Dear Mr. Anarchist, You Aren’t Listening

Decolonize
Decolonize

A reply to "Dear Cheerleaders, we need to have a chat about imperialism" about libertarian communist dialogue and criticism in regards to the Rojava revolution and anti-imperialism.

Submitted by Flint on April 9, 2015

09 April 2015

by Stefan Bertram-Lee for Kurdish Question*

Since the West noticed the existence of the Rojava Revolution during the heroic defence of Kobane in September 2014 (though of course the process of Social Revolution in Rojava entered its present phase after they asserted their autonomy in 2012) there has been article after article denouncing and rejecting the Revolution put out by various Western Far Leftists. From the infamous ‘Anarchist Federation Statement on Rojava - December 2014’ to the latest ‘Dear Cheerleaders, we need to have a chat about imperialism’, these articles have common themes. The most disgustingly colonialist of these ideas is the one that the Rojava Revolution is pantomime, but the notions surrounding the ‘class nature’ of Rojava, and the alliance between the USA and the Democratic Union Party (PYD), are also worth discussing.

Each time I see another author, one that is supposed to be a fellow ‘Anarchist’, (For whatever that is worth) giving the slightest credence to the idea that the Rojava Revolution is all an act put on for Western Leftists I am shocked, for I have heard few ideas that are more absurd. This idea is made explicit in the ‘Anarchist Federation Statement on Rojava - December 2014’, which states that the PYD ‘initiated an intensive marketing campaign by the PKK towards Western leftists and anarchists in order to look for support and allies.’[1] While not so obvious in ‘Dear Cheerleaders, we need to have a chat about imperialism’, it can clearly be seen in the author’s doubts about the eyewitness accounts of Janet Biehl and David Graeber, the author being unclear on whether he believes them to be good naturedly hoodwinked by the PYD, or if they are in on this grand conspiracy to trick the Western Leftist.[2] The idea that a Social Revolution that stretches across the northern half of Syria, that encompasses hundreds of thousands of people and has driven back the horrifying patriarchal force that is Da'esh (ISIS) is nothing but a play is simply something I cannot wrap my head around, but what is more unbelievable is the intended audience of the supposed play.

These critics seem to believe that the PYD looked out at our world knowing it would need support in the post-USSR world, where Marxist-Leninism didn’t cut it anymore, and that they were willing to pretend to be whatever would get the most support. They saw a world dominated by the network of Western Financial Neo-Liberalism, where all dissent against capitalism is ruthlessly and viciously put down, where the left have been forced so far back we are failing to defend the gains that were made 70 or more years ago. The PYD looked out at this world, and decided the best ideology to imitate would be that of an obscure American Left-Libertarian theorist, who by the end of his life had even rejected Anarchism, and was more or less ideologically isolated. What cold hearted cynic would choose this? To appeal to the broken remnants of the Western Anarchist Movement, a pale shadow of what it once was, weighed down and trapped by its history, having won no victories since the breakdown of the Anti-Globalisation movement a decade ago. Why would they not choose to pretend to be Western Liberals? We do not even have to imagine where it would have got them; we can simply see it in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). A client of the USA and Turkey, they have received all the help they could ask for, when the PYD begged for heavy weapons the KRG received them, and they have been the focus of the USA’s bombing campaign throughout. It should be obvious that the PYD did not choose the path of least resistance; they chose a principled ideological path that has only made life harder for them.

But we should be clear on another point. If their ideology really was a ‘marketing campaign’, then it was an abject failure. The critics of the Rojava Revolution are keen to emphasise that what is happening there is nothing at all like what was happening in some places in Spain during the Spanish Civil War, and in some ways I agree with them. The Social Revolution in Spain had the backing of tens of thousands of foreign volunteers, the Rojava revolution does not. There is no massive wave of international volunteers; there is no mass outflow of arms or money or food, or really anything at all. If the impotency of the Western Left to provide substantive help to a foreign revolution was not clear before it should be now. I would make clear here that I mean no disrespect to all those in the West who are doing what they can for Rojava, and those like Ivana Hoffmann who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the revolution. But if we look to those few volunteers who have gone to Rojava (A fraction of the number who went to Spain) we can see that the majority of them are not leftists, and of those who are even fewer are Anarchists. Many, like Ivana Hoffmann, are Marxist-Leninists, and if the PYD are as cynical as their critics believe perhaps they would have been better off sticking to their old ideology. It is clear that despite the heroic actions of a few, and support from others, the Western Left has not made a substantive difference to the situation in Rojava.

The criticism of the Rojava revolution as pretence while the most egregiously wrong, is not the only criticism. It is also attacked on the basis of not being a real ‘Proletarian Revolution’. This has been one that has been present since the very start. I remember being at the London Anarchist Bookfair in October 2014, Rojava was just exploding into the popular consciousness as the siege of Kobane kicked off. We all knew very little, but all wanted more. We all dutifully crowded into a too small room to be told of what was happening there. The speaker took questions afterwards and one of them asked ‘Who owns the Means of Production?’ The speaker did not understand the question. He tried again asking ‘What happened to the bourgeoisie?’ But the speaker did not understand.

Partly this was due to the speaker not speaking English natively, but it also showed a disconnect. The social reality of the Kurds, (And the history it is constructed from) is decidedly different to that of those who have grown up in the west, and so their perception of what a revolution is (and so what their revolution was) is very different. To a western Anarchist who first crossed blades with his oppressor during the Anti-Globalisation movement the idea of a free territory asking for foreign investment stinks of nothing less than counter-revolution, but our experience is not the experience of all. This is not to say that the limits to the economic revolution in Rojava do not worry me, much of the success of the mutualisation of the economy comes from the fact that many of the most powerful elements of the bourgeoisie fled. This installs a fear that in a real confrontation with capital the PYD may retreat.

But on what basis is this to dismiss the Rojava revolution? It is only such if you believe that the relationships of capital are the prime and only factor determining the success of a revolution. We can hope that the foreign investment that the PYD wishes for will be held to a stringent system of public consultation as are done in the Zapatista Territories. (A Zapatista community recently got running water 20 years after the revolution, when a western charity said it would be done in a few months back in 1994 if they were given free reign. But if that is the price of dignity, so be it.) But even if the PYD betrayed the revolution of the Rojava people by bending to the forces of capital, then the Rojava revolution would still be a success. This is because what has occurred in Rojava is a women’s revolution, one I believe to be the best developed in the history of our civilisation.

The Women’s Revolution goes far deeper than the ‘representation’ and ‘pretty women with guns and European features’ so many, even on the left, focus on. In Rojava any decision made by the popular assemblies can be overturned by the women’s assemblies. As what is most vital here is not that the women can overturn decisions, but that they can choose which decisions are their business. This is the final overthrow of a patriarchal system, which assigns women a sphere and presumes itself non-meddlesome when it fights any attempt to reach beyond that sphere. Finally we can choose what is ours, not have to appeal to someone who does not understand our reality to grant it to us.

The critics of Rojava pass doubt on how much power these committees have, or will have if the PYD choose to crackdown on them, but I believe the unique structure of the Rojava Revolution makes such a situation unlikely. In the EZLN you have an army which is partially formed of women, while in the YPJ you have a women’s army. In Rojava (and throughout all parts of Kurdistan where the Kurdistan Communities Union, KCK is influential) women have self-organised into a system of parallel structures, for every aspect of men’s organisation (as what any organisation of mix gender is under a system of men’s domination) there is a women’s one. As we know only organisations belonging to people themselves can ensure their own liberation, in this sense men’s organisations cannot liberate women. So in Kurdistan women are presented with a unique opportunity to liberate themselves, the tools to defend and push forward our liberation with the help of no one but our fellow women are there. The women of the Spanish revolution were predominantly disarmed and their revolution overturned by the end of the war, if the men of Kurdistan ever wish to do the same then I wish them the best of luck, for they will face an enemy far more organised and fierce than they have ever faced before.

The final aspects the committed western ‘Anti-Imperialist’ objects to about the Rojava Revolution is the PYD’s cooperation with the United States. This is something that is undoubtedly true; the PYD has received air support and some minor amounts of arms from the United States, this is something that any supporter of the Rojava Revolution should have no interest in denying. The author of ‘Dear Cheerleaders, we need to have a chat about imperialism’ objects to this on the basis that this has made the Autonomous Territories in Rojava ‘dependent’ on US aid for their survival, and by engaging with open cooperation with the United States they have made themselves a pawn in a relationship the United States will inevitably dominate. The first thing we must do is cast out of our minds entirely the notion that any form of cooperation with the United States is inherently negative. If the United States military asked if I could spot for them in order to kill soldiers of a reactionary force engaged in active combat with my comrades, I would do it. If the United States offered to supply me with arms so I could combat a reactionary force, I would do it. I would hope any Anarchist would, as to do anything else is to put purity above good sense.

The second idea that must be attacked is that the United States airstrikes were the deciding factor in the Siege of Kobane ‘’now that Kobane is saved from IS, in large part by US air attacks’’, says Peter Storm. This is simply not true. As the United States has found, a war cannot be won by airstrikes. Undoubtedly the airstrikes were helpful, but to act as if without them Kobane would have fallen is nothing but Colonialist logic. It ignores all the victories that the YPG/YPJ and other guerrilla forces associated with the KCK have accomplished without the slightest amount of help. Would Mr. Storm also claim that the relief of Shingal came because of US airstrikes? Or would he recognise it came from the heroic actions of the KCK fighters, who the US instantly erased the role of in the siege? To claim that the United States’ airstrikes are so important is nothing but a reproduction of colonialist hegemony where western forces can do as they will in the rest of the world, and win every time.

Storm callously and with only the slightest historical knowledge goes onto speak of the Spanish genocide of the Americas. If he knew the slightest thing about history he would know that it was not a few hundred conquistadores that conquered the civilisations of what is now ‘Latin America’ but rather a century’s long genocidal war with the full power of European Civilisation behind it combined with the Europeans being resistant to highly infectious diseases the indigenous did not. But this is beyond the point, what Storm is attempting to claim is that cooperation with an Imperial power inevitably leads to the destruction of the lesser power, but he gives the perfect counter example to this in his own text, the Mujahedeen. The Mujahedeen, or as those are now billed by the west, the Taliban, have successfully resisted Imperialist forces since the 80s. (Unfortunately to defend a regime that is even more reactionary than our own.) First armed and funded by the United States in order to resist Soviet invasion, the United States turned their back on them during the start of its ‘War on Terror’. The US’s coalition was able to evict them from government, but never remove from their rural strongholds, and once the US forces finally withdraw they will in all likelihood return to government (and start cooperating with the US, of course). So why could the Kurds not do the same to any US invasion? Only the mind of a Western Anarchist imagines victory as impossible. We do not learn from our defeats, simply imagining that defeat is inevitable, for us and all others, something readily encouraged by the hegemonic forces around us.

So it is clear that the Rojava revolution does not need the permission of Western Anarchists to be able to succeed, it does not need us one way or the other. Whether myself and people like Janet Biehl, David Graeber and Petar Stanchev ‘win’ this argument or whether people like Afed and Peter Storm do, does not really matter for the Rojava revolution, we are simply too few. The only people this argument is important for is ourselves. In the west we have failed, while in Chiapas and Rojava a social revolution has occurred. We need to examine our tactics and our methods, and compare them to the PYD and EZLN, and see where we have gone wrong and where they have gone right. We cannot win by fighting as if the territory we are fighting on is the United States prior to WWI, or Spain prior to WWII, the same old tired Anarcho-Syndicalism will not win in the 21st Century. Subcomdanate Marcos says that when he first went to Chiapas all he could do was talk, and not listen, and so he failed. The peasants did not listen to those who could only talk. It is only when he learnt to listen that he was able to move forward, and this lesson is one that must be learnt by all Western Anarchists. We are not winning, and we need to listen to those who are.

[1] http://www.afed.org.uk/blog/international/435-anarchist-federation-statement-on-rojava-december-2014.html

[2] http://libcom.org/blog/dear-cheerleaders-we-need-have-chat-about-imperialism-04042015

* Stefan Bertram-Lee is a Second Year Undergraduate at the University of Essex and is President of the Zapatista Solidarity Group Essex.

(The Kurdish Question)

Comments

Serge Forward

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Serge Forward on April 9, 2015

Wow... has Stefan got enough straw men in there? Could do with a couple more thrown in for good measure. Ironically, for those of us who don't buy into the whole left communist/ICC stylee critiques yet still have their critical faculties switched on, then this sort of mard arse whining about those who lack the same blind faith doesn't really get us anywhere.

Devrim

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Devrim on April 9, 2015

This is the worst anarchist article I've seen on this issue, which certainly takes some doing.

Devrim

Black Badger

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Black Badger on April 9, 2015

* Stefan Bertram-Lee is a Second Year Undergraduate at the University of Essex and is President of the Zapatista Solidarity Group Essex.

Not trying to be too much of a dick, but really this is all you need to know in order to figure out what the content of his rant will be. Barely out of his teens, living in the rarified world of undergraduate know-it-alls, and not yet alive (or barely an infant) when the EZLN burst onto the international stage... he clearly missed all the relevant contemporary discourse on the relationship of the EZLN to anarchism, the various ways anarchists showed/lived their solidarity, and came to (perhaps) a slightly better understanding of how international solidarity works -- or doesn't.

