Posthuman_Human_Enhancement_in_Banks_Fiction

You’re probably confusing this with the Fascist Manifesto that Marinetti co-wrote with De Ambris in 1919. And all syndicalists, including non-anarchists like De Ambris, supported the tactic of the general strike and knew it wasn’t exclusively an anarchist tactic – so again, irrelevant.

The significance of the fact that anarchism, amongst other things, had some lesser influence on those who became fascists is being overstated; and they are stretching the ‘facts’ of that influence in, ironically, a similar way to how the Black Flame authors stretched their ‘facts’ on Italy; see - http://libcom.org/forums/history-culture/books-italian-anarcho-syndicalism-05102010#comment-400771

Marxism, syndicalism and anarchism can all be shown to be part of the background of some who became national anarchists and fascists. (Bear in mind those discussed here are a handful of intellectuals rather than the millions(?) of anarcho-syndicalist workers of that time.) And in this case Marxism, via the PSI and revolutionary syndicalism, has had a bigger influence on those named who became fascists. Yet Kingzog mentions all influences on syndicalism except his favoured Marxism. But ‘any connection at all’ doesn’t mean “a correlation”. I don’t see any shared integral logic that suggests such a claim, but rather basic incompatibilities between anarchism’s principles of anti-statism and egalitarianism and national-anarchism and dictatorship. In the evolution of political theories just about any one thing can be shown to have some link with another; but mostly this line of ‘reasoning’ seems to be simplistic shallow claims at the service of the claimant’s ideological agenda rather than sincere attempt at clarity.

jc

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by jc on November 2, 2015

Just gonna chip in on the Mussolini was an anarchist thing too - at the time fascism started getting big, anarchism was really popular (hard to imagine now right?). How do we know people that dabbled in anarchism weren't just following the tide, attracted by an extreme but slightly popular idea?

I mean, Jack Straw was in CND. Does that mean there is a correlation between Pacifism and New Labour? Probably not.

kingzog

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kingzog on November 2, 2015

The sort of "Marxism" the proto-fascist syndicalists favored was hardly Marxist. It rejected materialism and rationalism. It was a historic revisionism and in the end, they became anti-marxist(because this revision was untenable), rejected the working class as a revolutionary subject and sought to impose harmony between classes, rejecting class struggle.

kingzog

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kingzog on November 2, 2015

And at any rate, syndicalism wasn't borne of Marxism, it was already incompatable on many levels. Whereas, anarchism and syndicalism are not incompatable.

Earlier, I mentioned localism and that it has a tendency to progress to nationalism. Federalism is a localist tendency. Famously, we find these ideas in Bakunin, who was of course, a pan-slavic nationalist.

Red Marriott

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Red Marriott on November 3, 2015

zog

The sort of "Marxism" the proto-fascist syndicalists favored was hardly Marxist. It rejected materialism and rationalism. It was a historic revisionism and in the end, they became anti-marxist(because this revision was untenable), rejected the working class as a revolutionary subject and sought to impose harmony between classes, rejecting class struggle.

Then by your own logic theirs was also a “historic revisionism” of syndicalism and so contradicts your claims. But their original Marxism was the bog standard social democratic 2nd Int. variety. You’re confusing the later development of their ideas with their origins in the Marxist movement they undeniably came from. It doesn't suit your position to have a homogenous "Marxism" but it does to have a supposedly homogenous anarchism and syndicalism.

And at any rate, syndicalism wasn't borne of Marxism, it was already incompatable on many levels. Whereas, anarchism and syndicalism are not incompatable.

That’s a bit simplistic; some anarchists have always been critical of syndicalism. It’s true that syndicalism emerged partly in reaction to the parliamentary reformism of the dominant 2nd Int. social democracy – unsurprisingly, it therefore attracted some Marxists and socialists, like Sorel, Mussolini, De Ambris & co..

Earlier, I mentioned localism and that it has a tendency to progress to nationalism. Federalism is a localist tendency. Famously, we find these ideas in Bakunin, who was of course, a pan-slavic nationalist.

Bakunin had once been a pan-slavist long before he was an anarchist – so his progression was the opposite of what you claim, from nationalism to anti-statism and internationalism.

And at any rate, syndicalism wasn't borne of Marxism, it was already incompatable on many levels. Whereas, anarchism and syndicalism are not incompatable.

Some other Marxists of the time found some compatibility with it and got involved with the industrial unionist IWW and showed sympathy towards the syndicalist CNT, including some pretty good ones, eg, Mattick & Karl Korsch;

Most of his [Korsch’s] early writing, which he did in England, displays the influence of Fabianism and of the syndicalist and guild-socialist tendencies within the labour movement. His concern even then was with the practical activities of the movement rather than its theories. ... The Spanish Civil War and its partial transformation into an imperialist contest found Korsch siding with the anarcho-syndicalists and their short-lived attempts to collectivise social production and distribution. https://www.marxists.org/archive/mattick-paul/1964/korsch.htm

Do they count as ‘real’ Marxists? Even the Bolsheviks tried to attract syndicalists to their RILU international union body.

Your convenient opinions are backed up by no more than wishful thinking. The fact remains that the “syndicalist proto-fascists” – including some you named earlier, in an attempt to pin the blame on anarchism - were actually from the camp of the dominant form of 2nd Int. Marxism of their time. It may not be a Marxism we like much but to say there’s more clear distance between that Marxism and your cherry-picked “ideal” Marxism than there is distance between anarchism and fascism is unconvincing.

kingzog

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kingzog on November 3, 2015

How was sorelianism a revision of syndicalism in the same sense soreal rejected the materialism and rationalism at the heart of marxism Remariot? Syndicalism has little to say about those things, on the contrary its tactics, and its mostly a strategic/tactical position(from which we can infer some problematic philosophical underpinnings) can indeed fit right into sorelianism(which provides more of a philosophical basis).

kingzog

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kingzog on November 3, 2015

Let me clarify, I'm not saying anarchism itself is a sort of crypto fascism. That's an absurd caricature of what I've said. What I have been saying is anarcho-syndicalism is a fusion of syndicalism, and there are nationalistic and proto-fascist tendencies within syndicalism. So its not surprising that anarchos who take a nationalistic turn(and I do think anarchism has some immenant problems which may lead to nationalism- namely, localism and federalism, but also a corelary of blood and Soil in the tendency to glorify pastoralism and primitivism) may keep their identifies as anarcho-syndicalists- perhaps syncreticize increasingly sorelianism theories of syndicalism into their politics.

Is it that hard to imagine?

I also think the councilists and communizationists suffer from these nationalistic tendencies. Let's not forget about Dauve's comrades who took a far right turn.

Reddebrek

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Reddebrek on November 3, 2015

kingzog

The sort of "Marxism" the proto-fascist syndicalists favored was hardly Marxist. It rejected materialism and rationalism. It was a historic revisionism and in the end, they became anti-marxist(because this revision was untenable), rejected the working class as a revolutionary subject and sought to impose harmony between classes, rejecting class struggle.

The sort of "Marxism" the proto Marxist Karl Marx favoured was hardly Marxist. He rejected Materialism and rationalism on the Polish and Irish question to support nationalist movements.
The German SPD which came to dominate the Marxist international based its intellectual legitimacy on its members who knew Marx and where his most devout disciples, and they joined a Nationalist war for greater colonial territory...

Furthermore we see that all Communist organisations of every hue and stripe have a depressing tendency to ditch internationalism and organise through national organisations and branch, thus capitulating to a national(ist) consciousness.

And furthermore the Communists favoured tactic of centralism within its political structure, clearly mimicking the states tendency to centralise political power over a geographic territory in order to establish a nation state.

Clearly Marxism et al is infested with nationalism root and branch, and since Fascism is a more extreme version of Nationalism, this proves a positive correlation between the more extreme a communist group, the more fascistic it becomes.

kingzog

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kingzog on November 3, 2015

Undoubtedly, nationalistic tendencies existed in Marxism of the SPD- Maoism and third worldism is another great example. In Marx's case tho, it made sense to support Irish and polish independence, just like it made sense to support Germany in the franco-prussian war- it was the right position from the point of the working class and ultimately good for internationalism. We can get into that, but I'll keep it short for now.

Problem with anarchist nationalism is it supports a blood and Soil corellary, often masked by localism, federalism, and the romantic valorization of pastoral life. These things run much deeper. Combine this with the naive lack of an approach to political power and its fertile ground for third positionism. Look at how the FORA was unable to deal with politics and fell into the arms of Peronism, for instance.

MT

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by MT on November 3, 2015

Problem with anarchist nationalism is it supports a blood and Soil corellary, often masked by localism, federalism, and the romantic valorization of pastoral life. These things run much deeper.

Examples being?...