One of the more important issues -- apparently not internalized by too many who declare themselves to be principled anarchists and/or anti-statists -- is how solidarity has to be justified by the (false) imputation of an ideological adherence of oppressed people and their defensive (sometimes armed) formations to the ideology of the ones offering said solidarity. What happens is that the un- or non-radical aspects of the oppressed group's formations/projects get ignored or dismissed as irrelevant, while the one or two practices that resemble "direct democracy" or some other horizontal or grassroots form of decision making, perhaps even accompanied by some kind of cooperative and/or non-exploitative economy are labeled "anarchist" or "communist" despite the self-understanding of the people engaged in those projects (that's called ideological colonialism by the way).

The point is that expressing and engaging in international solidarity with/toward oppressed people who are fighting against their oppressors doesn't require any particular justification from radicals -- but especially not with false imputations. If you want to support the EZLN, fine, but don't tell me I have to as well because the EZLN is anarchist. If you want to support what certain Kurds are doing, fine, but don't dare to tell me I have to as well because what's happening in Rojava is just like what was happening in Barcelona in 1936. Support whomever you choose, using whatever justifications you choose, but please don't expect some of us not to be annoyed when you make your solidarity into an condition of a principled adherence to anarchism.

Serge Forward

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Serge Forward on April 9, 2015

Stefan Bertram-Lee is a Second Year Undergraduate at the University of Essex

That's an 'F' from me then.

rat

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by rat on April 9, 2015

Stefan Bertram-Lee:

The Mujahedeen, or as those are now billed by the west, the Taliban, have successfully resisted Imperialist forces since the 80s. (Unfortunately to defend a regime that is even more reactionary than our own.) First armed and funded by the United States in order to resist Soviet invasion, the United States turned their back on them during the start of its ‘War on Terror’.

Just terrible.

JoeMaguire

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by JoeMaguire on April 9, 2015

But on what basis is this to dismiss the Rojava revolution? It is only such if you believe that the relationships of capital are the prime and only factor determining the success of a revolution. We can hope that the foreign investment that the PYD wishes for will be held to a stringent system of public consultation

Eh? Totally failure to understand markets, or the political sway of the ruling class. This is pure reformism. As it seems to advocate state capitalism. As though holding my, or any ruling class to account through "a stringent system of public consultation" is sufficient.

This is because what has occurred in Rojava is a women’s revolution, one I believe to be the best developed in the history of our civilisation.

The Women’s Revolution goes far deeper than the ‘representation’ and ‘pretty women with guns and European features’ so many, even on the left, focus on. In Rojava any decision made by the popular assemblies can be overturned by the women’s assemblies. As what is most vital here is not that the women can overturn decisions, but that they can choose which decisions are their business. This is the final overthrow of a patriarchal system, which assigns women a sphere and presumes itself non-meddlesome when it fights any attempt to reach beyond that sphere. Finally we can choose what is ours, not have to appeal to someone who does not understand our reality to grant it to us.

I think this is at the core of the piece. It's a product of the intersectional left.

ocelot

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on April 9, 2015

JoeMaguire

This is because what has occurred in Rojava is a women’s revolution, one I believe to be the best developed in the history of our civilisation.

The Women’s Revolution goes far deeper than the ‘representation’ and ‘pretty women with guns and European features’ so many, even on the left, focus on. In Rojava any decision made by the popular assemblies can be overturned by the women’s assemblies. As what is most vital here is not that the women can overturn decisions, but that they can choose which decisions are their business. This is the final overthrow of a patriarchal system, which assigns women a sphere and presumes itself non-meddlesome when it fights any attempt to reach beyond that sphere. Finally we can choose what is ours, not have to appeal to someone who does not understand our reality to grant it to us.

I think this is at the core of the piece. It's a product of the intersectional left.

Ah. The boogeywoman, Now all is clear.

Both lazy and ignorant.

mikail firtinaci

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by mikail firtinaci on April 10, 2015

I remember being at the London Anarchist Bookfair in October 2014, Rojava was just exploding into the popular consciousness as the siege of Kobane kicked off. We all knew very little, but all wanted more. We all dutifully crowded into a too small room to be told of what was happening there. The speaker took questions afterwards and one of them asked ‘Who owns the Means of Production?’ The speaker did not understand the question. He tried again asking ‘What happened to the bourgeoisie?’ But the speaker did not understand.

Partly this was due to the speaker not speaking English natively, but it also showed a disconnect. The social reality of the Kurds, (And the history it is constructed from) is decidedly different to that of those who have grown up in the west, and so their perception of what a revolution is (and so what their revolution was) is very different.

But on what basis is this to dismiss the Rojava revolution? It is only such if you believe that the relationships of capital are the prime and only factor determining the success of a revolution.

I hope this essay and above quotes does not show the average intellectual depth of the pro-PKK political milieu in the West. Beacuse ff this is the case than it means all hope of a meaningful discussion is lost.

In its support for cross-class alliances this essay even comes on the verge of appropriating this romantic racist Hollywood image of noble innocent savages fighting for their classless native communities. This is an incredibly ignorant view if not proto-fascistic. Kurds are probably one of the first ethnic groups on earth that are divided into classes. This region has a very complex and advanced history of cultural differentiation and social dynamism. For instance feudalism has probably a history in Kurdistan as old as, if not older, than its Western European version. Further, mercantile relations developed in Kurdish regions very early historically giving birth to an extremely complex social structure that continued to evolve for centuries.

Even suggesting that Kurds somehow did not "experience" class exploitation and class oppression is sheer nonsense. Kurdish workers today are not only violently exploited by capitalism in Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria but they are also extremely combative. In fact, one could even argue that even the Turkish left would be long dead if it could not exploit the insurgent spirit of our Kurdish worker brethren.

Obviously this cheerleader mentality is ready to sacrifice and ignore the torments of the Kurdish proletarians for the sake of an anti-intellectual activism without any sympathy for the real human suffering in Syria and Iraq. Unbelievable...

rooieravotr

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by rooieravotr on April 10, 2015

The Social Revolution in Spain had the backing of tens of thousands of foreign volunteers,

He means the International Brigades, sent under Stalinist auspices to save the Republican government which by then was already persecuting anarchists and independent marxists and suffocating the revolution, helped in this practice by GPOE agents? That is the example he wishes us to emulate? One shivers.

bastarx

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by bastarx on April 10, 2015

The author of that Dear Anarchist nonsense is also at the University of Essex. Sounds like an awesome crew they have there.

*bastarx is a graduate of a university but was too lazy to pursue a professional career so is now employed in a blue collar public sector job and has been a smartarse on libcom for 9 years now.

Fall Back

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Fall Back on April 10, 2015

JoeMaguire

I think this is at the core of the piece. It's a product of the intersectional left.

Awful article - probably thing written about Rojava I've read so far, amidst stuff competition - but this is possibly the single stupidest comment I've ever read on libcom.

Kureigo-San

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Kureigo-San on April 10, 2015

You know, one very amusing comparison between Rojava and Spain that I haven't seen yet is that during the Spanish revolution, they didn't feel the need to obsessively refer to it as such the way we see with The Rojava Revolution™.

Spikymike

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Spikymike on April 10, 2015

I meant to say on one of the other related threads that we should bear in mind that the reflections of the likes of radical academics such as Biel and Graeber on their visits to Rojava that both went there we some very strong preconceived ideas rooted in ideologies that predisposed them to looking for proof of the correctness of said ideolgies and unsurpsingly found them (at least to their satisfaction if not all of ours).

ocelot

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on April 10, 2015

Kureigo-San

You know, one very amusing comparison between Rojava and Spain that I haven't seen yet is that during the Spanish revolution, they didn't feel the need to obsessively refer to it as such the way we see with The Rojava Revolution™.

er...

my godfather's old man was a CNT printer in Girona and moved to Barcelona after the July ;36 uprising to print newspapers and posters for the CNT. Like the above. The word "revolution" made more than one appearance as any perusal of the propaganda of the time will show (try google images).

Would have been a good gag, otherwise.

Chilli Sauce

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 10, 2015

Yeah, this article is laughably piss-poor. I mean, it's just strawmans. Has anyone argued that Rojava is just a show being put on for liberals? And as if the anti-globalization movement was some great high point of anarchism... Just so much of the article is painfully activisty.

Like I said on another thread, it's great to feel like we're winning, but this article in particular is full of either willful ignorance or an impressiveness level of cognitive dissonance.

Mikhail

Kurds are probably one of the first ethnic groups on earth that are divided into classes.

I did want to ask about this. My understanding is that Kurdish as a distinct ethnicity or "nationality" is a pretty modern construct, maybe only a 100 years or so. I am incorrect about that?

mikail firtinaci

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by mikail firtinaci on April 10, 2015

Chilli Sauce

Mikhail

Kurds are probably one of the first ethnic groups on earth that are divided into classes.

I did want to ask about this. My understanding is that Kurdish as a distinct ethnicity or "nationality" is a pretty modern construct, maybe only a 100 years or so. I am incorrect about that?

The roots of Kurdish nationalism dates back to the 19th century. It emerged earlier than Turkish nationalism. However, in this earlier form it was mostly under the control of feudal lords that sought independence/autonomy from the Ottoman empire.

My knowledge about this period comes mostly from Martin van Bruinessen's books.

Soapy

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Soapy on April 10, 2015

lol David Graeber keeps calling us losers on twitter. Ooo but David Graeber taught at Yale, he's a winner! We're just fucking losers everyone.

Flint

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 10, 2015

Chilli Sauce

Mikhail

Kurds are probably one of the first ethnic groups on earth that are divided into classes.

I did want to ask about this. My understanding is that Kurdish as a distinct ethnicity or "nationality" is a pretty modern construct, maybe only a 100 years or so. I am incorrect about that?

"However, in the High Middle Ages, the Kurdish ethnic identity gradually materialized, as one can find clear evidence of the Kurdish ethnic identity and solidarity in texts of the 12th and 13th century"
Wikipedia: Kurds

Yazidis date back to the 12th century. Wikipedia: Yazidi: Origins

Mikhail is probably speculating on the origins of agriculture with Wheat originating ild einkorn wheat suggests that it was first grown in the Karacadag Mountains
Wikipedia: Wheat: Origin, Wikipedia: Karaca Dağ
Karaca Dağ is just outside of Diyarbakir, which is regarded as the "Kurdish capitol" of Bakurê (Northern Kurdistan). Its also definitely where the KCK draws a lot of its strength and popularity.

Mikhail, being a proper sort of historical materialist determinist sees the origin of wheat and thus declares that the change in material production of food is directly related to class stratification. Çatalhöyük be damned!

Ofcourse, arguing that folks who are Kurds today are the direct descendants of the people who first cultivated wheat is speculation. But Kurds were living there long before Turks migrated to Anatolia. Kurds have been subject to class stratification as long as most other peoples in the area.

Its all interesting speculation for archaeology and linguistics, but I don't think its all that important for evaluating whether there is workers control in regards to TEVDEM in Rojava. People ought to be able to speak the language they know and like and have the cultural practices they know and like regardless of how ancient those languages and practices are. People shouldn't be oppressed by nation-states because they don't match the national identity the nation-state is homogenizing.

bastarx

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by bastarx on April 10, 2015

Did any ethnic identity as we understand identities exist in the middle ages? I thought that like nations and nationalism they were largely a product of capitalism.

Flint

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 10, 2015

bastarx

Did any ethnic identity as we understand identities exist in the middle ages? I thought that like nations and nationalism they were largely a product of capitalism.

You'll have to define what you mean by nations and nationalism. People have been speaking some variety of Kurdish for a long time in the area. People have had ethnic identities for a long time, which also gets mixed up with religious and cultural practices. The Nation-State as homogenizing force with irrendentism as a the basis of the state is a 19th century idea; which makes the question "Kurdish as a distinct ethnicity or "nationality" is a pretty modern construct, maybe only a 100 years or so." redundant. If nationalism can't exist before the 19th century, then Kurdish nationalism can't be any older than that. But for a long time, people have preferred to have leaders or rulers of similar culture to their own. How long have the English been going on about the bloody Norman yoke, sine 1066 or so.

mikail firtinaci

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by mikail firtinaci on April 10, 2015

bastarx

Did any ethnic identity as we understand identities exist in the middle ages? I thought that like nations and nationalism they were largely a product of capitalism.

That is a good point and I think I was not very clear. I should have written as the region (Middle East generally) instead of Kurds. The Kurdish ethnic identity is definitely formed, (along with Armenian, Arabic, Iranian and Turkish) in the 19th century in the middle east.

Yes people talked in Kurdish but that does not mean that being Kurd was an element of self-identification suggesting a national reference. In fact, tribal and religious ties were hegemonic forms that defined community ties. In fact, throughout the middle ages Turkic tribes had Kurdish notables or chiefs and Kurdish clans had Turkish notables through marriages. This affected the language and customs. So there are turkic clans today who considers themselves Kurds and speak Kurdish and Kurdish clans who considers themselves Turk and hence speak Turkish.

mikail firtinaci

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by mikail firtinaci on April 10, 2015

Flint

Mikhail is probably speculating on the origins of agriculture with Wheat originating ild einkorn wheat suggests that it was first grown in the Karacadag Mountains

Mikhail, being a proper sort of historical materialist determinist sees the origin of wheat and thus declares that the change in material production of food is directly related to class stratification. Çatalhöyük be damned!

Flint, whatever you are smoking I want the same. Please help me get in touch with your dealer.

Flint

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 10, 2015

mikail firtinaci

Flint, whatever you are smoking I want the same. Please help me get in touch with your dealer.

Explain what you mean by "Kurds are probably one of the first ethnic groups on earth that are divided into classes." then.

mikail firtinaci

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by mikail firtinaci on April 10, 2015

Flint

mikail firtinaci

Flint, whatever you are smoking I want the same. Please help me get in touch with your dealer.

Explain what you mean by "Kurds are probably one of the first ethnic groups on earth that are divided into classes." then.

See the above post

ocelot

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on April 10, 2015

bastarx

Did any ethnic identity as we understand identities exist in the middle ages? I thought that like nations and nationalism they were largely a product of capitalism.

Well as already mentioned, nationalism and hence nationality as we understand it today is a legacy of the French Revolution. However it didn't appear out of thin air all at once.

In the middle ages the Ottoman empire had its Millet system. Whereby confessional "castes", especially non-Muslim ones (Armenian and Syriac Christians, Jews, etc) were subject not only to Jizya, but also barred from certain professions, had to wear certain items of dress or other identifying markers etc. Whether that counts as what we understand as ethnicity today, certainly the Greek-speaking Orthodox Christians of Ottoman Constantinople and Smyrna would have self-identified as "Greeks" for sure.

edit: and tribalism, albeit in various evolutions and adaptations, has been around like, forever. And "ethnos" etymologically stems from the Greek for "company or people, heathens", which is pretty much how tribespeople have always been viewed, so...

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 10, 2015

May I politely ask each person who (1) responded to this article with ire and derision (including immature and spiteful quips about the author's age) and (2) continue to hold that what's happening in Rojava holds no potential for building libertarian socialism, what exactly are you doing at the moment that's so much more revolutionary than what the Kurds and co. are doing?

I'm sure most of you have 9-5 jobs, families, and other commitments where you are, and so are not exactly in a position to materially help out a social revolution going on several thousand miles away. Or at least not in person. But to not even be willing to lend support to people trying to construct organs of participatory democracy and self-managed socialism? It just doesn't make sense to me.

I see a lot of comments here claiming that the author is attacking strawmen in his analysis of the workerist anarchist position, but then what is the real position of which said strawmen are a caricature? Thus far I've seen tonnes of criticising - "it's not class based" "they're nationalists" "the US bombed the people trying to kill them, therefore they're helping imperialism" - but very little in the way of constructive proposals for what the people (or "class") or Kurdistan ought to do if they did want to build libertarian socialism; other than vague declarations of them needing "class solidarity" and "class consciousness". Yes, yes, but what exactly is that supposed to mean in practice?

If it means they need to ditch Bookchin and adopt Marx, they already tried Marxism-Leninism once and that proved a disaster. After the poor taste that ideology left in people's mouths I doubt they'd be very open to taking on board anything with "Marx" in the name. As for anarcho-syndicalism, it had its heyday but most of its old theory is no longer relevant to digitised society in the Global North, nor to mostly agrarian societies like Kurdistan.

So what, concretely speaking, have workerists - Marxist and anarchist alike - got to offer to global struggles today other than reformist workplace organising and claiming it's the most revolutionary thing of all because it's got the right class analysis?

Devrim

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Devrim on April 10, 2015

Flint

mikail firtinaci

Flint, whatever you are smoking I want the same. Please help me get in touch with your dealer.

Explain what you mean by "Kurds are probably one of the first ethnic groups on earth that are divided into classes." then.

It's pretty simple really. Civilisation, and thus class society first developed in Mesopotamia. Therefore the areas around Mesopotamia would obviously be amongst the first subjected to class society. Iran, being right next door, would have been one of those areas, and the Kurds, being an Iranian tribe would have been one of those groups.

There are theories, which identify the Kurds as the historical Medes, but they are contested.

Nevertheless, they almost certainly would have bee one of the first groups subjected to class society.

Devrim

Flint

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 10, 2015

Devrim

Nevertheless, they almost certainly would have bee one of the first groups subjected to class society

O.K. Not sure how that is relevant to anything today.

mikail firtinaci

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by mikail firtinaci on April 10, 2015

Thanks Devrim.

Khawaga

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on April 10, 2015

Flint

O.K. Not sure how that is relevant to anything today.

It's in relation to Connor Owens arguing that class basically does not exist in Kurdistan and that class struggle there is therefore pointless and other forms of struggle, such as nation and gender, is the basis of struggle and what drives it forward. So yeah, only relevant in the context of discussion about Rojava on libcom.

Agent of the I…

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Agent of the I… on April 10, 2015

Khawaga

Flint

O.K. Not sure how that is relevant to anything today.

It's in relation to Connor Owens arguing that class basically does not exist in Kurdistan and that class struggle there is therefore pointless and other forms of struggle, such as nation and gender, is the basis of struggle and what drives it forward. So yeah, only relevant in the context of discussion about Rojava on libcom.

Owens has made it pretty clear that class struggle is pointless everywhere, and that his "social ecology" is the universally prescribed strategy.

Khawaga

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on April 10, 2015

For sure, it's a big straw man he's been building--one of many.

Agent of the I…

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Agent of the I… on April 10, 2015

Where is Omen? Usually these threads end with an Omen comic.

Maybe that point hasn't been past yet? It felt like it did.

Khawaga

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on April 10, 2015

Omen, Omen, Omen... there's now he should come. You see, Omen is like Candyman...

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 10, 2015

Khawaga

It's in relation to Connor Owens arguing that class basically does not exist in Kurdistan and that class struggle there is therefore pointless and other forms of struggle, such as nation and gender, is the basis of struggle and what drives it forward

Yeah man. The big bad revolution will clearly be made by a bunch of burly male urban industrial workers. Only they, when fluent in all three volumes of Marx's Capital, will be able to do anything to transform society along libertarian socialist lines. Any deviation from this can never be anything but bourgeois liberal idealism.

Now, the above, as you're no doubt well aware, is an absurd caricature of a class struggle position.

So is the asinine description you gave in the quoted passage about my own position. Criticise my actual point of view if you want. Be my guest. Don't make up bullshit about arguing class doesn't exist and then claim I must believe in it.

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 10, 2015

I once talked to a 14 year old anarcho-capitalist whom I asked if he knew what anarchist-communism even was, as he was criticising it. He said (this is a copy-and-pasted quote) "yeah I do understand. Its a bunch of little commune collective type things full of dirty hippies where each one has its own farm and they all starve to death eventually because they have no price signals."

Moronic right? Well, hearing some of the astoundingly ignorant things written about Social Ecology both in this thread on on Peter Storm's last article sound remarkably similar to anyone who's done even a modicum of reading on the subject.

For those of you who don't act like wilfully ignorant pissbabies too lazy to do even the most basic research on someone else's philosophy, the perspective of Social Ecology on class struggle is that it is always important, only incomplete unless integrated with struggles against other trans-economic forms of domination.

Taking over workplaces is vital to socialist goals, as is creating self-managed enterprises. The traditional version of SE accepts Marxian class theory but expands it to include other forms of social hierarchy which aren't tied to economics.

Just as (most) forms of libertarian class struggle don't imagine revolution will be made by blue boiler suit wearing factory workers, Social Ecologists don't reject the importance of class and class analysis. They just reject workerism and the excessive veneration given to "the working class", which is in many respects an abstraction pasted on to real-world groups of people; who not only don't see themselves as being primarily defined by their economic function ("workers") but don't have the transformative potential Marx attributed to them.

Because organising primarily as workers in economic struggles can only express a particular interest.

Organising for directly-democratic communities - making localities into unified political-economic units administered through popular assemblies with municipally-owned enterprises - can express a more general interest.

And no, the creation of democratic communities does not include cross-class collaboration with capitalists or other parts of the ruling elite. Why this isn't already clear given how obvious it should be defies understanding.

Khawaga

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on April 10, 2015

I suggest you get your reading glasses on Mr. StrawMan. I was merely explaining to Flint why Mikhail, Devrim and others found it important to stress how kurds were among the first to likely experience class society. It's because of your simple-minded observation that class is not important at all in Rojava. You actually said this in one of the Rojava threads, but backpedalled as soon as it was pointed out to you how idiotic that statement was. If I actually was actually bothered about your arguments (I am not, they are all shit; I'll get my pro-Rojava arguments from Kurrem and Flint), I would've bothered to address you, but in this case my comment wasn't even directed at you.

And it is rather funny that you hurl such stupidity at me; if you'd bothered to read up on some of the earlier threads on Rojava you'd find that I am much more sympathetic to what is happening there than the people you are discussing with. I actually find there to be really promising and encouraging things going on in Rojava, despite the war, despite the PKK and the inter-imperialist great game. Indeed, because I am a jaded cynic, I find it much more likely that any communist project will start on the basis of a disaster or war or something like that than on the basis of a massive organizing effort by some working class organization (anarchist or not) in the West.

My advice to you Mr. Straw Man is the same advice I gave to Kurrem (several times): "the lady doth protest too much". With friends like you, no wonder Rojava gets bad press.

Pennoid

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Pennoid on April 10, 2015

Why do I imagine we all loved merry-go-rounds as children....

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 10, 2015

Khawaga

because of your simple-minded observation that class is not important at all in Rojava.

Quote me saying so. If you saw me make such a ridiculous assertion, it should be quite easy to simply open up a new tab, go back to that first thread, and reproduce it here to prove you weren't just making up complete bullshit and trying to claim it was representative of what I was saying.

If you can't/won't do so, you've effectively just outed yourself as a liar engaging in pretty pathetic slander an eight-year-old wouldn't be able to get away with.

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 10, 2015

From my very first comment on the Peter Storm Rojava article. What I said:

Any revolutionary movement(s) of the future is going to have to come to terms with the fact that we must organise on class as well as trans-class lines

What Khawaga claims I said:

because of your simple-minded observation that class is not important at all in Rojava. You actually said this in one of the Rojava threads, but backpedalled as soon as it was pointed out to you how idiotic that statement was

Conclusion: Khawaga is either a liar or can't read.

Khawaga

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on April 10, 2015

Hey, I can't be bothered re-reading your nonsense and straw-men Going to 100s of posts just for that: nah. And I am not the only one that noticed this, otherwise nobody would be bothered to start talking about Kurds likely being the first to experience class society..

To be honest, I prefer being labelled a liar and a pathetic 8-year old than having to read through your posts that mainly consists of abstract ideological positions, sophistry, straw men and yet more straw men.

You're doing Rojava a disservice by "discussing" like you do. Take a page our of Flint's book, even Kurrem; then maybe I will start taking what you write seriously.

JoeMaguire

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by JoeMaguire on April 10, 2015

Fall Back

JoeMaguire

I think this is at the core of the piece. It's a product of the intersectional left.

Awful article - probably thing written about Rojava I've read so far, amidst stuff competition - but this is possibly the single stupidest comment I've ever read on libcom.

It’s a stupid comment in the sense that the intersectionalism does have something relevant to say, but all ideas have their parody. What is interesting with some of the current crop of radicals coming out of university is that they have a definite line and praxis on gender equality and cultural appropriation, but are ubiquitous on what breaches capital, what defines socialism, what workers control might look like etc. And this emanates through here very strongly. I’m not sure how you would otherwise characterise this point and the influence these trends are having politically.

See this

But even if the PYD betrayed the revolution of the Rojava people by bending to the forces of capital, then the Rojava revolution would still be a success. This is because what has occurred in Rojava is a women’s revolution, one I believe to be the best developed in the history of our civilisation.

What the article does is counterposes questions about the ownership of the means of production with gender liberation, trumping the one with the other, which is clearly a false dichotomy. It’s a reversion into identity politics, which doesn’t seek to challenge the fragmentation imposed on us, as workers, against capital, organising through various struggles, but seeks to accept them uncritically albeit through a reformist and gender progressive prism of trying to control capital.

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 10, 2015

Khagawa

You're pitiful.

First you tried flat-out lying about what I said to someone else. That didn't work because I pointed out that what you said was untrue.
Then you tried lying some more, saying I had said one thing and then "backtracked". That didn't work because I asked you to quote my own words back to me. I posted my own comment here providing the evidence you refused to look up yourself because it proves your claim is fabricated.
Now you retreat to the most obnoxiously stupid tactic yet, absolutely pathetic insults combined with an open unwillingness to provide any evidence at all of your assertions, which even a person who believes your lies would attribute to laziness.

Anyone with two brain cells to rub together will hopefully now realise that nothing you say from here on can be taken at face value, either due to dishonesty or just stupidity. But I repeat myself, your dishonestly was itself tremendously stupid and not even well-disguised.

Black Badger

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Black Badger on April 11, 2015

Mixing metaphors is clearly a sign of being a petit-bourgeois counter-revolutionary.

bastarx

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by bastarx on April 11, 2015

JoeMaguire

It’s a stupid comment in the sense that the intersectionalism does have something relevant to say, but all ideas have their parody. What is interesting with some of the current crop of radicals coming out of university is that they have a definite line and praxis on gender equality and cultural appropriation, but are ubiquitous on what breaches capital, what defines socialism, what workers control might look like etc. And this emanates through here very strongly. I’m not sure how you would otherwise characterise this point and the influence these trends are having politically.

Ubiquitous doesn't mean what you think it means, it means everywhere. Did you mean opaque?

bastarx

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by bastarx on April 11, 2015

Connor Owens

Khagawa

You're pitiful.