Reddebrek

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Reddebrek on November 3, 2015

kingzog

Undoubtedly, nationalistic tendencies existed in Marxism of the SPD- Maoism and third worldism is another great example. In Marx's case tho, it made sense to support Irish and polish independence, just like it made sense to support Germany in the franco-prussian. We can get into that, but I'll keep it short for now.

Problem with anarchist nationalism is it supports a blood and Soil corellary, often masked by localism, federalism, and the romantic valorization of pastoral life. These things run much deeper. Combine this with the naive lack of an approach to political power and its fertile ground for third positionism. Look at how the FORA was unable to deal with politics and fell into the arms of Peronism, for instance.

Ah I see so when people you like demonstrate things you've criticised its perfectly fine, when people you don't like do the same thing its cause for alarm.

Very `rational` of you.

kingzog

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kingzog on November 6, 2015

Marx's basis for supporting Irish and Polish independence was not on the basis of nationalism. When third positionists support ethnic seperatism(explicitly in they're case), or petr Kropotkin, it is on that basis (nationalism) however.

So, no, its not the same. Do you have any idea why Marx supported Polish and Irish independence? Or why he sided with Germany in the Franco-Prussian war?

kingzog

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kingzog on November 6, 2015

I would say the "blood and soil" comes mainly from strains of anarchism and ultra-leftism (communizationism, primarily) which are crypto-primitivist and pro-localist- or even "anarchy-in-one-country". These tendencies are pastoralist and localist- internationalism in that context is a bad joke.

I also think soc-dem type anarchists (George cicarillo-maher and z mag types) are prone to a third-worldism which is not fascist or third positionists, but closer to maosist third-worldism.

Ironically, anarcho-syndicalism, as it exists, is typically oppossed to all this, but its still a part of the anarchist family... Also, its prone to fallacies about oligarchy inevitably befalling from bureaucracy, which tends to, eventually, promote a structurelessnes tyranny.

Sorel was a big believer in the iron-law-of-oligarchy and he was very skeptical of political authority in any republican sense. He also believed in the power of the ideologically pure sect which conspires to influence and push the masses to revolt and yet also positions itself as the leader of the movement to abolish society during the great cataclysmic revolt.

Because Sorel didn't believe in formal, ostensibly republican political organization, or the need for a political formation to work for mass support, this leaves a vaccumm for demagoguery and strong men, who position themselves as ideologically infallible- by virtue of their charisma, the performance of their identity, and political shrewdness. These persons eventually come to exercise supreme leadership, isemi-formally, over a loosely structured(where, again, personalities rather than procedures and pluralistic argumentation prevail) organization.

One can see the evolution of the "il Duce" idea from this starting point as a solution to Sorelianisms practical shortcomings. Anarchism itself suffers from this false starting point just as much as Sorelianism. This is why the FORA fell into the arms of Peron and why the councilists failed to rise to the challenge of ascending to political power.

Khawaga

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on November 6, 2015

Damn, Kinzog I can see the stars in your eyes while reading these posts.

Reddebrek

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Reddebrek on November 6, 2015

kingzog

Marx's basis for supporting Irish and Polish independence was not on the basis of nationalism. When third positionists support ethnic seperatism(explicitly in they're case), or petr Kropotkin, it is on that basis (nationalism) however.

So, no, its not the same. Do you have any idea why Marx supported Polish and Irish independence? Or why he sided with Germany in the Franco-Prussian war?

Oh dear resorting to italicisation are we? Why Marx supported them is irrelevant (though for the record I am well aware of his excuses), he supported Nationalist movements, therefore he supported Nationalism. The fact you can't explain the "difference" beyond baseless denials speaks volumes.

Third worldists and bolsheviks (groups you've previously admitted supported nationalism) supported independence struggles for their own reasons too, and yet curiously you aren't extending them the same courtesy. It's almost as if your letting emotions cloud your `rational thinking`.

AndrewF

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by AndrewF on November 6, 2015

No true Marxist, heh?

Anarcho

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Anarcho on November 6, 2015

Well, this old nonsense has surfaced again! Luckily, it is covered in "An Anarchist FAQ":

A.5.5 Anarchists in the Italian Factory Occupations

Relevant bits...

First, the Italian Syndicalist movement was unusual in that a large section of it came from the Italian Socialist Party, that is they were Marxists. As David D. Roberts notes "In Italy, the syndicalist doctrine was more clearly the product of a group of intellectuals, operating within the Socialist party and seeking an alternative to reformism." They "explicitly denounced anarchism" and "insisted on a variety of Marxist orthodoxy." The "syndicalists genuinely desired -- and tried -- to work within the Marxist tradition." (The Syndicalist Tradition and Italian Fascism, p. 66, p. 72, p. 57 and p. 79)

This is the standard work on this subject -- and, ironically, the one those who seek to link anarcho-syndicalism to fascism often reference. In short, the few syndicalists who became fascists were Marxist-syndicalists. As for Mussolini, he was a leader of the Italian Socialist Party...

Second, the few syndicalists who became fascists where those who had become "national syndicalists" and supported the first world war. This was minority of the syndicalists in Italy if by syndicalists we mean members of the USI (the Italian Syndicalist Union). Roberts states that:

"The vast majority of the organised workers failed to respond to the syndicalists' appeals and continued to oppose [Italian] intervention [in the First World War], shunning what seemed to be a futile capitalist war. The syndicalists failed to convince even a majority within the USI . . . the majority opted for the neutralism of Armando Borghi, leader of the anarchists within the USI. Schism followed as De Ambris led the interventionist minority out of the confederation." (The Syndicalist Tradition and Italian Fascism, p. 113)

However, if we take "syndicalist" to mean some of the intellectuals and "leaders" of the pre-war movement, it was a case that the "leading syndicalists came out for intervention quickly and almost unanimously" (Roberts, Op. Cit., p. 106) after the First World War started -- but these were those Marxist-syndicalists mentioned above. In fact, it was the First World War which saw anarchists become dominant in the USI -- because they opposed the war from a class war and internationalist position.

Third, the anarchists and syndicalists where those who most consistently fought the fascists:

"It is no coincidence that the strongest working-class resistance to Fascism was in . . . towns or cities in which there was quite a strong anarchist, syndicalist or anarcho-syndicalist tradition." [Tobias Abse,"The Rise of Fascism in an Industrial City", pp. 52-81, Rethinking Italian Fascism, David Forgacs (ed.), p. 56]

Finally, may I also recommend my review-article: The irresistible correctness of anarchism

Red Marriott

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Red Marriott on November 6, 2015

You’re really having to twist the facts to ‘prove’ the supposed superiority of your undefined Marxism – which doesn’t include the Marxists (eg, Sorel) you keep criticising to ‘prove’ the inferiority of anarchism. It would help if – rather than your repeated assertions backed up by nothing - you could show some evidence and quotes to back up your claims. Eg, where does Sorel make his claim for an elite governing body? Where is this “blood and soil” ideology in anarchism? Is it more or less present than in Marxism? I don’t have an ideological bias one way or other but your bias is so blatantly distorting that I’d like to question its basis.

Kingzog

Syndicalism ... can indeed fit right into sorelianism

Sorel’s ideas are not something syndicalism “can indeed fit right into” – as his ideas were largely an external response to, commentary and reflection on the emergence of a pre-existing syndicalism. Nor did he have much, if any, influence on an already-established syndicalist practice.

zog

Ironically, anarcho-syndicalism, as it exists, is typically oppossed to all this, but its still a part of the anarchist family...

Unlike your undefined cherry-picked Marxism which has conveniently disowned the close marxist relatives that don’t fit your convoluted argument. You're the biggest "revisionist" of the lot.

zog

Sorel ... believed in the power of the ideologically pure sect which conspires to influence and push the masses to revolt and yet also positions itself as the leader of the movement to abolish society during the great cataclysmic revolt.

Kingzog (and others who don’t seem to have read Sorel) regularly repeat that this elitist concept was present in Sorel. Kingzog, can you please point out exactly where it occurs in Reflections on Violence, his central and most influential work? I can’t find it – but can find plenty suggesting the opposite. As summarised by a recent editor of Sorel;

Syndicalism conceived the transmission of power not in terms of the replacement of one intellectual elite by another but as a process diffusing authority down into the workers’ own organizations. Those organizations,
unlike a system of political democracy replete with Rousseauian
baggage, provided a pattern of genuine and effective representation.
http://libcom.org/files/Sorel-Reflections-on-Violence-ed-Jennings.pdf

Direct quotes from Sorel’s RoV;

“The works of my friends have been treated with great contempt by
the socialists who mix in politics, but at the same time with much
sympathy by people who do not concern themselves with parlia-
mentary affairs. We cannot be suspected of seeking to carry on a
kind of intellectual industry and we protest every time that we are
confused with the Intellectuals who are the very people who make
the exploitation of thought their profession. The old stagers of
democracy cannot understand why so much trouble should be taken
unless one secretly aims at the leadership of the working class. How-
ever, we could not act in any other way.

The man who has constructed a utopia designed to make
humanity happy is inclined to look upon his invention as his own
personal property; he believes that no one is better placed than he
is to apply his system; he finds it quite unreasonable that his writ-
ings should not secure for him a post in government. But we, on
the contrary, have not invented anything at all, and even assert that
there is nothing to be invented: we have limited ourselves to defin-
ing the historical significance of the idea of the general strike; we
have tried to show that a new culture might spring from the struggle
of the revolutionary trade unions against the employers and the
State; our greatest claim to originality consists in having maintained
that the proletariat can emancipate itself without needing to seek
guidance from those members of the bourgeoisie who consider
themselves experts in matters of the intellect. We have thus been
led to regard as essential in contemporary affairs what had pre-
viously been seen as accessory: what is really educative for a revol-
utionary proletariat that is serving its apprenticeship in struggle. It
would be impossible for us to exercise any direct influence on such
a work of preparation.

We may play a useful role, but only if we limit ourselves to
attacking bourgeois thought in such a way as to put the proletariat
on guard against the invasion of ideas and morals from the hostile
class.”

[...] “In the mouths of these would-be representatives of the proletariat
all socialist formulas lose their real sense. The class struggle still
remains the great principle, but it must be subordinated to national
solidarity.

Internationalism is an article of faith about which the
most moderate declare themselves ready to take the most solemn
oaths; but patriotism also imposes sacred duties.

The emancipation of the workers must be the work of the workers themselves, as their newspapers tell us every day, but real emancipation consists in
voting for a professional politician, in securing for him the means
of obtaining a comfortable situation, in subjecting oneself to a
leader. In the end the State must disappear and they are very careful
not to dispute what Engels has written on the subject; but this
disappearance will take place only in a future so far distant that one
must prepare oneself for it by using the State, meanwhile, as a
means of allowing politicians to gorge themselves; and the best
means of bringing about the disappearance of the State consists in
strengthening temporarily the governmental machine. Gribouille,
who threw himself into the water in order to escape getting wet in
the rain, would not have reasoned otherwise. And so on and so on.”

[...] “A decisive step towards reform was made when those Marxists
who aspired to think for themselves began to study the syndicalist
movement; they discovered that ‘the genuine members of the
syndicates have more to teach us than they have to learn from us’.”

[...] “Too much stress cannot be laid on the fact that Marxism con-
demns every hypothesis about the future constructed by the utopi-
ans. Professor Brentano of Munich relates that in 1869 Marx wrote
to his friend Beesly (who had published an article on the future of
the working class) to say that up till then he had looked upon him
as the sole revolutionary Englishman and that henceforth he looked
upon him as a reactionary – for, he said, ‘whoever draws up a
programme for the future is a reactionary’. He considered that the proletariat had no need to take lessons from the learned inventors of solutions to social problems but simply to take up where capitalism left off.” [...]

“Experience gained in strikes leads us to a conception identical
with that of Marx. The workers who put down their tools do not
go to their employers with schemes for the better organization of
labour and do not offer them assistance in the management of their
business; in short, utopias have no place in economic conflicts.
Jaures and his friends are well aware that this is a very strong argu-
ment against their own ideas of the way in which socialism is to be
realized:they would like even now to have fragments of the indus-
trial programmes manufactured by learned sociologists and accepted
by the workers introduced into strike negotiations; they would like
to see the creation of what they call industrial parliamentarism
which, exactly as in the case of political parliamentarism, would imply
masses who are led and demagogues that show them the way. This
would be the apprentice stage of their sham socialism and might
begin at once.

With the general strike all these fine things disappear; the revol-
ution appears as a revolt, pure and simple, and no place is reserved
for sociologists, for fashionable people who are in favour of social
reforms, and for Intellectuals who have embraced the profession of
thinking for the proletariat
”.
http://libcom.org/files/Sorel-Reflections-on-Violence-ed-Jennings.pdf

888

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by 888 on November 7, 2015

Why was supporting Prussia a good idea? It was fucking stupid and all of Marx's practical proposals and strategies were really shit and wrong.

MT

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by MT on November 7, 2015

I am lost here. The quotes from Sorel are meant to be the evidence of what exactly?

Red Marriott

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Red Marriott on November 7, 2015

MT

The quotes from Sorel are meant to be the evidence of what exactly?

Red

Kingzog (and others who don’t seem to have read Sorel) regularly repeat that this elitist concept was present in Sorel. Kingzog, can you please point out exactly where it occurs in Reflections on Violence, his central and most influential work? I can’t find it – but can find plenty suggesting the opposite.

akai

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by akai on November 7, 2015

l recommend people read Anarcho's article, it is very interesting.

(l don't agree with some of the implied lessons for anarchists, but that's another story.)

From Anarcho's article you can see how some are trying to recouperate anti-fascist struggles and eliminate the anarchist role in them. This is sometimes accompanied by some sort of revisionism or conclusions that work to support their general anti-anarchist arguments. lf the SWP was bad on this, Kingzog is being much worse with his exaggerations. l'm hardly one to turn a bad eye to any bad politics coming from anarchists, but his lines are pretty crap.

Some people brought up the issue of Poland. That could be another topic. lt is not such an easy one. Much as l am critical of Polish nationalism, it has not been the same throughout history.

ln the era after 1789, nationalism was seen in a different way by those interested in democracy. We can argue about bourgeoise notions of democracy or not, but from a historical perspective, we can see that struggle to construct the idea of a "nation" of citizens as opposed to monarchy, serfdom, etc. ln 1791, Poland was the first European nation to write a constitution and, without going into more critical analysis, suffice it to say that the idea of Polish national sovreignity had many social revolutionary elements, not the least of which was the overthrow of Tsarist and noble rule.

The sort of blood and soil types of ideas did not really come into Polish nationalism until much later. There were both left and conservative, anti-semitic strains of nationalism in the early 20th century, but not really in the early 19th. lt should also be remembered that at some point, Poland was quite multiethnic, Poland and Lithuanian nationhood was linked, Jews enjoyed the best situation in Europe under the Commonwealth and their situation deteriorated after the partitions, so many supported and participated in the November Uprising for Polish national sovreignty.

The November Uprising of 1930 was indeed praised by most revolutionaries, including Karl Marx, who also praised the Krakow Uprising of 1946 as a truly revolutionary movement. Marx seemed to change ideas about aspects of the Polish national cause. There may be a link with Engel's criticisms of Bakunin after the Appeal to the Slavs and Engels' response.

l will not defend Bakunin's writings of that era. Although his intent is obvious, it is hard to agree with Pan-Slavism. ln the context of "Poland", or, perhaps better referred to as the areas inhabited by ethnic Poles, these were multiethnic places, so it is unclear, from Bakunin's work, whether or not Lithuanians were to be included in the appeal (not being Slavs) or whether the sizeable Jewish population were to be considered Slavs or not. (There were, throughout that era, different interpretations but l would supposed Bakunin did not include them.)

This said, Bakunin's views changed, as did the characteristics of the Polish causes for nationhood. They changed in many aspects in the period between 1830 and the Second Republic. Bakunin became disillusioned over some aspects of the January Uprising in relation to "Ukraine"... long story but he saw that national interests could overpower the mythological Slavic brotherhood.

Some people argue that Bakunin developed his ideas and only really became an anarchist in the 1860s. That also is another issue.

For all the problems in Bakunin's views of the Pan-Slavic period (and, whether or not he should be considered as at anarchist at this time), what Engels produced as a criticIsm to Bakunin l find to be much worse:

"We repeat: apart from the Poles, the Russians, and at most the Turkish Slavs, no Slav people has a future, for the simple reason that all the other Slavs lack the primary historical, geographical, political and industrial conditions for independence and viability.

Peoples which have never had a history of their own, which from the time when they achieved the first, most elementary stage of civilization already came under foreign sway, or which were forced to attain the first stage of civilization only by means of a foreign yoke, are not viable and will never be able to achieve any kind of independence."

...

"In point of fact, the position of the Germans and Magyars would be extremely pleasant if the Austrian Slavs were assisted to get their so-called rights! An independent Bohemian-Moravian state would be wedged between Silesia and Austria; Austria and Styria would be cut off by the "South-Slav republic" from their natural debouche [outlet] - the Adriatic Sea and the Mediterranean; and the eastern part of Germany would be torn to pieces like a loaf of bread that has been gnawed by rats! And all that by way of thanks for the Germans having given themselves the trouble of civilizing the stubborn Czechs and Slovenes, and introducing among them trade, industry, a tolerable degree of agriculture, and culture!

But it is precisely this yoke imposed on the Slavs under the pretext of civilization that is said to constitute one of the greatest crimes of the Germans and Magyars!"

MT

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by MT on November 7, 2015

Red Marriott

MT

The quotes from Sorel are meant to be the evidence of what exactly?