First you tried flat-out lying about what I said to someone else. That didn't work because I pointed out that what you said was untrue.
Then you tried lying some more, saying I had said one thing and then "backtracked". That didn't work because I asked you to quote my own words back to me. I posted my own comment here providing the evidence you refused to look up yourself because it proves your claim is fabricated.
Now you retreat to the most obnoxiously stupid tactic yet, absolutely pathetic insults combined with an open unwillingness to provide any evidence at all of your assertions, which even a person who believes your lies would attribute to laziness.

Anyone with two brain cells to rub together will hopefully now realise that nothing you say from here on can be taken at face value, either due to dishonesty or just stupidity. But I repeat myself, your dishonestly was itself tremendously stupid and not even well-disguised.

Khawaga has been an intelligent commenter here for quite a few years now. You on the other hand are a recent arrival who showed up excitedly slaying strawmen about class and class struggle left, right and centre and thus blew any chance at credibility you had from the outset.

Flint

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 11, 2015

Connor Owens

First you tried flat-out lying about what I said to someone else. That didn't work because I pointed out that what you said was untrue.
Then you tried lying some more, saying I had said one thing and then "backtracked". That didn't work because I asked you to quote my own words back to me. I posted my own comment here providing the evidence you refused to look up yourself because it proves your claim is fabricated.
Now you retreat to the most obnoxiously stupid tactic yet, absolutely pathetic insults combined with an open unwillingness to provide any evidence at all of your assertions, which even a person who believes your lies would attribute to laziness..

Connor, this sort of rhetorical argument will never convince someone you are arguing with to change their opinion about something. It also isn't very convincing to an audience who at best care about the substance of the argument, not a tit-for-tat on who said what. It's like trying to win a parliamentary point according to Robert's Rules, but losing the actual proposal on the floor.

Here there should be a general assumption that people do actually want to achieve some kind of libertarian communism. There are differences of opinion about how to bring that about. There has to be a building towards agreement, shared program, activity. Sometimes that can't be reached and you build agreement where you can, enough to take action. But, next issue that comes up, you'll be wanting to build some kind of unity for action again.

The kind of argument about arguments you are making won't convince people of your original position and makes them want to avoid any kind of constructive discussion in the future.

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 11, 2015

Khawaga has been an intelligent commenter here for quite a few years now. You on the other hand are a recent arrival who showed up excitedly slaying strawmen about class and class struggle left, right and centre and thus blew any chance at credibility you had from the outset.

I see. So seniority here apparently excuses lying as a means to discredit someone.

If I have been attacking strawmen about the class struggle tradition, I don't see how any of them even remotely compare to flat-out lying, saying someone held the exact opposite view they do hold, and when caught out, resorting to childish insults and deflections.

When people corrected me on what their position really was, I modified my arguments accordingly. I stopped directing my criticism at "class strugglism" and used the more accurate workerism. When people insisted they weren't class reductionists, I stopped treating them as if they were.

The attacks directed at me however have gotten worse. I have an different philosophy to most of you guys here. You disagree with me. That's fine. By all means, tell me that philosophy is wrong and explain why you think it's wrong and how workerism is superior. But don't make up fictional positions with no relation to anything I've said and attribute them to me.

akai

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by akai on April 11, 2015

Back to the piece itself, I find it to be very poor and lacking in good arguments. Some points made I find absurd, such as claims that the last time anarchists had an "achievements" it was in the anti-globalization movement. It shows a lack of depth of understanding and sort of situates the author in his milieu. But I criticize Black Badger for the ageist remark. I would not equate being young with being naive. How would one explain people like Graeber for example? But at least Graeber made an attempt to back up his claims with some examples. This text is just plain moralizing with little substance.

Keep in mind that the author himself did not submit this piece to libcom, so probably did not intend to start a debate here.

Some of the comments are also objectionable to me, particulary those of Connor Owens, hereinafter CO. CO uses terms like "workerist", which, to the best of my knowledge, was a derogative anti-anarchosyndicalist term popular with post-left anarchists, primitivists etc. In CO's criticism, we have a character of anarchosyndicalist ideas ... although not only, because he seems to lump Marxists, anarchosyndicalists, etc. in one bag. He claims that all "workerists" have to offer is some reformist syndicalism and goes on to talk about how the revolution will not be made by urban factory workers.

I wanted to comment on why this is a lot of horse shit. Not because I think that the revolution is gonna necessarily be made by factory workers and certainly not in defense of reformist syndicalism. This is horse shit because anybody with a modicum of knowledge know that there is anarchosyndicalism which does not support reformist syndicalism. The defenders of reformist syndicalism are in the reformist unions, such as the CGT of Spain, CNT-SO, etc. and are in some platformist groups which defend working inside reformist unions to gain the power of the class. However, one can't assume any of the people commenting here are supporters of reformist unionism. In fact, the supporters of reformist unionism seem more likely to support reformist social movements, popular movements and so-on as revolutions since they place more value on the idea of reform.

If we look at what anarchosyndicalists actually say, we rarely find anybody who claims that a revolution has to be made by an urban proletariat. In the classic anarchosyndicalist movements, for example in the CNT in Spain, we find a lot of involvement of peasants, rural collectives, etc. This was not some isolated incident, because the image portrayed by CO is a charicature with no relation to what anarchosyndicalists actually think. I don't think there are any serious anarchosyndicalists who deny that movements can be made under different social conditions - for example, in places where most people are small landowners, not employed in a traditional labor relation. However you would find many who would say that on a larger scale, the labor relation is the key issue for the working class revolution and that anything that does not include this is only a partial social transformation. It could also be just a local transformation. (Personally, I am not against local transformations as such. But it depends on the details.)

But this argument, brought up by CO, is just something thrown in to get the argument off course, because it was not the issue being discussed. Maybe it is how CO understands the issue, but that's his lack of understanding.

We can't put all the people writing critical remarks in one bag, because the aren't coming from the same line. I'll put myself on the critical line but say upfront that it is not because I am against, for example, communal agricultural societies and promoting communalism. Yes, I think it is not an entire solution. As far as Bookchin's ideas are concerned, I have always been critical since they can be understood to put the democratic form over revolutionary economic goals. But this depends on other factors.

However, sometimes I read stuff like this, from Dr. Yusuf:

Where are your urgent goals right now?

We will begin by finding a solution to unemployment. We will find this in developing a thinking around production that is supported by the land. Because our economic model is a model which takes as its base a production based on the land and animal husbandry. We will encourage everyone to work their own lands based on the needs of the community. We will also develop animal husbandry. During the Baath Regime period animal husbandry had almost been finished off. Animal products were coming to the Afrin Canton and its environs from the outside. It is still this way.

We will attempt to include regional capital investors in this process. But we will not allow them the opportunity to exploit the community and people or monopolize. The Afrin canton is an agricultural canton. For that reason we will solve the problems of our farmers and will contribute to the diversification of their production. We will build small production units, for example we will give more importance to the region’s olive production which up until now has not been given importance. We will move towards small-scale industrialization in our region in which all olive products will be processed.

These kind of details should generate questions, not turning your brain off. If there is an unemployment problem, there means that a part of the population does not live off its own labour on its own lands, but selling its labor. If there are to be capital investors, why would they invest but not exploit? It means there is a group of people with excess capital. What is going to happen to their capital? Will it be communalized and for the use of everyone, without any return? Or will it be left to the discretion of the capitalists whether or not they will "invest" their money for the development of animal husbandry?

Do you have any projects designed to develop economic and commercial relations with your neighbors?

Of course there are. As we consider our possibilities there will be a need for a market for these products. At the same time there are things which must come from foreign markets into our region. We will attempt to go beyond this with trade. For this reason we will try to develop our relations with neighboring countries.

Right now we are experiencing certain difficulties that are a result of the problems being experienced in Syria more generally. For example our canton has received hundreds of thousands of refugees. Together with this came certain difficulties. We are trying to create job, production, and work opportunities for those just coming off the road. We are trying to provide opportunities for work with the small scale production units we have opened.

So, another concrete question. Here are hundred of thousands of people who need "work opportunities". What we should be asking is not "do they have work", but how this work is organized? Are they able to decide as a collective how the wealth created is divided or is this done on a societal level or is it done from the top-down. Does anybody concretely know this answer?

No doubt, the people who are leading the ideas of "the social economy" are trying to secure a better material life for the people of the region. This should not be hard to do, because the region is rich. Like in other places, in the past, resources were taken out of the region, sent towards another destination than the local people. One can always argue for economic autonomy and get wide support when the argument will be that "more wealth will be kept in the region, for the people". It is just a question about how this will actually be divided.

If we want to believe the doctors of the social economy, we will believe that they want a better life for "the people". If we look through the details though, we don't have too much information about the economics of the communes, nor do we have any plan against private industry and wage labor. It's like they want to increase communes parallelly to letting private capitalism go on.

http://sange.fi/kvsolidaarisuustyo/wp-content/uploads/Dr.-Ahmad-Yousef-Social-economy-in-Rojava.pdf

In any case, I have no doubt that reforming the economy could benefit some people and maybe the move towards communes could be an interesting experiment, but I am waiting for something clearer on issues like private property, capitalism, inherited wealth, wage labor, workers and community control of production to be put forward. Maybe I missed something somewhere, but criticizing monopoly capitalism is not the same as criticizing capitalism and wage labor itself. Of course, the ideas about abolishing money could be interesting, but depend on what people eventually have access to and whether money is universally abolished, or just in the hands of a few.

We could remind people about some "experiments" in Cuba in the late sixties, which were partly brought in on a limited scale and thought to be some deferrence to the crushed libertarian movements, which also sought to eliminate money, but it did not mean that the workers themselves could decide about the distribution and use of what they produced, so it just was a massive failure because the workers in these experiments had no way to get any savings and obtain extra items and they wound up in a worse position in relation to salaried workers, so they didn't want to work there. OK, that's maybe a bit off-topic, but I would say that the important thing is the details.

JoeMaguire

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by JoeMaguire on April 11, 2015

bastarx

JoeMaguire

It’s a stupid comment in the sense that the intersectionalism does have something relevant to say, but all ideas have their parody. What is interesting with some of the current crop of radicals coming out of university is that they have a definite line and praxis on gender equality and cultural appropriation, but are ubiquitous on what breaches capital, what defines socialism, what workers control might look like etc. And this emanates through here very strongly. I’m not sure how you would otherwise characterise this point and the influence these trends are having politically.

Ubiquitous doesn't mean what you think it means, it means everywhere. Did you mean opaque?

Yeah.

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 11, 2015

Flint

Connor, this sort of rhetorical argument will never convince someone you are arguing with to change their opinion about something. It also isn't very convincing to an audience who at best care about the substance of the argument, not a tit-for-tat on who said what. It's like trying to win a parliamentary point according to Robert's Rules, but losing the actual proposal on the floor.

In an ideal world, I would agree. But how exactly is it possible to argue about substance - about Rojava, class struggle, direct democracy, national liberation and the Kurds, anything - when one person is just simply lying about what their opponent is saying to other people? I've been insulted here, spoken to with an air of smug condescension, and every one of my comments - no matter what the content - downvoted, but none of that compares to someone telling others lies about my positions.

Inaccuracies can be corrected. Strawmen can be replaced with the real arguments they are a caricature of. But when someone says you hold the exact opposite position that you do hold in an attempt to defame you, so that no one else will take you seriously? That was my breaking point.

Here there should be a general assumption that people do actually want to achieve some kind of libertarian communism. There are differences of opinion about how to bring that about. There has to be a building towards agreement, shared program, activity. Sometimes that can't be reached and you build agreement where you can, enough to take action. But, next issue that comes up, you'll be wanting to build some kind of unity for action again.

Couldn't agree more. The problem is that, because of differences in approach (though the differences aren't as great as most of the commenters seem to think) most of the people continually downvoting everything I say and subsequently attacking me don't bother to learn or even ask what my actual proposals for a shared course of action are. They've now turned to simply making things up and claiming I believe in them to newcomers - while upvoting a friend of theirs who was exposed as flat-out lying.

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 11, 2015

akai

In the long first half of your comment responding to what you feel are my distortions of the anarcho-syndicalist position (though your impressions of what I was saying are inaccurate) I see an awful lot of saying what you don't stand for as a means of achieving libertarian socialism - reformist workplace organising, etc - and of what anarcho-syndicalists have done in the past, but literally nothing with regard to what you are doing right now to try to bring libertarian socialism about.

So you're obviously not in favour of building democratised communities with municipalised economies a la most Social Ecologists. You're not in favour of reformist workplace organising (though I've seen many anarcho-syndicalists do so) You're not in favour of working within reformist unions (though if I'm not mistaken this is key to the specifist tactic). And as far as Rojava, Kurdistan, and the Zapatistas are concerned you're against any form of national liberation from colonialism, an alien state, or anything else - even when it's an explicitly anti-statist and anti-capitalist form of national liberation.

Okay then. What do contemporary anarcho-syndicalists propose doing to bring about libertarian socialism? Because all I keep hearing are vague appeals to "class solidarity". Most of these commenters are Marxists, not anarchists, so that's to be expected. But what exactly does this mean from a specifically anarchist perspective?

Does it mean getting everyone organised into anarcho-syndicalist unions and then declaring a general strike? Because that will never happen and can never happen. It's a pipe dream.