Red

Kingzog (and others who don’t seem to have read Sorel) regularly repeat that this elitist concept was present in Sorel. Kingzog, can you please point out exactly where it occurs in Reflections on Violence, his central and most influential work? I can’t find it – but can find plenty suggesting the opposite.

OK, so the point is that Sorel was more or less egalitarian (when I read the the quotes, it almost seemed so)? (Sorry, it is not quite easy to understand everything when you say as I am not a native speaker.)

kingzog

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kingzog on November 7, 2015

I am lost here. The quotes from Sorel are meant to be the evidence of what exactly?

Exactly, they're flailing about, text dumping (a form of info overload meant to confound the recipient) irrelevant quotes from Sorel. A true sign of desperation...

kingzog

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kingzog on November 7, 2015

It was right to support Prussia in the Franco-Prussian war. Marx was not very public about this- his address to the International was ambiguous on the subject.

Nonetheless, I think it would be correct to not be defeatist from a German Perspective. The war was a defensive war against reactionary Bonapartism, had France won, the working class on the continent would be worse off. And conversly, a french defeat would cause the collapse of the Bonapartist regime and the possibility of a more favorable government from the french working class perspective, which would in turn put pressure on more conservative regimes in Europe- Germany included. It would be moronic to always be defeatist in any war. Conversly, defeatism made sense in the case of Russia in ww1, which was a very regressive regime(much more than Imperial Germany), even though this effectively aided Imperial Germany! A lot of people forget that. Kropotkin included, who bo doubt would have had the Russians fight to the death. Which is moronic.

As far as Sorel goes, its ironic that now we have his defenders here arguing he wasn't effectively elitist. My point before was his strategy effectively leads to an elitism(similar I'd say to Bakunins invisible dictatorship). It's basically a tyranny of structurelessnes bases on a skepticism of bureaucracy and republican democracy. This standpot is not disputed, but I can provide textual evidence if anyone desires. So anyway, pleads that he felt his system was more egalitarian are irrelevant- what matters is what logically follows from his strand-point, not his intentions per se.

And on Sorel's Marxism and the Italian syndicalists; no one disputes they once considered themselves "Marxists", but they were as much Marxist as Bernstein was a Marxist. That is, they were revisionists- and what a revision! But I find this version of, revision of(and Sorel did not dispute this was revisionism), Marxism(which factully has very little to do with Marxism) much in line with all that is wrong with anarchism and left-communism today, frankly- it takes a gross perversion of " Marxism" to lead to anarchistic proto-facism essentially.

Anarcho

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Anarcho on November 7, 2015

kingzog

And on Sorel's Marxism and the Italian syndicalists; no one disputes they once considered themselves "Marxists", but they were as much Marxist as Bernstein was a Marxist. That is, they were revisionists- and what a revision! But I find this version of, revision of(and Sorel did not dispute this was revisionism), Marxism(which factully has very little to do with Marxism) much in line with all that is wrong with anarchism and left-communism today, frankly.

Actually, Sorel considered himself as rediscovering the real, revolutionary, ideas of Marx and saving them from the "Marxism" of the Second International...

In terms of the Italian syndicalists, they considered themselves Marxists -- and they later became fascists. I think this significant -- particularly if (as seems usually the case) that the Italian syndicalists are being used to attack anarcho-syndicalism!

Proclaiming that the fate of the Italian (Marxist-)syndicalists indicates "all that is wrong with anarchism" today is frankly crazy... What a few Italian marxists ended up becoming has little to do with anarchism or anarcho-syndicalism.

kingzog

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kingzog on November 7, 2015

...think of it this way. The proto-fascist syndicalists had some vague affinity for a watered down Marxism, which they then revised into its opposite. One would be stretching the truth to say this was a "perversion" of Marxism. Especially orthodox Marxism(which was Parliamenary, believed in republican Democratic organization, revolutionary patience and building mass support, rationalism, etc). However, many of he basic principles are entirely in line with anarchism-left-communism and this is why, IMO, we see people start out anarchist or ultra-left, but then sometimes turn into far-rightists or third-positionists.

Red Marriott

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Red Marriott on November 7, 2015

kingzog

Exactly, they're flailing about, text dumping (a form of info overload meant to confound the recipient) irrelevant quotes from Sorel. A true sign of desperation...

Another kingzog claim backed up by nothing - an attempted dismissal to avoid dealing with the content that shows that, yet again, your claims are false. I'm plainly disproving yet another of your assertions by plentiful relevant quotes from Sorel. All you've done is keep making various assertions backed up by no evidence or quotes. If I''ve missed it then show where "this elitist concept was present in Sorel" is evident - otherwise admit that you're again wrong.

kingzog

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kingzog on November 7, 2015

Anarcho, my argument isn't based necessarily on how people identified themselves, which is essentially irrelevent, or "who came from where". But more the " how" and especially the actual theoretical and practical similarities between sorelianism and anarchism-ultra-leftism- which are substantial.

So far, no one has disputes the connections between the two other than to plead to how the sorellians (incorrectly, although again, this is irrelevent) identified themselves.

MT

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by MT on November 7, 2015

What the hell is this discussion about?! That anarchism and anarchosyndicalism - with federalist and direct democracy mechanisms - have nationalism in their DNA (and of course, should be avoided...)? And the evidence being some shitheads in Italy claimed (?) that they are the true bearers of anarchism and anarchosyndicalism, and therefore shifted to fascism?

Khawaga

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on November 7, 2015

But for Akai's initial OP and some of the immediate comments, this thread has devolved into: throwing feces, see what sticks.

syndicalist

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by syndicalist on November 7, 2015

Khawaga

But for Akai's initial OP and some of the immediate comments, this thread has devolved into: throwing feces, see what sticks.

Ah, that's what's on the bottom of my shoe!

really, I thought Akai made some good, solid points. The devolution from that is, well, not surprising any more, but adds little to anything.

Red Marriott

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Red Marriott on November 7, 2015

However terrible or tedious it may've been to read I see a point to countering the revisionism and historical distortion expressed here by kingzog, Reid - and by Black Flame earlier. I don’t even have a particular preference for anarchism, syndicalism or Sorel over marxism(s) – but much of what’s been said is blatant distortion; whether based on ignorance, dishonesty, ideological bias and/or blinkered rigid belief systems I don’t see a problem with pointing that out. Especially as such revisionism seems to be a growing trend.

akai

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by akai on November 7, 2015

l think Red Marriot and Anarcho made good points. The problem here for me is with Kingzog and some segment of the left and anti-syndicalist anarchists who have exaggerated the point, one to throw shit on anarchism, the other to through shit on organization, class struggle or whatever it is they are against.

ln the meanwhile, l do recommend Anarcho's article.

Khawaga

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on November 7, 2015

FWIW, my comment wasn't directed at Red Marriot at all.

syndicalist

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by syndicalist on November 7, 2015

The problem here for me is with Kingzog and some segment of the left and anti-syndicalist anarchists who have exaggerated the point, one to throw shit on anarchism, the other to through shit on organization, class struggle or whatever it is they are against.

Indeed.

Entdinglichung

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Entdinglichung on November 7, 2015

Entdinglichung

one of the first NSDAP branches outside Bavaria, the one in Dortmund-Mengedde was in 1922 founded by people who were in its majority former members of the FAUD, but they were neither representative for the FAUD, nor for the Nazis

just to add: if I remember correctly from Mueller' article, we are talking about eight people from an FAUD branch which was in 1920 around 1000 members strong (less than 1%)

MT

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by MT on November 7, 2015

But you know, 8 is more than 0 ergo anarchism is just fascism in disguise:)

kingzog

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kingzog on November 7, 2015

My point isn't to show anarchism has fascist dna- that's an exaggeration and a caricature of what I've been demonstrating. My point is that Sorelianism and anarchism share a few of the same starting points and methods- so its not too surprising that anarchists who come to reject internationalism and so on, can move to being far rightists, or third-positionists, but still maintain a sort of "anarchist" identity. Ultra-lefts fit in this category too.

Reddebrek

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Reddebrek on November 7, 2015

kingzog

My point isn't to show anarchism has fascist dna- that's an exaggeration and a caricature of what I've been demonstrating.

You haven't been demonstrating anything, all your claims have been disputed and you don't provide a counter response, you just change what you've said previously a little bit.

You've also exposed yourself as being very close to the things you criticise in the process.

My point is that Sorelianism and anarchism share a few of the same starting points and methods- so its not too surprising that anarchists who come to reject internationalism and so on, can move to being far rightists, or third-positionists, but still maintain a sort of "anarchist" identity. Ultra-lefts fit in this category too.

So how far right have you moved may I ask?

kingzog

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kingzog on November 8, 2015

This isn't about my politics reddebrek(I'm an orthodox center-left Marxist).