Does it mean armed insurrection by "workers" militias against the state in which the means of production are violently seized? Because even in practice organisation would have to be organised more on the level of geographic localities instead of economic enterprises - whose productive resources are often spread across vast distances.

Let me ask it in this way, can you list under three headings - short-term goals, mid-term goals, long-term goals - how you think libertarian socialism ought to be achieved the anarcho-syndicalist way. I've read a fair bit about the subject but every one here keeps telling me that my impressions are completely wrong, but then repeatedly fail to provide anything in the way of a concrete explanation as to why they're wrong via point out how they do think a revolution needs to be made.

I know it needs to involve people organising as a "class" (whatever that means in practice) but little else. It increasingly seems like those criticising Rojava are doing so from the perspective of a fuzzy, ethereal ideal of how a "real" revolution needs to happen, and are attacking it as the reality isn't living up to that ideal (or for the Marxists, because it isn't following the script).

PS: The term "workerism" was only used for lack of a better alternative. I originally directed my arguments against "class strugglism" (also used for lack of a better alternative at the time), but then it was pointed out to me by Ocelot and Flint that there are versions of this tendency which are not class reductionist and that many class strugglists are critically supportive of Rojava. I agreed, then tried to think of a better word to act as a short hand for "ultra-economistic class struggle reductionist who thinks anything that deviates from Marxian economics and my own ideas of how proletarian revolution needs to happen is a bourgeois liberal and/or Trotskyite nationalist".

Workerism was the best I could come up with. And I certainly didn't mean it to apply to anyone who thinks the focus should be more on workplace organising than democratic community organising.

akai

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by akai on April 11, 2015

CO,

Fair enough, those are very good questions. As I am bad at being brief, I'll need some time but will answer. Now I have to get off to my organization's Congress, so might not be able to do it this weekend, but will try as soon as possible. I won't duck your question. But I will warn that whatever I say would be my personal opinion. There is total agreement on how the revolution should look in organizations like anarchosyndicalist ones since they tend to have a bit of pluralism in them and concentrate more on short-term goals and getting agreement on concrete tactics for the here and now rather than having many theoretical debates about the future society. This is a limit but often the more that any particular organization wants to focus on mass organizing right now, the more that its activists leave the blueprint for the future society more hazy.

I think when I answer, I will open another thread and link to it, OK?

akai

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by akai on April 11, 2015

But sorry, CO, in the meanwhile, I listed a few questions about what the details of the communes, about relations to private property and industry, to inherited wealth, etc. etc. You sort of skipped all these questions, which I consider essential, to challenge me to write how we're gonna make a revolution. (Nice homework assignment.) Maybe I won't even have ideas about how this could be done, which might satisfy you, I admit, but I do know something. If I were in Rojava, I would be asking how to equalize material conditions when they are not equal, about how concrete decision making will be made regarding production and consumption, about exactly how ideas to eliminate money would work, etc. etc. Maybe these discussions go on, but I have no information about this. Maybe you do?

rat

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by rat on April 11, 2015

Good post by JoeMaguire.
(I've only quoted because the post aren't numbered)

Although, it's probably not just radical / activist types coming out of university and I think maybe a fair few anarchists within the various organisations maybe moving in a the direction outlined in the last paragraph.

JoeMaguire

It’s a stupid comment in the sense that the intersectionalism does have something relevant to say, but all ideas have their parody. What is interesting with some of the current crop of radicals coming out of university is that they have a definite line and praxis on gender equality and cultural appropriation, but are ubiquitous on what breaches capital, what defines socialism, what workers control might look like etc. And this emanates through here very strongly. I’m not sure how you would otherwise characterise this point and the influence these trends are having politically.

See this

But even if the PYD betrayed the revolution of the Rojava people by bending to the forces of capital, then the Rojava revolution would still be a success. This is because what has occurred in Rojava is a women’s revolution, one I believe to be the best developed in the history of our civilisation.

What the article does is counterposes questions about the ownership of the means of production with gender liberation, trumping the one with the other, which is clearly a false dichotomy. It’s a reversion into identity politics, which doesn’t seek to challenge the fragmentation imposed on us, as workers, against capital, organising through various struggles, but seeks to accept them uncritically albeit through a reformist and gender progressive prism of trying to control capital.

Chilli Sauce

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 11, 2015

Owens

"the US bombed the people trying to kill them, therefore they're helping imperialism"

Where do you even find the space to keep all those strawmen?

Anyway, you ask what we're "doing" to support workers or the revolution in Rojava. I'd throw the same question right back at you, because having arguments on the internet isn't an act of solidarity. Sorry mate.

What I'd like to know is if you'd be so gung-ho about any revolution that purports to have libertarian features. Because that's the thing - most leftist groups, especially those with a shot at assuming power, talk about things like worker control or direct democracy or the liberation of women or anti-imperialism. These same things were said by the Bolsheviks or by Castro or by Mao (who called himself an anarchist).

The impression I get from a lot of Rojava supporters - and you in particular - is one of, "it's a revolution, we must support it." And while I understand the urge, as an anarchist I feel the need to criticize precisely because we've seen what happens with leftist revolutions, despite whatever rhetoric they were using at the time.

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 11, 2015

akai

There is total agreement on how the revolution should look in organizations like anarchosyndicalist ones since they tend to have a bit of pluralism in them and concentrate more on short-term goals and getting agreement on concrete tactics for the here and now rather than having many theoretical debates about the future society. This is a limit but often the more that any particular organization wants to focus on mass organizing right now, the more that its activists leave the blueprint for the future society more hazy

I wasn't enquiring about blueprints for the future society. Templates (not blueprints however) are important as well, but that's not what I was asking about. Most Social Ecologists want an economy that's primarily community-directed (by popular assemblies and confederated communities) while most anarcho-syndicalists want an economy that's primarily worker-directed (by worker councils and federated syndicates). That's an issue that can be resolved when the construction of the new economy becomes the main focus and can hopefully be resolvable in some sort of compromise or synthesis. It's not something that should divide anarchists too much when it comes to practice and organising in the here and now.
I was asking about the here-to-there question.

This - not models for what a fully libertarian socialist economy, polity, and society should look like - is the problem that seems to be dividing anarchists about Rojava. At the moment, there are at least the embryonic units on the ground of the kinds of associations and structures social anarchists wish to characterise the society we want to create - in particular, community-owned self-managed cooperatives and federated directly-democratic assemblies which have control over political, economic, and social issues in their areas.

The point of contention seems to be whether the way the Rojavans are going about it will in fact lead to anything libertarian in practice.

My own position is that there are some big problems that need to be addressed (the PKKs nationalist/Stalinist past, Abdullah Ocalan's cult of personality, and others) but that overall what's happening has a lot of potential if only it were pushed in a more anarchistic direction.

The position of nearly every anarchist (I'll ignore the Marxists as they're not relevant) in this forum who's opposed to Rojava seems to come from this unifying angle:

It's oriented around broad social organising (inspired by Murray Bookchin's thought) through building democratised localities and a municipalised economy instead of strictly class based organising and economic institutions

There have been so many misreadings of Bookchin's proposals on this matter (many of them deliberate caricatures) it may be futile to explain what they really mean. Nevertheless, I will try briefly to do so.

Bookchin - and by extension the Kurds affiliated to the PKK/PYD - are not (I repeat, NOT) in favour of ditching class struggle or economic considerations. Ocelot for example suggested that the position was one of a "flat ontology" in which class was just one form of domination among many - with others being race, gender, sexuality, nationality, ecology. This has never been the case. Bookchin himself accepted the Marxian class analysis and the need for class struggle but went beyond it to form a broader conception of social hierarchy and domination. His ecological critique of hierarchy and advocacy of community-oriented social struggle were an EXPANSION of the class analysis and class struggle, not a replacement for them. A good way to put it would in fact be something like "Class-Struggle-Plus" - or "CP+" if you wanted a slogan.

It means members of the working classes (plural), not a cross-class movement including the ruling class, working to create democratised localities in which the means of production would be expropriated from capitalists and from the state, and fall under the stewardship of the community themselves and be organised through networks of popular assemblies and through workplace assemblies in each municipalised enterprise. How is is not addressing economic questions? It involves the communalisation of all productive resources and the equalisation of material conditions, restricting property ownership to personal possession by use and occupancy.

The reason this strategy is so often criticised with those who take the purely class struggle oriented position (aside from just misunderstandings of it) is that (and this is my own view on this, I may be wrong) they are still working with the basic Marxist idea that revolutions need to put the issue of the workplace front-and-centre as they feel it must be seen as the primary "site of struggle" against capital and the state. Creating democratic political/social associations must be a secondary priority, as must issues of race, gender, sexuality, nationality, and ecology. Not that they're unimportant, or that they don't deserve addressing along the way, but class/workplace considerations must always come first. Because what cuts across all those hierarchies is class.

In other words, on this issue they see this kind of communitarian approach being put in action, see it's not focused chiefly on workplaces, then decide it must be "bourgeois", "liberal", or whatever else.

There's also of course that the Kurds are a people who have been denied their unique cultural identity for decades and want to create a society in which that will not be denied to them. So they could (in their present incarnation) be classified as national liberationist, but not nationalist - as they have explicitly denied wanting to create a separate Kurdish nation-state and, on the contrary, have described this an an impediment to their cultural liberation.

But for those anarchists who are attacking them, class must always come first. Any desire for a distinct national identity - god forbid organising on that basis - must be completely dissolved in the name of some planetary sense of class identity crossing all national borders. The fact that they are being denied their culture by the Turkish and Syrian states should be irrelevant. They should simply stop caring about trying to liberate their culture and join a primarily economic struggle with the Turkish working class - even if they have to continue to suffer national oppression by the Turkish state.

As for the feminist movement, the directly-democratic assemblies, the attempts at raising ecological consciousness, the integration of all ethnic groups into the movement, and of course the directly democratic associations, all of this is irrelevant if workplace organising and subscription to an international "working class" identity is not front-and-centre.

There also seems to be this perspective of anti-imperialism being more or less synonymous with this uncritical anti-Americanism. They accepted help from the US in bombing the people about to kill them. That makes them "pawns of imperialism" (Peter Storm). How precisely is not explained. It is not claimed that America will force them to dismantle their democratic project or aid in crushing other potential libertarian movements in the region - because this hasn't happened in exchange for the bombings. It is simply asserted that cooperating in any way with America for any reason automatically equates to "imperialism".

When I'm not being referred to as a Trotskyite or a liberal or having to endure people just plain lying about my position, the above is what I have a problem with regarding the anarchists attacking Rojava.

But my biggest problem is that they offer no alternatives. Just vague claims that they need to acquire "class solidarity". There is no attempt to examine how what's already being done could be pushed in a more libertarian (even class strugglist) direction. To them, it is as if they were just building social democracy instead of trying to build libertarian socialism. ie: "class isn't front and centre in these people's minds. Must have no potential at all. The laundromat strike me and my buddies in our local anarcho-syndicalist union are supporting on the other hand, that's really revolutionary. We have class front and centre. At best it'll just end with a slight pay raise and the capitalist boss will still own the place. But we've got class solidarity on our side. We're the real revolutionaries. The Rojavans are just a bunch of nationalist liberals"

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 11, 2015

Chilli Sauce

Anyway, you ask what we're "doing" to support workers or the revolution in Rojava. I'd throw the same question right back at you, because having arguments on the internet isn't an act of solidarity

Whataboutery now is it? I didn't think even you would resort to such a weak argument.

The impression I get from a lot of Rojava supporters - and you in particular - is one of, "it's a revolution, we must support it." And while I understand the urge, as an anarchist I feel the need to criticize precisely because we've seen what happens with leftist revolutions, despite whatever rhetoric they were using at the time

It's not "rhetoric". They're actually building direct democracy and economic self-management on the ground. I thought you liked Marxism. Well you're denying material reality.

Chilli Sauce

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 11, 2015

Willingly missing the point I see.

Anyway,

Owens

For those anarchists...any desire for a distinct national identity - god forbid organising on that basis - must be completely dissolved in the name of some planetary sense of class identity crossing all national borders.

Yes, because we're anarchists who view the "nation" and nationalism as structures that, at best, are merely divisive and exclusionary while always containing the germ of oppression and exploitation.

And, again, I don't think anyone's arguing that there's no possibility that worthwhile things are going on on the ground (but please, keep beating up that strawman), merely that
(a) we don't actually know very well what's going on the ground and
(b) the nationalistic elements of the movement need be criticized, not merely swept under the carpet as some "problematic" afterthought.

Can anyone else hear the carousel music playing in the background?

Chilli Sauce

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 11, 2015

Double post.

Spikymike

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Spikymike on April 11, 2015

At last Owen's put's all his strawman positions together in one go. It seems that however many times it is said that an anti-capitalist class perspective is not confined to a workplace strategy, does not ignore or downgrade cultural, gender, ecological or any other of these issues but seeks to integrate them through a process of unifying class struggle that can potentially undermine global capitalism at it's roots and create the basis of a transition to communism, that Owens continually ignores this and falls back on his 'workerist' accusations and general ignorance of any 'marxism' other than that previously favoured by the PKK. Again to be clear that does not pit this approach against everything happening on the ground in Rojava but takes a fundamentally more critical approach to both the current reality and the anticapitalist potential of what is happening. It is also especially critical of the attempt to universalise the Bookchinite/Ocalan 'social ecology' approach as the appropriate strategy in the advanced economiies of modern capitalism. So we will just have to disagree with Owen's and hope that others may at least better understand the real differences between us.