None of my claims have been adequately challenged either. Instead, there has been obtuse defense of Sorel, mischaracterization of what I've written, and attacks on Marxism and myself. Frankly, its been pathetic.

Sike

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Sike on November 8, 2015

kingzog

This isn't about my politics reddebrek(I'm an orthodox center-left Marxist).

Kingzog, just out of curiosity, what exactly is an "Orthodox center-left Marxist"?

Hieronymous

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Hieronymous on November 8, 2015

Sike

kingzog

This isn't about my politics reddebrek(I'm an orthodox center-left Marxist).

Kingzog, just out of curiosity, what exactly is an "Orthodox center-left Marxist"?

It's indistinguishable from this:

MT

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by MT on November 8, 2015

kingzog

anarchists who come to reject internationalism and so on, can move to being

............. here you can add whatever you like.

anarchists who come to reject internationalism? yeah, these truely represent anarchism...

such a strawman.

Black Badger

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Black Badger on November 8, 2015

"Orthodox Marxist" is definitely code for one of the 57 varieties of Trot

Anarcho

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Anarcho on November 8, 2015

kingzog

My point isn't to show anarchism has fascist dna- that's an exaggeration and a caricature of what I've been demonstrating. My point is that Sorelianism and anarchism share a few of the same starting points and methods- so its not too surprising that anarchists who come to reject internationalism and so on, can move to being far rightists, or third-positionists, but still maintain a sort of "anarchist" identity. Ultra-lefts fit in this category too.

What the hell is this meant to mean? "Sorelianism" does not equal fascism -- indeed, Sorel considered himself as a Marxist, indeed trying to reclaim the "true" Marxism from those who had turned it into reformism. Claims that before his death said a few positive things about fascism in Italy are not credible.

In terms of this thread, so far no one has shown that Italian anarcho-syndicalists became fascists -- or "reject[ed] internationalism." Quite the reverse as it has been shown that it was Marxist-syndicalists who rejected internationalism and, for some, embraced fascism.

In terms of "anarchists" who "can more to being far rightists", I am not aware of many. Perhaps because they weren't really anarchists to begin with? Also, even if they want to keep calling themselves "anarchists" does not make it the case. The example of the editor of "Green Anarchist" being a (the only?) case in point -- primitivism is not anarchist and so his move to the right shows that.

Anarcho

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Anarcho on November 8, 2015

kingzog

...think of it this way. The proto-fascist syndicalists had some vague affinity for a watered down Marxism, which they then revised into its opposite.

They considered themselves as the real Marxists fighting against the "watered down" Marxism of orthodox Second International Marxism. And so nothing to do with anarcho-syndicalism...

kingzog

One would be stretching the truth to say this was a "perversion" of Marxism.

But of they had been anarcho-syndicalists then it would have been good evidence against anarchism?

kingzog

However, many of he basic principles are entirely in line with anarchism-left-communism and this is why, IMO, we see people start out anarchist or ultra-left, but then sometimes turn into far-rightists or third-positionists.

So correct me if I am wrong but you seem to be arguing that the activities of these Marxist-syndicalists says nothing about Marxism but a lot about anarchism... I'm not sure how that follows.

Overall, Kinzog is talking pants -- a classic case of trying to have it both ways.

Reddebrek

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Reddebrek on November 8, 2015

kingzog

This isn't about my politics reddebrek(I'm an orthodox center-left Marxist).

So confirming my first comment about capital M Marxism being an ardent crutch for nationalism (which is quite sad because I did that as a joke), thanks.

None of my claims have been adequately challenged either.

If this were true you wouldn't keep changing them.

Instead, there has been obtuse defense of Sorel, mischaracterization of what I've written, and attacks on Marxism and myself. Frankly, its been pathetic.

Funnily enough I think you're the only ones whose attacked Marxism here by exposing him as an ardent Nationalist and then defended it, whilst having ago at others for the same perceived slight.

I mean someone who supports a nation state in a war with another is bad enough, but one who backs one of the butchers of the Paris Commune, has no business wagging the finger at anyone else.

Is the phrase about throwing stones in glass houses just not said anymore?

kingzog

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kingzog on November 10, 2015

You guys keep missing the point about syndicalism, its similarities and shared starting points with bakununism(councilism too) and Sorelianism. This is all I've been saying. This says nothing about Marxism or marxists' failings, but about the shared theoretical ground between Anarchism and Sorelianism- and councilism and communizationism I'd ad.

What's really telling is how, in desperation, a lot of you guys are trying to attack my politics- which is irrelevent to the initial questions.

Sike and Hieronymus, are you two that politically illiterate to not understand what an orthodox Marxist is? Or center-left in that context(hint, Karl Kautsky- though not isomorphic)? cheeky question, yes, but come on guys, don't embarrass yourselves.

Reddebrek, what do you think nationalism means? The definition? Do you think Marx feeling it would be positive for the working class if the Bonapartist regime in France collapsed is an example of nationalism? Hint- Nationalism would be if he supported Prussia because his politics were nationalist.

Next, I think we should play a game of "who said it, Bakunin or Sorel?"...sounds fun, right? Stay tuned...

syndicalist

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by syndicalist on November 10, 2015

kingzog

politically illiterate to not understand what an orthodox Marxist is?

I must be cause I've no clue what an "orthodox marxist" is.

Khawaga

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on November 10, 2015

but come on guys, don't embarrass yourselves.

Don't worry, in the embarrassment department you're winning by a mile.

kingzog

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kingzog on November 10, 2015

Syndicalist, yes you are probably ignorant in that dept. That's not an insult, ignorance and stupidity and idiocy are seperate. One can be smart and also ignorant.

But orthodox Marxism is reffering to 2nd international Marxism- which was dominated by the German SPD. The center-left was the dominant tendency within the SPD whose theortician was Karl Kautsky. I don't agree with Kautksy on everything- and like I said, my politics(or you're politics) is irrelevent here. It's a red herring(a logical fallacy) from some bitter anarchists and councilists(communizationismists) who get defensive when you point out the elitism inherent in their essentially Bakuninist politics.

Khawaga

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on November 10, 2015

It's a red herring(a logical fallacy)

Complaining about logical fallacies is a bit rich coming from someone whose entire argument on this thread has been one big logical fallacy (guilt by association).

syndicalist

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by syndicalist on November 10, 2015

One can be smart and also ignorant.

Reminds me of something the late Sam Dolgoff often said:

" S/he's read everything and learned nothing."

orthodox Marxism is reffering to 2nd international Marxism-

Is this how that time period commonly is refered to in marxian circles?

elitism inherent in their essentially Bakuninist politics

Yikes.

Red Marriott

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Red Marriott on November 10, 2015

So Kingzog the “real Marxist” considers 19th-early 20th C social democracy to be that real Marxism; and all critique of that parliamentarist reformism to be “revisionism”. This is the same SPD that crushed all revolutionary tendencies (including Marxists) in the post-WWI aftermath. The same SPD that voted for WWI like good German nationalists (while Kautsky advocated abstention) – yet he claims it's anarchists who have the tendency to abandon internationalism and embrace nationalism, duh...

His Marxism is the same 2nd Int. Social Democracy that, via the PSI, inconveniently produced those same Italian national syndicalists-turned-fascists Kingzog has been so keen to try to disown. Kingzog has still failed, despite repeated requests, to reference where the “elitist concept” can found in the Marxist Sorel’s writings or where the “blood & soil” ideology can be found in anarchism – so we can conclude on that score he’s wrong and doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Kingzog seems to be thoughtlessly parroting some Leninist cut’n’paste central committee official line on ‘ultra-left deviationism’ etc; that is perhaps the main source of his arrogance and historical ignorance.

Anarcho

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Anarcho on November 14, 2015

kingzog

You guys keep missing the point about syndicalism, its similarities and shared starting points with bakununism(councilism too) and Sorelianism.

Anarchists generally point out the clear links between Bakunin's ideas and syndicalism -- I've take a SWPer to task for denying them (see my review-article here). Its "shared" starting point is working class self-organisation and struggle at the point of production.

In terms of "sorelianism", well, depends what you mean -- but Sorel was a Marxist who utilised an already existing syndicalist union movement to try and push marxism back to being revolutionary after the Second International made it reformist (although that was predicted by Bakunin due to the tactics Marx was advocating).

kingzog

This is all I've been saying. This says nothing about Marxism or marxists' failings, but about the shared theoretical ground between Anarchism and Sorelianism- and councilism and communizationism I'd ad.

Sorel was a Marxist. The Italian syndicalists who became fascists were Marxists. I would suggest that it does say a lot about Marxism -- far more than it says about anarchism.

kingzog

What's really telling is how, in desperation, a lot of you guys are trying to attack my politics- which is irrelevent to the initial questions.

Your politics is a problem in-so-far as they are stopping you seeing the blindly obvious -- and the obvious flaws in your "initial questions"

kingzog

Reddebrek, what do you think nationalism means? The definition? Do you think Marx feeling it would be positive for the working class if the Bonapartist regime in France collapsed is an example of nationalism? Hint- Nationalism would be if he supported Prussia because his politics were nationalist.

Let me quote Marx:

The French need a thrashing. If the Prussians win, the centralisation of the state power will be useful for the centralisation of the German working class. German predominance would also transfer the centre of gravity of the workers' movement in Western Europe from France to Germany, and one has only to compare the movement in the two countries from 1866 till now to see that the German working class is superior to the French both theoretically and organisationally. Their predominance over the French on the world stage would also mean the predominance of our theory over Proudhon's, etc.

Sounds pretty nationalistic to me -- not to mention incredibly egoistical. The notion that it was good workers slaughtered themselves in a capitalist war to ensure his ideas take over from Proudhon's is shocking.

kingzog

Next, I think we should play a game of "who said it, Bakunin or Sorel?"...sounds fun, right? Stay tuned...

While you are at it, please quote Sorel on how he was a Marxist and how he was seeking to return Marxism to its revolutionary core...

Anarcho

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Anarcho on November 14, 2015

kingzog

But orthodox Marxism is reffering to 2nd international Marxism- which was dominated by the German SPD. The center-left was the dominant tendency within the SPD whose theortician was Karl Kautsky. I don't agree with Kautksy on everything- and like I said, my politics(or you're politics) is irrelevent here.

That would be the second international Marxism which Sorel and the Italian syndicalists came out of, turning to syndicalism in an attempt to return Marxism (their stated ideology) back to what they considered its revolutionary core?

You know, those Marxists who seem to be using to try and link anarchism to fascism...

kingzog

It's a red herring(a logical fallacy) from some bitter anarchists and councilists(communizationismists) who get defensive when you point out the elitism inherent in their essentially Bakuninist politics.

Oh, hmm. I would suggest you read up on "Bakuninist politics" before sprouting off on it. May I suggest:

The Revolutionary Ideas of Bakunin

Review: Bakunin: The creative passion

Bakunin: Ignorance or Lies

Will the real Bakunin please stand up?

I could add more, but that is enough with going on with...

Red Marriott

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Red Marriott on November 15, 2015

Bit of a diversion, but; has anyone read (or have access to) the book by Michael Freund - Georges Sorel.Der revolutionäre Konservativismus (1932) [Georges Sorel: Revolutionary Conservatism] ? This seems to be the original source of the claim of 'elitism' in Sorel. But it doesn't seem to have been translated into English from German.

akai

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by akai on November 15, 2015

Red, that's Nazi stuff as far as l know.

But if l recall correctly, in the 50s and 60s there was an interesting debate that referred, among other things to Freund's writings and specifically to Sorel and fascism. This was before my time, but some older friends told me about it, between Chiaromonte and a guy called Shapiro, whose book l had always meant to read but didn't. Apparently Shapiro was one who saw the genesis of fascist ideas in France and had his theories not only about Sorel but also Proudhon as being a source for fascist thought. l suppose he used Freund's work in his arguments. l didn't read this book, but it's in English and l know that a lot of articles and some public debates followed. This was before my time but l knew some people who told me about Chiaromonte, who was also a Spanish Civil War vet and at least in this point defended anarchists.

Red Marriott

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Red Marriott on November 15, 2015

Red, that's Nazi stuff as far as l know.

Thanks, I didn’t realise that; in Marcuse’s book ‘A Study on Authority’ – where he confusingly mixes quotes from Freund’s book and from RoV - Freund’s book on Sorel is just mentioned as “a good compilation of the material”.

I guess you mean this guy; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._Salwyn_Schapiro

Entdinglichung

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Entdinglichung on November 15, 2015

can't tell about the book by Michael Freund, only found out that it was published in 1972, not 1932 ... the publisher is an academic publishing house with a focus on philosophy, especially Martin Heidegger and Arnold Gehlen, will ask someone who may know more

Red Marriott

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Red Marriott on November 15, 2015

Thanks, Ent. It's referenced in Marcuse's 1936 book as 1932 (and referenced elsewhere for same date) so I reckon 1972 would be a reprint.

akai

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by akai on November 15, 2015

No, Freund's book was definitely published in 1932. He really was a nazi at that point and was considered an influential thinker back then. l know about Freund from references to him and the fact that he tried to appropriate Sorel and make stronger links between him and fascism. Any older date probably was a reprint.

ln terms of Schapiro, that's right, l was referring to that guy. l also did not read his book, but l knew an old student of his and some old anarchists and leftists who remember his ideas and were not happy with them. There were big debates in the 50s and into the 60s in leftist circles on issues related to fascism and people told me about some, which sounded very interesting. As l understand, there were a lot of debates in the leftist press. Also some anti-Stalinist were active in the debates and there sometimes were discussions like if Stalin was a fascist, or the connections between fascism and Stalinism, which also must have been interesting.

akai

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by akai on November 15, 2015

Oh look, l thought l'd look and see if any of these debates are on line but found thi s: http://libcom.org/library/pierre-joseph-proudhon-uncomfortable-thinker-nicola-chiaromonte

Entdinglichung

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Entdinglichung on November 15, 2015

according to German Wikipedia: Freund was during the 1920ies for a few years a member of the antiauthoritarian "Free Socialist Youth" (FSJ) and then an SPD member, after 1933, he was first involved as an editor in the weekly Blick in die Zeit, a paper run by social democrats which was up to 1935 when it was banned on of the few papers in Germany which managed to print uncensored news (mainly by quoting extensively foreign papers), after some professionel problems, Freund joined the NSDAP in 1940 and was aligned to an anti-semitic research body of the SS, after 1945, he was again close to the SPD ()with other people who worked 1933-45 on Blick in die Zeit) and became an important scholar, the Sorel book was republished in a new edition in 1972

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Freund

akai

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by akai on November 16, 2015

May have been an important scholar, but his political history shows he was fucked in the head.

Entdinglichung

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Entdinglichung on November 16, 2015

my guess is, that he belonged to what was called the neo-revisionist "activist" wing of the SPD before 1933: mostly younger politicians like Mierendorff, Leber, Schumacher, Haubach, etc. who belonged mostly to the party's right wing but were pressing to a more combative stance towards the Nazis but unlike the left wing of the party not through a revitalization of class struggle and a united front policy but through a more emotional, nationalistic, etc. style to beat the Nazis on their own terrain (including street politics)

Anarcho

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Anarcho on November 22, 2015

akai

Apparently Shapiro was one who saw the genesis of fascist ideas in France and had his theories not only about Sorel but also Proudhon as being a source for fascist thought.

Shapiro was a joke -- his so-called critique of Proudhon just showed how little he understood Proudhon or, more accurately, how willing he was to distort Proudhon's ideas to support his thesis. I critique some of his nonsense here:

Proudhon: Neither Washington nor Richmond

also:

"Pierre-Joseph Proudhon: an uncomfortable thinker" by Nicola Chiaromonte

I would go so far as to say, if you take Schapiro seriously then you simply don't know how wrong you are... he is up there with Marx for deliberate distortion about Proudhon.

syndicalistcat

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by syndicalistcat on November 23, 2015

Anarcho's claim that the Roberts book is some kind of credible treatment of syndicalism doesn't hold up. Syndicalism was a mass unionist trend built by worker militants, mainly auto-didacts, who were active in union organizations. To put it another way, syndicalism was a trend in radical labor movement politics, not developed in separation from the labor movement by isolated intellectuals. But the Roberts book never actually discusses the labor movement. It never actually discusses the reality of the USI for example. Rather, it solely focuses on certain individuals...Alberola, Sorel, Rossoni mainly. But Sorel was an isolated intellectual with no connection to the CGT militants in France. Moreover, there is no evidence that very many actual syndicalist militants paid much if any attention to Sorel. Yet Roberts defines syndicalism by reference to the writings of Sorel....a completely bogus methodology.

Rossoni at least had been involved in Italian revolutionary syndicalist activities. As someone pointed out, De Ambris, who was general secretary of USI, was a member of the Italian Socialist Party, as was Mussolini. As was the case in USA in years just before World War 1, a substantial part of the left of the socialist party was syndicalist in Italy. Musscolini was also a socialist & part of this direct actionist left of the socialist party. When Mussolini moved towards nationalism in 1915, it was De Ambris and other USI people from the socialist party left who moved to nationalism with Mussolini. It was at that point that the anarcho-syndicalists in USI rallied & at the 1916 congress removed De Ambris and the other nationalists from the secretariat of USI. At that time the nationalists split from USI, but they only took out 15,000 members, according to the account by Gwyn Williams in "Proletarian Order". that was only 10 percent of the membership at the time.