Chilli Sauce

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 11, 2015

Owens

They're actually building direct democracy and economic self-management on the ground.

Just on this, that was also happening in Russia in 1917, for example. And while that should have and would have been supported by anarchists, anarchists also had a duty to criticise the nationalist, hierarchical, partyist element of the October Revolution.

That's vaguely analogous to the situation of anarchists on Rojava. I don't really see what what's so difficult to grasp about that.

And I'm done. I'm going outside.

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 11, 2015

Spikeymike

an anti-capitalist class perspective is not confined to a workplace strategy, does not ignore or downgrade cultural, gender, ecological or any other of these issues but seeks to integrate them through a process of unifying class struggle that can potentially undermine global capitalism at it's roots and create the basis of a transition to communism

HOW HOW HOW HOW HOW???

What does any of that mean in practice? Not a single word so far. Zilch. Nada. Nothing in the way of practical solutions to a single problem in the here-and-now and no strategy whatsoever other than complaining to people about needing "class consciousness". Marxism is dead. Never coming back. It's been so thoroughly poisoned by the 20th century experience no one takes it seriously as anything but a frightening vision of totalitarianism. "Workers of the world unite!" I'm not a worker, I'm a person. Collective identity for social struggles do not end at something most of us hate doing.

Integrating class struggle with all those other issues is itself the Social Ecologist position, along with building democratised communities.

What exactly do you think is so different and inferior about it to the "libertarian" Marxist tradition. How are all the trans-class hierarchies integrated into class struggle? What practical actions sets the stage for the transition the communism? NO ANSWERS AT ALL. Because there aren't any. Not from Marxism anyway. Marxism is a bankrupt ideology with little to offer anyone in the contemporary world. It's poison to anyone trying to actually create democracy and socialism.

Just meaningless pontificating from a more-radical-than-thou pedestal without actually doing anything is the "libertarian" Marxist way.

Agent of the I…

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Agent of the I… on April 11, 2015

Peopleology - anything but class

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 11, 2015

Peopleology - anything but class

Says about ten times is in favour of class analysis and class struggle as essential to social struggle.
Still gets accused of thinking class isn't important.

And I'M the one who gets accused of sticking up strawmen.

bastarx

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by bastarx on April 11, 2015

Connor Owens

I'm not a worker, I'm a person. Collective identity for social struggles do not end at something most of us hate doing.

So are you a boss then? Is that why you hate class struggle?

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 11, 2015

Bastarx

Genuinely can't tell if you really couldn't see the blindingly obvious fact that I meant most people hate working (in wage-labour) not hate class struggle, or if this was just another typical marxist deliberate misreading.

Chilli Sauce

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 11, 2015

"typical Marxist"

Not a single word so far. Zilch. Nada. Nothing in the way of practical solutions to a single problem in the here-and-now and no strategy whatsoever other than complaining to people about needing "class consciousness".

If you're up for some reading, here's where I'd start:

https://libcom.org/library/fighting-ourselves-anarcho-syndicalism-class-struggle-solidarity-federation

Also, like that little strawman. Has anyone on any of these threads "complained" about people "needing" class consciousness? Has anyone but you actually talked about class consciousness?

Chilli Sauce

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 11, 2015

Marxism is dead. Never coming back. It's been so thoroughly poisoned by the 20th century experience no one takes it seriously as anything but a frightening vision of totalitarianism.

So how did the PKK recruit all those members prior to their leader's conversion to Bookchin?

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 11, 2015

Chilli Sauce

Has anyone on any of these threads "complained" about people "needing" class consciousness? Has anyone but you actually talked about class consciousness?

Quote from Spkeymike:

stunted resistance is in turn partly a reflection of the low level of class consciousness and the strength of nationalist and democratic ideologies that unfortunately much of the left (including prominant western promoters of the claimed 'Rojava Revolution') continue to peddle

As for Fighting for Ourselves, I've read it. It's a nice overview of anarcho-syndicalism. Which despite having a lot of good proposals for how to fight for reforms in the short and mid term, has always had a profoundly silly notion of how a revolution is supposed to happen.

“The insurrectionary general strike marks the start of the process of building the libertarian communist society.”

Excerpt From: Federation, Solidarity. “Fighting for ourselves.” iBooks.
This material may be protected by copyright.

Never gonna happen. Georges Sorel even admitted as much (before he became a fascist) that a general strike was simply a folk myth to help mobilise people. It's absolutely impossible to get enough people organised into appropriate trade unions with the right ideology, then just collectively decide to lock out the capitalist class. The book also declares that no one can predict when a revolution will occur. So it's just a case of sitting on out asses waiting for the big insurrection like Evangelicals waiting for the rapture.

It seems the catchphrase of most everybody here on Libcom is "strawman!" whenever I talk about their Marxo-anarchist beliefs. Yet I've seen precious little to indicate my characterisations of them as ultra-economistic class-struggle reductionists with no actual constructive vision were not misplaced.

When I made my account a few days ago to debate Rojava on this site, I was initially expecting something qualitatively different from all the Marxist-Leninists I used to debate, with their practices of deliberately misreading people's arguments, petty insults, ideological purism, and pretentious more-radical-than-thou armchair theorising. How wrong I was.

After being lambasted by you for the last couple of days I can quite clearly see most of you are basically just Leninists in libertarian drag.

Spikymike

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Spikymike on April 11, 2015

Owen's - does it not cross your mind that we might both support at least some of the same forms of practical struggle and some of the same methods of organisation both in the workplace and the wider 'community' depending on our asssesment of their content (ie strikes, occupations, assemblies, delegate councils etc) and that our genuine differences of perspective are what however will affect our different ways of involvement in and encouragement of those struggles. Our perspective is one which takes the view that in the long term it is only a unity based on the international working class or proletariate that has the power to undermine and potentially overthrow global capitalism - not a unity based on gender, 'race', ethnicity, religion, nationality, geography etc. But all these are real material divisions which have to be worked through to achieve that unity in practice and not just in theory. We communists tend to emphasise the content of struggles which challenge value production and the commodity form and organisation which seeks to cross and extend beyond sectional and national etc boundaries. I know all that is a bit simplified but taken together with my other comments on other related discussion threads I hope makes some sense. We cant thrash out all this wider debate on these few discussion threads when there is so much other relevant material on this site going over the same ground.

Devrim

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Devrim on April 11, 2015

Chilli Sauce

Marxism is dead. Never coming back. It's been so thoroughly poisoned by the 20th century experience no one takes it seriously as anything but a frightening vision of totalitarianism.

So how did the PKK recruit all those members prior to their leader's conversion to Bookchin?

They recruited all of those members on a nationalist basis because they are and always have been a nationalist party.

Devrim

Khawaga

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on April 11, 2015

When I made my account a few days ago to debate Rojava on this site, I was initially expecting something qualitatively different from all the Marxist-Leninists I used to debate, with their practices of deliberately misreading people's arguments, petty insults, ideological purism, and pretentious more-radical-than-thou armchair theorising. How wrong I was

Pot, kettle, black.

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 11, 2015

Spikeymike

only a unity based on the international working class or proletariate that has the power to undermine and potentially overthrow global capitalism - not a unity based on gender, 'race', ethnicity, religion, nationality, geography etc.

This can't even be called a caricature of the Social Ecology position on social struggle. At least caricatures superficially resemble the position they're attacking. This is simply a made-up fantasy you've invented of what you think Social Ecology "must" be that bears no relation to it whatsoever. I've explained what the actual position is (class struggle + trans-economic struggles) and every Marxist who's read it must have had some kind of self-induced hallucination to make them see something else, or is just being a typical Marxist and distorting it on purpose then trying to convince their buddies of the validity of this distortion.

We communists tend to emphasise the content of struggles which challenge value production and the commodity form

And that's a large part of why your project will fail. It's based on an outmoded and discredited economic framework that failed to understand how capitalism worked fully in the 19th century and fails to understand it almost completely in the contemporary world.

radicalgraffiti

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by radicalgraffiti on April 11, 2015

You keep saying trans economic,I don't think that means what you think it means.

Agent of the I…

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Agent of the I… on April 11, 2015

Seriously, he can't do anything else?

Like explore the library libcom.org has to offer?

Like actually read Marx's Capital, vol 1, 2 & 3?

Get familiarized with different tendencies, movements, writers, etc.?

How is conducting yourself like the way you are doing in this forum productive?

Khawaga

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on April 11, 2015

So Connors just confirmed that class doesn't exist because commodity production is outmoded and discredited, despite the readily obsrvable fact of its continued existence. I guess your conception of class is the sociological identity bs, hence your references to the big burly factory workers. I would at least thought that someone who seems to be a bit of a excorcist of Marxism would at least understand some of it's basic building blocks and how class is tied to commodity production and the wage. I guess not...

Pennoid

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Pennoid on April 11, 2015

Trans is a Latin noun or prefix, meaning "across", "beyond" or "on the opposite side".

That's from wikipedia. That's my understanding of "trans" and is why I take issue with it. No cross-class alliance can have revolutionary content. You don't seem to understand that. Or you're using trans in a way that is extremely specific and unusual.

Marx's economic ideas have not been proven outmoded or outdated really. I mean, care to substantiate that? You take issue with the LTV? Or the Fetish? Or the idea of the FROP? Those tend to be the most controversial. But exploitation, which you seem to not comprehend (oppression is everything!) was not among the controversial facts, or at least not all that original. Anarchist and Marxists alike have agreed that capitalism is a system of exploitation. But you you seem to have no idea what waged labor is or what class is.

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 11, 2015

Agent of the whatever

I honestly tried to make an effort to be civil early on. Nearly ten pages of Marxobabble spite (Spikeymike), distortions (you), and flat-out lies (Khawaga) have worn my patience out.

I don't see the point in trying to be nice towards a stupid ideology which led to the killing of 100 million people in the twentieth century, yet is still laughably peddled by crusty Old Left purists who haven't yet accepted the end of the Red 30s and is quote mined for possible "libertarian" interpretations of it. Marx the man had a lot of good ideas. He also had some pretty awful ones. To continue to treat his old models of how the world works as holy scripture and the starting point for everything is pure religious dogma. It leads to such laughable ideological confusions such as dismissing a movement creating direct democracy and a cooperative economy in the heart of a war as "bourgeois" and "imperialist", while venerating the most reformist acts of economic organising, because one has the "correct" class analysis in mind and the other doesn't.

I've read the content on Libcom regularly for a few years and got a lot of good books from the library. There's a lot of good information on the site. But you guys here, despite being mostly smart people (except you Agent, who's just been an obnoxious anti-intellectual) all come across as acting like a bunch of spiteful, puritanical, holier-than-thou dicks. Like the communist equivalent of Daily Mail readers. I honestly don't know who you're trying to reach with this approach (Marxobabble, distortions, lies, and spite at people who dare challenge the received orthodoxy). You honestly remind me of the bullies who used to verbally abuse me and others like me as a teen.

As for you Khawaga, given that you can defy all common sense in taking my saying that the Marxian school of economics is outmoded and discredited and receive that as saying "commodity production is outmoded and discredited", you've pretty much confirmed the initial impression of you as either a liar or someone who simply can't read.

Pennoid

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Pennoid on April 11, 2015

For municipal-socialist guerilla warfare! Marxism-Bergerism-Maoism-Bookchinism! A single spark can light a prairie fire! Socialism in one neighborhood!

You know, for all Graeber's "20th-century-revolutionaries-were-trapped-in-a-world-of-capitalist-mechanized-warfare-and-so-peaceful-anarchism-was-ideologically-off-the-table" him and his ilk sure are smitten by the fact that this movement has guns and the right rhetoric.

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 11, 2015

Pennoid

No cross-class alliance can have revolutionary content

I've now said about a dozen times to no avail that Social Ecology is opposed to cross-class alliances. No collaborations with members or institutions of the ruling classes should be pursued. That's why I started saying trans-economic instead of trans-class to better reflect what I meant - issues that go beyond just economic concerns. So that forms of hierarchy and domination which aren't reducible to economic exploitation don't end up being seen as secondary to struggles against economic exploitation.

I made a conscious effort to respect the class struggle perspective and modified my critiques when class strugglists took issue with the terminology and/or models of their policies I was using. No one here has done the same with regard to Social Ecology in an attempt to understand what the Rojavans are doing, why they're doing it, or what I've been talking about here.

exploitation, which you seem to not comprehend (oppression is everything!

I'm honestly bored of having to refute this asinine and ignorant strawman and I see no point in doing your homework for you by having to explain a position you which you should know about already if you feel able to attack it.

I accept Kropotkin's view of exploitation. Not Marx's. Exploitation is far more simply explained as a result of the state's protection of the private property of the capitalist class, leaving the working classes without the effective means to pursue free labour through self-organisation without having to rent themselves to capitalists through wage-labour to secure their means of survival. Exploitation is the result of the structural inequality of bargaining power between labour and capital.

It need not be explained by recourse to absurdly complex abstractions like "extraction of surplus value from socially necessary abstract labour time". Once again, this is a normative theory opposed to the process of wage-labour on ethical grounds disguised as a scientific theory explaining contradictions of the system on purely objective grounds.