So this means they didn't even get that much support from the other USI members from the left of the socialist party. USI had been formed originally as a united front of militants with a direct action, syndicalist, anti-parliamentary orientation, including people from Socialist Party as well as anarchists. So the idea there was some major support for Mussolini's rightward moving nationalism among Italian syndicalists at the time is without foundation. People like Roberts are charlatans with an anti-syndicalist ax to grind. They try to make their case by not actually looking at the actual syndicalist movement but focusing on only a small handful of individual intellectuals.

so the people who went with Mussolini were *abandoning* syndicalism. When Rossoni visited the USA after World War 1, his former comrades of the Italian Syndicalist Federation in USA refused to talk with him. He was persona non grata.

Moreover the union that De Ambris, Rossoni and the others formed, UIL, very soon became characterized by a stance of class collaboration & conciliation towards Italian employers. In other words, they were rejecting syndicalism. Syndicalism is based on a hard class line...seeing an unbridgeable class antagonism between the dominating classes and the working class. To move to a conciliatory and corporatist direction is to abandon syndicalism. "National syndicalism" is no more syndicalist than "national socialism" is socialist.

The people who went from syndicalism to Mussolini were abandoning syndicalism by moving to the right. There is a long history of this...of former radicals moving to the right...examples of former anarchists, communists, syndicalists, socialists moving to the other side. This is a well known story.

Anarcho

8 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Anarcho on February 27, 2016

syndicalistcat

Anarcho's claim that the Roberts book is some kind of credible treatment of syndicalism doesn't hold up.

I said it was the standard work on the subject -- namely the "syndicalists" who became fascists. Roberts showed that these intellectuals came out of the Marxism and that the USI rejected their turn to nationalism in 1914.

syndicalistcat

But the Roberts book never actually discusses the labor movement. It never actually discusses the reality of the USI for example. Rather, it solely focuses on certain individuals...Alberola, Sorel, Rossoni mainly.

None of which changes my point, which was Roberts is the standard book on these intellectuals who came out of Italian Marxism, proclaimed themselves syndicalists and latter turned to nationalism and fascism.

I thought that was obvious in my comments -- particularly when I quoted Roberts on how these intellectuals became isolated in 1914: "The syndicalists failed to convince even a majority within the USI"

syndicalistcat

So the idea there was some major support for Mussolini's rightward moving nationalism among Italian syndicalists at the time is without foundation. People like Roberts are charlatans with an anti-syndicalist ax to grind. They try to make their case by not actually looking at the actual syndicalist movement but focusing on only a small handful of individual intellectuals.

As Roberts indicated -- his book is focused on a few intellectuals and as I noted, it is usually anti-syndicalists who misuse it to claim that "most" syndicalists became fascists!

as I indicated in the articles I linked to ("The irresistible correctness of anarchism" and "A.5.5 Anarchists in the Italian Factory Occupations"

Reddebrek

8 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Reddebrek on April 2, 2016

Re-read the blog and the comments, and this stuck out to me.

kingzog

Problem with anarchist nationalism is it supports a blood and Soil corellary, often masked by localism, federalism, and the romantic valorization of pastoral life. These things run much deeper. Combine this with the naive lack of an approach to political power and its fertile ground for third positionism. Look at how the FORA was unable to deal with politics and fell into the arms of Peronism, for instance.

What on earth are you talking about? FORA was driven underground when Peron came to power with a number of its members tortured to death. Despite that it continued to resist clandestinely organising strikes and demonstrations. The union confederation that capitulated to Peron was the CGT, an organisation that was founded by a merger of Marxist socialists and Marxist leaning syndicalists.

kingzog

8 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kingzog on April 2, 2016

Actually I was incorrect, the trade union movement itself, which remained syndicalist, fell into the arms of Peron. The FORA, however, as an institution had essentially ceased to exist by the early 30's and only remained in existence on paper.

kingzog

8 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kingzog on April 2, 2016

In fact, I can't even find info about it under peron, looks like it officially dissolved around 32, but somehow survived in some fashion within a successor type org.

akai

8 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by akai on April 2, 2016

FORA-AlT never dissolved. There was, long before 1930, a division in FORA, V Congress and lX Congress, the current organization deriving from the V Congress. lt never dissolved. There was some activity in the 40s and 50s, but not like before. lt was repressed, people were arrested for being against the government in the early 50s. But still it held a 6 month strike of port workers in 1956 - which was really something. You shouldn't confuse the lX Congress FORA from the V Congress.

Reddebrek

8 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Reddebrek on April 3, 2016

kingzog

In fact, I can't even find info about it under peron, looks like it officially dissolved around 32, but somehow survived in some fashion within a successor type org.

Really? That must have been an exhausting 3 minute search you undertook.

akai

8 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by akai on April 3, 2016

Good one. :-)

lt should be pointed out that the politics of FORA V was quite different than FORA lX and it was the latter which forayed into alliances and dissolved into them by 1930.

This shows that there is often a tendency in wider revolutionary syndicalism that moves in a crappy direction, however usually this results in splits with anarchosyndicalists.

What is more interesting is how some anarchists defended FORA lX ... but that is a different story.

Agent of the I…

6 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Agent of the I… on June 12, 2018

I'm not sure if this should be given its own thread, but last year, Reid Ross published a piece demonstrating 'how fascists court the post-left', which was inevitably shared on FaceBook over 2000 times. It angered a lot of post-leftists, whom issued a wide range of responses, some sincere attempts at rebuttal, others not so much. Ross followed those responses with a second piece, with the aim of defending his position.

I noticed there doesn't seem to have been any discussion regarding this on this site, which is understandable, considering the focus is on post-leftism. But what I find interesting in all of this is the author's continued treatment of syndicalism, in a way that is kinda muddled. The author also talks about the "utlra left", communisation theory, G. Dauve, et al., in an attempt to show their influences on the kind of post-leftist and individualist/egoist ideas that lends itself towards fascist entry-ism.

I wonder what thoughts any of you have on this, if you have the time to read those two pieces above, if you haven't already.

R Totale

6 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by R Totale on June 12, 2018

I read the first one at the time, can't now remember how many of the responses and counter-responses I got through. I thought this bit was pretty sloppy:

Even if they have for the most part denounced Guillaume and his entourage, the ultra-leftist rejection of specialized antifascism has remained somewhat popular—particularly as expounded by Dauvé, who insisted in the early 1980s that “fascism as a specific movement has disappeared.”

(highlighting mine)
I don't like the suggestion that the ultra-left/Dauve critique of specialised antifascism somehow undermines the position of those ultra-leftists who broke with Guillaume - that "even if" seems to suggest a contradiction that I don't see myself.

Also, because I think most of the post-left is absolute garbage but I like Ultra, I thought this bit was worth taking seriously, and that he really could've done with providing more evidence for it:

In another unsettling example of crossover between post-leftists and fascists, radicals associated with a nihilist group named Ultra harshly rebuked Rose City Antifa of Portland, Oregon, for releasing an exposé about Jack Donovan. An open member of the violent white nationalist group, Wolves of Vinland, Donovan also runs a gym called the Kabuki Strength Lab, which produces “manosphere” videos. As of November 2016, when the exposé was published, one member of Ultra was a member of the Kabuki Strength Lab. Although Donovan runs a tattoo shop out of the gym and gave Libertarian Party fascist Augustus Sol Invictus a tattoo of the fasces there, a fellow gym member wrote, “Obviously Jack has very controversial beliefs and practices that most disagree with; but I don’t believe it affects his behavior in the gym.” Donovan, who has publicly parroted “race realist” statistics at white nationalist gatherings like the National Policy Institute and the Pressure Project podcast, also embraces bioregionalism and the anticipation of a collapse of civilization that will lead to a reversion of identity-bound tribal structures at war with one another and reliant on natural hierarchies—an ideology that resonates with Ultra and some members of the broader post-left milieu.

FWIW, this is a discussion I had with someone involved with Ultra on the topic:
me

while I'm being nosy, do you have any idea what the deal is with Alexander Reid Ross claiming that Ultra people defend Jack Donovan?

them

well, arr is a fucking toad, but the truth is that one person who was sort of part of the ultra clique (we don’t have any kind of membership) went to the same gym as donovan and co and was defending the gym itself, quoting another gym-goer as saying that Jack and co kept their politics out of the gym (a claim that I’m honestly very skeptical of. ARR posted the quote from the other gym-goer and attributed it to ultra.

the one person who was part of the ultra clique, in my honest opinion, was waaay too soft on the issue, but saying that Ultra is pro-donovan or soft on the fash is just fucking irresponsible, especially when you consider that arr and I have mutual friends and have talked to each other before. he legit could’ve asked, but he didn’t because whatever he says, he is not a fucking journalist.

me

I did think it seemed pretty irresponsible for him to claim something that serious and then not provide screenshots, or a link, or any kind of context at all for readers to make up their own mind about what was going on.

them

i mean, like i said, the ultra person handled the situation poorly. i was on the thread too, and I also handled it poorly, albeit in a dif way, but sloppy fact-checking, nonexistent argumentation, guilt by association, those are the tools in arr’s box.