A contemporary economic framework that actually does explain capitalism very well is the power economics school developed by Jonathan Nitzan and Shimschon Bitchler. A brief summary of their ideas is available here:

http://dissidentvoice.org/2010/05/capital-as-power/

And a PDF copy of their book here:

http://bnarchives.yorku.ca/259/2/20090522_nb_casp_full_indexed.pdf

It's actually far more in line with social anarchist thought than Marxian economics ever was, and anarchism suffered a great deal from thinking in Marxist terms - something Malatesta observed long ago.

you seem to have no idea what waged labour is or what class is

(Translation) You refuse to accept our objectively true perspective of what wage-labour and class are.

rat

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by rat on April 11, 2015

Soapy

lol David Graeber keeps calling us losers on twitter. Ooo but David Graeber taught at Yale, he's a winner! We're just fucking losers everyone.

Graeber is on Twitter with some interesting remarks:

David Graeber:
‏@MolotovSundae "think it's a combination of racism & the desire to belong to the world's most exclusive club of the Exactly Politically Right"

https://twitter.com/davidgraeber/status/586102730730659840

Pennoid

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Pennoid on April 11, 2015

defining victory in a way that it cannot possibly be achieved comes down to deciding you don't want victory

He also said the above. Very ironic that working class internationalism is defined as something that is patently unachievable.

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 11, 2015

Very ironic that working class internationalism is defined as something that is patently unachievable.

It is patently unachievable. Or at least the Marxist/workerist version that denies the usefulness and specificity of localised struggles is.

A centralised/hierarchical One Big Movement encompassing several billion people is a pipe dream that thrives on its own impossibility.

Agent of the I…

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Agent of the I… on April 11, 2015

Owens,

You want answers?

You could try the ICC's forum. It's a pretty nice group in there that will surely have the patience to address all of your concerns.

Pennoid

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Pennoid on April 11, 2015

I accept Kropotkin's view of exploitation. Not Marx's. Exploitation is far more simply explained as a result of the state's protection of the private property of the capitalist class, leaving the working classes without the effective means to pursue free labour through self-organisation without having to rent themselves to capitalists through wage-labour to secure their means of survival. Exploitation is the result of the structural inequality of bargaining power between labour and capital.

Dawg, you just defined exploitation in terms of oppression AGAIN!

Tl;Dr workers need better access to small business loans. OK Proudhon.

Khawaga

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on April 11, 2015

Yup, it's as if capital doesn't actually exist.

Agent of the I…

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Agent of the I… on April 11, 2015

Khawaga

Yup, it's as if capital doesn't actually exist.

That's the thing, Owens is all about the directly democratic politicalisation of the 'economy'.

Just congregate the people into directly democratic structures, and everything else will just automatically resolve itself. So yes, it includes class struggle and all the other social oppressions he claims he is concerned about, taking place in a new venue.

Its really the ideology of those who feel left out of the existing state structures, the existing "power sharing arrangements", and then decided, "hey(!), we can build our own State, but a directly democratic one"

"Yay!"

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 11, 2015

Dawg, you just defined exploitation in terms of oppression AGAIN!

Tl;Dr workers need better access to small business loans. OK Proudhon.

Oh dear! Do forgive yours truly for siding with anarchists instead of Marxists on a website that was supposed to be open to anarchists!

Class structures are themselves mostly the product of (and protected/reproduced by) statism, with its monopoly on the use of violence used by the ruling elite to protect their private property and class power from expropriation by the multitude. There's no need to try to explain all this in outdated economistic gobbledegook from the 1800s.

As for your belief that exploitation is itself not a form of oppression, I really think you'd benefit from a good thesaurus by your bedside.

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 11, 2015

"hey(!), we can build our own State, but a directly democratic one

Thank you for cluing us in to the fact that you don't know what a state is. Or direct democracy. Or anything in political philosophy (though that was more or less evident already given your previous comments).

Next time middle class proletarians at the ICC forums ignite a proper class-based libertarian revolution, do let us all know.

mikail firtinaci

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by mikail firtinaci on April 11, 2015

Agent of the Fifth International

Its really the ideology of those who feel left out of the existing state structures, the existing "power sharing arrangements", and then decided, "hey(!), we can build our own State, but a directly democratic one"

"Yay!"

I think the ideology of Owen, Graeber and the likes is not the ideology of the ones who felt excluded. Theirs is purely bourgeois democratism in its most liberal form. They are just politically marginalized because they are unable to comprehend that capitalists can no longer operate solely through a Lockean democracy of small property owners. They dream of a democracy like the American colonial elites wanted to establish against the British empire. It is a historically defunct project and Owen and Graeber are just romantic people with bottomless ignorance and a total distrust towards the revolutionary capacity of the working class.

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 11, 2015

Owen and Graeber are just romantic people with bottomless ignorance and a total distrust towards the revolutionary capacity of the working class.

Dear Marxist abstraction of "the working class",

What exactly have you done lately?

mikail firtinaci

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by mikail firtinaci on April 11, 2015

Connor Owens

What exactly have you done lately?

worked for a wage

Khawaga

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on April 11, 2015

Connor, you do realize that Proudhon's gobbledigook is older than Marx's, right? And that Marx owes a lot to Proudhon. So how come, older gobbldigook is better than Marx's? Ah, right because it's not Marxist! And Proudhon is an anarchist! Stellar argumentation there, Owens.

Come on, at least be consistent in your stupidity. Don't make it that easy for us to poke holes in your internet turds (fuck me, that's a shit metaphor! why someone would want to poke holes in turds, i do not know)..

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 11, 2015

you do realize that Proudhon's gobbledigook is older than Marx's, right? And that Marx owes a lot to Proudhon. So how come, older gobbldigook is better than Marx's? Ah, right because it's not Marxist! And Proudhon is an anarchist! Stellar argumentation there

Actually the anarchist I was referring to was Kropotkin, not Proudhon, which you'd understand if you'd bothered to read the whole conversation. I said agreed with Kropotkin's perspective on exploitation over Marx's, this was equated with another anarchist who I largely disagree with (Proudhon). Probably because the person equating the two doesn't understand either.

And an idea's age has nothing to do with whether it's gobbledegook. Kropotkin's ideas have largely stood the test of time and about 75-80% of them remain relevant. The same is only true for about 35% of what Marx wrote. What makes them silly and outdated is trying to fit categories and models for a fundamentally different economic regime to the one that exists today.

Marxian economics' predictive power has always been woeful and its explanatory power little better.

Pennoid

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Pennoid on April 11, 2015

Percentages! This is just great...I'll reply when I'm off work

Khawaga

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on April 11, 2015

What makes them silly and outdated is trying to fit categories and models for a fundamentally different economic regime to the one that exists today.

What is fundamentally different about commodity production and the wage today from 150 years ago?

. Kropotkin's ideas have largely stood the test of time and about 75-80% of them remain relevant. The same is only true for about 35% of what Marx wrote.

Do you know who else made up statistics like this a lot? Anders Behring Breivik. Anyway, I will bite, which 35% of Marx's work has stood the test of time? And how are you calculating these percentages? Based on the Collected Works? On the number of words? Specific arguments and concepts (and how would you get the actual population)? Also, when it comes to Kropotkin, do you mean all of his geographical and biological works, or just his political-economic writings?

Marxian economics' predictive power has always been woeful and its explanatory power little better.

Predictions like the accumulation of misery for most people, the loss of life and limbs due to capital's incessant thirst for surplus-value, the degradation of the environment, that capital is chronically crisis prone? Sure, such predictions have never materialized at all... But I guess what you are referring to is that tired old right-wing nonsense, though 2nd international Marxism was the source of this particular bollocks, that communism was preordained? In short that "history" was on the side of the working class and we could just wait till the "objective conditions" worked themselves out and transformed into communism? Yeah, that prediction Marx never made; all he said was that it's silly to believe that capitalism is eternal, and that because things like commodities, money and capital are not natural forms, but social these forms can be changed and abolished, but we have to actually do it (and Marx never really did give a roadmap; and truth be told, Marx's politics were rather shit).

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 11, 2015

What is fundamentally different about commodity production and the wage today from 150 years ago?

Fake question. So impossibly broad that no one could feasibly disagree.
As a corollary: "What is fundamentally different about class society from 8000 years ago in Mesopotamia? We still have classes don't we? So nothing has really changed in 8000 years. It's still the same system".

Do you know who else made up statistics like this a lot? Anders Behring Breivik.

Do you know who who else made silly association fallacies based on the most arbitrary similarities? HITLER!!! D=

which 35% of Marx's work has stood the test of time? And how are you calculating these percentages?

If I'd known you'd be so anal about my impressions I would have tried using fractions.

Predictions like the accumulation of misery for most people

Given the state of Victorian England and inter-imperialist wars at the time, the average tanner could see that things were going to get worse. Bakunin's contemporaneous analysis proved more accurate.

the loss of life and limbs due to capital's incessant thirst for surplus-value

Noted by Proudhon first.

the degradation of the environment

Bwahahahaha!

that capital is chronically crisis prone? Sure, such predictions have never materialized at all

When I talked about the predictions of Marxian economics, I referred to the fact those those who use the Marxian framework famously "predicted ten out of the last three financial crises". But notably couldn't manage to predict the last big one. I was not referring to the broad sweeping generalisations about the future that more than a dozen thinkers each year could have made. Hell, even HG Wells predicted the future based on material/technological conditions better than Marx and the Marxists did.

Marx's politics were rather shit

But good enough for the folks of Libcom to defer to him like some kind of prophet - on economics and politics; but, as I said, in libertarian drag.

Khawaga

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on April 11, 2015

Fake question. So impossibly broad that no one could feasibly disagree.
As a corollary: "What is fundamentally different about class society from 8000 years ago in Mesopotamia? We still have classes don't we? So nothing has really changed in 8000 years. It's still the same system"

hahahahahahhahahahahhahhahahahahah! Oh, man! Stupidest comment of them all. So ahistorical. here's a little clue for you. Commodity production and money did actually exist prior to capitalism. So what changed? If you have read and understood Marx you should be able to explain that.

And it's cute your little rebuttals. It's like saying: "The Simposons did it!". Just because Proudhon said it first, doesn't make Marx's "predictions" worse. He put all of these into a system and explained why capitalism would lead to such and such. And sorry, if anyone claims that they can predict the next economic crisis, they are talking bullshit. You may be able to predict that capitalism is crisis prone, but if you claim that you can predict the exact time and place, you may as well be calculating the date of the apocalypse.

And if you've read Marx (like you claim you do; most likely you've read the manifesto, a few snippest here and there from Capital, the German Ideology and maybe the letter to Bloch), you would know that there is a rather big difference between Marx's economic and political writings. Most people that rely on Marx refer to his economic writings, but poo poos most of his political ones.

Come on: show me your Marx knowledge. Prove that you've actually read Capital. Because your posts just reveals more and more that you haven't and that you're talking out of your arse when it comes to his theories. You could have just said: not interested in the bearded fellah, I take my shit from Bookchin. But nope, you had to claim to have read him (likely because of your inflated ego and self-importance); well if you do, show that you have read him by actually critiquing the theory, not this high-school debunking of Marx that might as well come from Fox News in how superficial it is.

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 11, 2015

Just because Proudhon said it first, doesn't make Marx's "predictions" worse. He put all of these into a system and explained why capitalism would lead to such and such

And yet it didn't.

And sorry, if anyone claims that they can predict the next economic crisis, they are talking bullshit. You may be able to predict that capitalism is crisis prone, but if you claim that you can predict the exact time and place, you may as well be calculating the date of the apocalypse

Michael Hudson and Steve Keen did. They must be agents of the Revelation. The Dark Prince is coming yo.

http://www.investorhome.com/predicted.htm

Come on: show me your Marx knowledge. Prove that you've actually read Capital.

See my response to you on page 9 of the other article.

Khawaga

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on April 11, 2015

Sorry, that didn't prove much at all. A very shallow surface understanding at best.

bastarx

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by bastarx on April 11, 2015

Connor Owens

And an idea's age has nothing to do with whether it's gobbledegook. Kropotkin's ideas have largely stood the test of time and about 75-80% of them remain relevant. The same is only true for about 35% of what Marx wrote. What makes them silly and outdated is trying to fit categories and models for a fundamentally different economic regime to the one that exists today.

Kropotkin's idea of supporting a particular side in a brutal imperialist war certainly remains relevant for morons like you.

Pennoid

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Pennoid on April 12, 2015

We can think of oppression (if we want the term to have any meaning at all beyond something bad happening to me) as perhaps real restrictions on action and being. If that is the case, workers are not only oppressed, they are also exploited. They are kept from the means of production, as you point out, and thereby induced to rent themselves out, i.e. exploited. But then what is this exploitation? What characterizes it? It's not so simple that we can just place it off to one side. After all, Hilary Clinton is oppressed. Is she exploited? Kanye West is oppressed, is he exploited?

On the basis of their "oppressed state" workers are induced to work. But by saying this we say nothing about the working process, it's nature, it's operation. We go one step further than the "bourgeois" economists and thinkers, but no further.

This is where Marx begins. He takes as his fundamental premise, commodity society. A society in which individuals are all commodity owners, and through the process of exchange, they arrange the production and reproduction of human society. From this premise he unfolds what are necessary working relations between commodity owners in order for production to be carried on such, and demonstrates that even withing the parameters of this "purely bourgeois" society, exploitation is it's foundation, crisis it's recurrent theme, and class struggle it's central dynamic. Late in Vol. 1 he also points out that laborers as "commodity owners" is not a natural fact, nor was it a voluntary process. It is a violent social and political exodus from one mode of production to another. It's clear now, as such movements in nations throughout the 20th century have seen this replayed time and again where large movements of workers are incorporated into the general movement for the bourgeois to shake off the last vestiges of absolutism and feudalism. It's clear too, that no amount of rhetoric will replace a more effective and better organized global movement of the class.