Also, I think he missed a trick by not pointing out that as well as Exile and Sadie going over to the fash as individuals, there was a concerted effort made by some of their friends, including an article in Black Seed, to defend them and discredit their critics as being witch-hunting moralists. The "Field Guide to Straw Men" article, imo, does a very good job at establishing the fact that there definitely are some people in the post-left scene, just as in many other spaces, who definitely are willing to turn a blind eye to this shit.

Finally, I guess that the publication date being last spring means that it predates most of the controversy over the ITS/GITS/Wild Reactionaries, but the whole Atassa/LBC drama shows that there are definitely some post-left nihilist types who have no standards whatsoever, even if the Wild Reactionaries aren't quite coherent enough to be called fascists. If anyone doesn't know what I'm on about, "Of Indiscriminate Attacks & Wild Reactions" is long but it absolutely annihilates the Atassa/LBC crowd.

Agent of the I…

6 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Agent of the I… on June 14, 2018

R Totale

If anyone doesn't know what I'm on about, "Of Indiscriminate Attacks & Wild Reactions" is long but it absolutely annihilates the Atassa/LBC crowd.

I honestly could not read through that whole piece. I'm sure the author does some "annihilating", but the text itself is pretty dense, and is revealing of the author's clique ness, as well as contempt for what they perceive as left or social anarchists.

As for ARR; while there is definitely a level of irresponsibility on his part, what's telling about his approach to exposing fascist entry-ism, is that he seems to actually believe that these fascist tendencies are indeed 'syncretic', a word he uses a good number of times in his work. "Anarcho" or "syndicalist" fascists/nationalists like to present themselves as having successfully combined Left and Right ideas, or having transcended the dichotomous Left-Right political spectrum. Afaik, they are the only ones who describe their pet ideologies as 'syncretic', as a way of signifying their so called theoretical accomplishment. I think he misses the distinction between the content of these types - which is straight up fascist - and how they would like to present themselves.

Following from this, I think he presses too hard on trying to establish a bridge, which exists on an intellectual plane, between Left and Right, in a way which might prevent him from being able to appreciate the finer details.

R Totale

6 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by R Totale on June 14, 2018

Agent of the International

I honestly could not read through that whole piece. I'm sure the author does some "annihilating", but the text itself is pretty dense, and is revealing of the author's clique ness, as well as contempt for what they perceive as left or social anarchists.

Hah, fair enough. That text is definitely one where I kind of think that it's good, but the author certainly wouldn't have much time for me. But the fact that the author is so firmly in the anti-civ/nihilist/whatever camp is part of what makes it interesting to me - like "class struggle anarchist says anti-civilisation nihilist anarchists are acting like dangerous idiots" isn't really news, "anti-civilisation nilihist anarchist says anti-civilisation nihilist anarchists are acting like dangerous idiots" is kind of more notable, if you know what I mean? But anyway, thinking about it I probably should've recommended these two much shorter pieces as starting points for anyone who's not encountered the ITS controversy before:
There’s Nothing Anarchist about Eco-Fascism: A Condemnation of ITS
Not Our Comrades: ITS Attacks on Anarchists

As for ARR; while there is definitely a level of irresponsibility on his part, what's telling about his approach to exposing fascist entry-ism, is that he seems to actually believe that these fascist tendencies are indeed 'syncretic', a word he uses a good number of times in his work. "Anarcho" or "syndicalist" fascists/nationalists like to present themselves as having successfully combined Left and Right ideas, or having transcended the dichotomous Left-Right political spectrum. Afaik, they are the only ones who describe their pet ideologies as 'syncretic', as a way of signifying their so called theoretical accomplishment. I think he misses the distinction between the content of these types - which is straight up fascist - and how they would like to present themselves.

Following from this, I think he presses too hard on trying to establish a bridge, which exists on an intellectual plane, between Left and Right, in a way which might prevent him from being able to appreciate the finer details.

Hah, your critique of ARR is much more well-thought-out and intellectual than mine, I'd not really gone much further than "this guy feels like a kind of sloppy writer who has some tendencies towards sensationalism".
Oh, and we've also established that, as well as fascists themselves, people who've copied and pasted bits written by fascists from their wikipedia pages will also tend to describe them as syncretic, but that's a whole other story.

R Totale

5 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by R Totale on August 15, 2018

Not actually new, but new to me: another critique of ITS highlighting exactly how weird the conclusions the "eco-extremists" have arrived at are.

And it is that several blogs that were participating in one way or another in the dissemination of these criticisms (translating, sending, publishing), we started to receive ridiculous threats from these people, in which, in addition to revealing data relating to comrades (and compromising their security and that of those spaces), are also happy about the attacks of the Islamic State in large European cities as well as the death of one of our comrades, for example Heather Heyer, whose fatal attack at the hand of neo-Nazis during a counter-demonstration in Charlottesville a few weeks ago was celebrated by an email we received recently.

Then I’ll transcribe a fragment of one of the… intimidating(?) messages which I did get, as I find it especially revealing. I do not transcribe it in full because in the non-diffused part this gang of parapolice mouths give data about specific comrades, informing of where they collaborate or stop collaborating in their political action; to spread it, would compromise those people.

“(…) the anarchist humanists of the United States were trampled by the neo-Nazis (the two sides are both cocksuckers), the Islamic State finally hit Spain where you find yourself, son of a thousand whores!

While it is true, none of these events were perpetrated by eco-extremists, it is a sign of the savage curse that has fallen on you and your loved ones for defaming us. Fucking Atheist, care that the ancestral spirits get loose and they will torment you until your death!”

In the face of this, I can only burst out laughing, though bitterly. It does not stop me being curious that the person who sent me this crap (and whose e-mail, incidentally, is “[email protected]”), made from a Riseup account. Is Riseup not a server managed precisely by those American “humanist anarchists” who are compared to neo-Nazis and whose murder they celebrate so merrily? What happens, perhaps, your spirits and your wicked middle-class college witchcraft of savage rebellion does not allow you to develop your own server from which to communicate?

Red Marriott

5 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Red Marriott on August 19, 2018

R Totale

sloppy fact-checking, nonexistent argumentation, guilt by association, those are the tools in arr’s box.

The truth of this can be seen from Page 1 of this thread; where A. Reid Ross & co's misuse of historical facts to attempt to distort the relations between historical anarchism, syndicalism & fascism are exposed by several posters. Fortunately, in the case of Shmidt, the indisputable facts and Schmidt's later admissions were plentiful enough to override ARR's association with the original exposure of Schmidt.

syndicalist

5 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by syndicalist on January 13, 2019

What does ITS mean?

R Totale

5 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by R Totale on January 13, 2019

ITS = Individuals Tending towards the Wild (Individualidades Tendiendo a lo Salvaje), started out as a kind of anarcho-primitivist group in Mexico but went further and further into extreme misanthropic reactionary positions, so they did stuff like claim the murder of a woman, celebrate the fascist killing of Heather Heyer, claim responsibility for bomb attacks on anarchist spaces and so on. Meanwhile Little Black Cart, one of the main US post-left/individualist "anarchist" publishers still sells a magazine essentially glorifying them (which is why I'm posting about them on here, since a little way upthread someone posted an Alexander Reid Ross article about fascism and the post-left). Not much to do with anarcho-syndicalism as such, other than Alexander Reid Ross writing about them both.
As mentioned above, I'd recommend There’s Nothing Anarchist about Eco-Fascism and Not Our Comrades: ITS Attacks on Anarchists as the best shortish introductions to the whole mess.

syndicalist

5 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by syndicalist on January 14, 2019

Thanks

Black Badger

5 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Black Badger on January 14, 2019

ARR is over-reaching in his alarmist hunt for fash among the post-left crowd. the single citation for his dismissive smear against post-left anarchists sliding into fascism is the website Anarchy 101, a free-for-all open forum for basic questions that is often inactive for months; it's not exactly a think tank for post-left discussions.

and didn't anyone ever let you know how authoritarian and demeaning -- and in this case, sectarian -- it is to use quotation marks to indicate irony? a writer much more intelligent than either of us had this to say:

Quotation mark should be used only when something is quoted and if need be when the text wants to distance itself from a word it is referring to. They are to be rejected as an ironic device. For they exempt the writer from the spirit whose claim is inherent in irony, and they violate the very concept of irony by separating it from the matter at hand and presenting a predetermined judgment on the subject.

R Totale

3 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by R Totale on August 1, 2020

Since this is the closest thing going to a general third position/anarchists-turned-fash thread, might as well leave these here: https://www.unoffensiveanimal.is/unoffensive-reports/walter-bond-and-his-eco-fascist-trajectory/ https://anarchistsworldwide.noblogs.org/post/2020/07/27/ua-goodbye-walter-bond/