Note: Marx did not think himself as the discoverer of surplus value, use v exchange value, crisis, frop, etc. These all came before him. His pioneering achievement was disentangling value from exchange value and showing/arguing that commodities in capitalism have an "intrinsic" value. Of course, this value is purely socially constructed and not a physical quality, but it is never the less intrinsic to the commodity in capitalism. Further, value has form(s), substance, and magnitude. Many argue that his value-form concept is the most specific and important distinction as a thinker.
Further note: Predicting crisis is like predicting car crashes. Are there cars? yes. Then there will be car crashes. Are we trying to coordinate the reproduction of human society not by conscious planning but by the pursuit of profit at the level of the firm? We will have crisis (which type of crisis is of course not mentioned here!).

akai

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by akai on April 12, 2015

Wow, just to think I planned to try and answer CO's question's in good faith but my questions about the actual economy of Rojava, as explained by Dr. Yusuf, were completely ignored.

Instead of addressing that question, we get the "what have you done" line that usually gets used as if it is supposed to be some KO punch ---- and usually just falls flat on its face.

Since I see that these questions are deliberately ignored, there's no point in discussing.

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 12, 2015

see that these questions are deliberately ignored, there's no point in discussing

This = most of what I've written to you guys in hope of a constructive response that doesn't just quote Marx like a robotic priest quoting the Bible whenever anyone asks about a problem.

As for Khagawa, what did you want, for me to write a 10,000 word thesis on the (lack of) relevance of Marxian economics to the world today? In an Internet comment? Wasting my entire evening? All to convince some guy who overtly lied about my position to other people here that I understood the drivel he believes in? You truly have an inflated sense of your own importance.

Kureigo-San

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Kureigo-San on April 12, 2015

I don't think you really care too much about Rojava tbh. Priority seems more about informing us we're crusty irrelevant troglodytes, and bleating like a lamb about the injustice done to you.

Serge Forward

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Serge Forward on April 12, 2015

Can't believe any of you lot are still attempting to have a meaningful discussion with this idiot. Wakey wakey, don't feed the troll.

Chilli Sauce

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 12, 2015

Connor Owens

Dear Marxist abstraction of "the working class",

What exactly have you done lately?

Ehhem...

Connor Owens

Chilli

Anyway, you ask what we're "doing" to support workers or the revolution in Rojava. I'd throw the same question right back at you, because having arguments on the internet isn't an act of solidarity

Whataboutery now is it? I didn't think even you would resort to such a weak argument.

Chilli Sauce

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 12, 2015

Marx's politics were rather shit

But good enough for the folks of Libcom to defer to him like some kind of prophet - on economics and politics...

I mean, really, just read the quoted bit that you're responding to.

Chilli Sauce

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 12, 2015

I don't see the point in trying to be nice towards a stupid ideology which led to the killing of 100 million people in the twentieth century, yet is still laughably peddled by crusty Old Left purists...

You are aware that, as anarchists, we're opposed to the supposedly Marxist states who killed all those people and, in fact, were part of the people being killed?

You're the one supporting a nation-building project. How has nationalism worked out for the past 250 years or so? Body count anyone?

Exploitation is the result of the structural inequality of bargaining power between labour and capital.

You do realize that the logical conclusion of this statement is that equal bargaining power between capital and labor could get rid of exploitation?

That said, the supporters of Rojava do claim "community consultation" on foreign investment can somehow make capital work in the favor of the revolution - so maybe you really do believe this social-democratic claptrap.

I've written to you guys in hope of a constructive response that doesn't just quote Marx like a robotic priest...

Now, I'm trying to think, has anyone actually quoted Marx on any of these threads?

My other question - which you still haven't answered - you keep going on about how Marxism is dead ideology who's inherent totalitarianism will scare off the masses. You do realize the PKK was an avowedly Marxist organisation for most of its existence? The PKK - the group you're defending - became a mass party as an explicitly Marxist organisation.

Riddle me that, sunshine.

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 12, 2015

Chilli Sauce

Can anyone actually stand being around you in real life with such egregiously smug condescension dripping from each and every thing you write? You're like the Leninist equivalent of a Daily Telegraph reader.

In any case, I debunked everything you said before about class, nationalism, Marxism, etc on the other thread (despite you ignoring it). I'm not going to waste more time repeating myself to a Marxist who's somehow convinced himself he's an anarchist.

Class struggle is important. Marx himself had a lot of good ideas. There are some bad things about Rojava that need addressing.

This brand of smug, more-radical-than-thou, colonialist, class-reductionist, privileged, masculinist, workerist, pseudo-libertarian rubbish on the other hand, I don't see much of a future for it.

STRAWMAN!!! STRAWMAN!!! Yeah, whatever.

No libertarian socialist revolution will ever happen it seems because nothing that ever happens will - in reality - ever play out in a way that follows the Marxo-anarchist script for how revolutions are "supposed" to happen. Workerist purism will be your downfall lads.

I'll end by quoting an anarchist you all so hate, David Graeber: "Defining victory in a way that it cannot possibly be achieved comes down to deciding you don't want victory".

Kureigo-San

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Kureigo-San on April 12, 2015

We, The Anarchists! by Stuart Christie is a case study of the degeneration of the CNT which followed the triumph of the idea that sacrificing principles is necessary in order to be practical and operate 'in the real world'.

Now, please don't rush to the conclusion that this is to advocate a revolutionary puritanism that doesn't engage with real life, as that is a problem. But, It's quite simple: that if you abandon your goals to pursue a more 'realistic' set of goals, you cannot upon achieving them pretend you've conquered the original goal. I think this is what you are asking us to do.

bastarx

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by bastarx on April 12, 2015

Global communism isn't possible because the great Connor Owens says so, so lets settle for tiny islands of war social democracy.

Chilli Sauce

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 12, 2015

While it's true I'm a smug bastard, this isn't even me being smug - it's just me being right.

In any case, since you've decided I'm a "Marxist" - as if that slur somehow constitutes an argument - I'm going to put this question to you a third time:

You keep going on about how Marxism is dead ideology who's inherent totalitarianism will scare off the masses. You do realize the PKK was an avowedly Marxist organisation for most of its existence? The PKK - the group you're defending - became a mass party as an explicitly Marxist organisation.

Dalia

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Dalia on April 12, 2015

I have been reading libcom pretty much daily for the last seven or eight years, and though I've never felt the need to post here, I find there is a lot of interesting debate and it's helped me shape a lot of my own ideas.
That said, this thread, and the behavior within it, is, quite frankly, disgusting.
I'm not sure how regular posters are perceiving their arguments, and this wider conversation, but from an outside view you're all coming across as total dicks. Seriously.
I don't particularly agree with Connor Owens' outlook, though I don't hold the level of hostility toward the Rojave experiment that most here seem to have, but this really does come across like a gang of mates all backing each other up, nameslinging and avoiding any real content of argument, leading to the inevitable outcome of now calling him a 'troll' when it is quite clear he simply holds different opinions to you all, and is not 'trolling'. That and accusing him on mass for such things as using strawman arguments, something that both "sides" here have clearly been guilty of to a crazy extreme - bearing in mind, again, that we are looking at a situation where one person is basically being "ganged-up-on" by a group of mates.
So that's not excusing his own shortcomings in this conversation. You should all be ashamed and embarrassed with your behavior in this thread.

Tsanuri

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Tsanuri on April 12, 2015

As a long time lurker who finds the chat on LibCom to be a pit, I'm really surprised at how civil and restrained folks are being towards Connor Owens. He is constantly throwing inaccurate terms as insults and folks are still trying to engage with the arguments at hand, albeit with increased frustration. That said I think the comment about feeding troll was accurate as they are simply blanking any of the pertinent questions being posed.

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 12, 2015

Yes, how "civil and restrained" it is to flat-out lie to others about someone's position; call them a Trotskyist, nationalist, liberal; to dogpile downvote every comment made no matter the content; to immediately take someone disagreeing with you as them being ignorant of what they're disagreeing with; to endlessly distort and deliberately misrepresent one's views; to cry "strawman!" like a mantra at the slightest whiff of your beliefs being criticised, yet intentionally caricature someone else's beliefs which (by your own admission) you don't fully understand.

If this is "civil and restrained" I'd hate to see what Marxo-anarchists are like when they're unhinged.

Chilli Sauce

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 12, 2015

So about the PKK being Marxist?

Spikymike

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Spikymike on April 12, 2015

It's actually possible to gain something useful and applicable to the modern world from Marx's insights and those of some other modern day 'marxists' as well as anarchists such as Kropotkin and indeed Bookchin. I have also derived some benefit from a critical reading of the works of others who are more enthusiastic than I towards the events in Rojava such as Graeber, Holloway and Federici, but clearly I, and some others here, have developed our ideas in a very different direction to Owen's and drawn different conclusions.

So Owen's let's just call it a draw then - I mean let's agree to say none of us 'critics' whether anarcho-syndicalist, anarcho-communist, libertarian socialist or communist, council or left communist, autonomous marxist, or any other variety of the predominant political tendencies that regularly post on this site don't as you claim 'understand you or your arguments' then perhaps you might just return the favour, show some rare humility and accept this once that you don't understand ours either and stop waisting everyones time by pissing off!

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 12, 2015

I think it's more relevant that this tread is Marxist now than the fact the PKK used to be.

It's also more relevant that people are expressing a broadly colonial outlook of Rojava in the Global North than the fact the PKK used to be nationalist (as in wanting to create a nation-state).

And it's more relevant to see what anarchistic elements can be teased out and brought to the forefront of a mass movement than trying to impose a preconceived script for how that movement should conduct itself while taking no account of local context.

akai

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by akai on April 12, 2015

Dalia, I agree that sometimes the forums here seem like a bunch of people trying to be more correct, but not all people participating critically in this discussion are males. So please don't make these type of generalizations because, for example, I really feel offended by the suggestion that women need to be polite to everybody all the time. That said, more concrete questions and arguments would be useful, but I see that the questions I asked, which I think are relevant, will be ignored.

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 12, 2015

I do understand Spikeymike. I just don't agree.
The problem, as I see it, is that you guys have trouble telling the difference.

And the same is so clearly not true in reverse; given that I wasted about ten comments telling everyone that Social Ecology is pro class struggle, pro class analysis, and pro workplace organising, only to have this echoed throughout the threat as "Connor Owens thinks class doesn't matter/class doesn't exist".

The same is largely true of the Rojava situation: not putting class/economics front-and-centre is perceived as ignoring them or not giving them due importance.

Serge Forward

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Serge Forward on April 12, 2015

Dalia

I have been reading libcom pretty much daily for the last seven or eight years

Member for 5 hours 40 minutes.

radicalgraffiti

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by radicalgraffiti on April 12, 2015

If you understand why do you keep referring to class as a self identity?

Chilli Sauce

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 12, 2015

Chilli Sauce

So about the PKK being Marxist?

Ehhem.

Black Badger

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Black Badger on April 12, 2015

Still not a Marxist...

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 12, 2015

If you understand why do you keep referring to class as a self identity?

I'm speaking in the context of social-political subjectivity, not material/economic reality. Of course class exists as a real thing and has a material force in shaping social consciousness and the praxis of struggle. What I was discussing is the fact that most people in the world do not define their relation to the world in terms of their economic function within capitalism (as workers).

Most would agree with this simple observation, but where we differ (I think) is that Marxists/workerists see this as a bad thing in need of being remedied, that people should in fact come to think of themselves as workers first and foremost, as this is necessary in order to achieve social transformation; which is conceived as being primarily (though not exclusively) economic in character.

The Social Ecological view is that people would better conceive of themselves as agents of the social struggle simply as the people first and foremost, as this would be a means of unifying struggles against all different kinds of hierarchy and domination - class-based as well as those not tied down to just economic class - (while still ruling out any kind of cross-class alliances) with the goal of creating democratised communities United with self-managed workplaces.

So the form that social struggle should take is better thought of as "class-struggle-plus" not a dissolution of class as a crucial category among every other hierarchy.

Chilli Sauce

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 12, 2015

I think it's more relevant that this tread is Marxist now than the fact the PKK used to be.

Wait...this just sunk in.

Are you seriously suggesting the supposed political character of a random internet thread is more important than the decades-long political legacy of an organisation leading a revolution you support.

WHAT?!!!

Chilli Sauce

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 12, 2015

we differ (I think) is that Marxists/workerists see this as a bad thing in need of being remedied, that people should in fact come to think of themselves as workers first and foremost, as this is necessary in order to achieve social transformation; which is conceived as being primarily (though not exclusively) economic in character.

Well, maybe you should deal with your presumptions and you might be able to engage people on libcom in a halfway productive manner.

Pennoid

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Pennoid on April 12, 2015

EDIT: NVM don't feed the trollssss

Kureigo-San

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Kureigo-San on April 12, 2015

It's really something the way that every second libcom lurker-turned-member imagines us all to be a gang of browbeating scoundrels, even though we often disagree with each other on a whole host of serious topics.

Anyway, Chilli and akai still have their very good questions looming..

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 12, 2015

maybe you should deal with your presumptions and you might be able to engage people on libcom in a halfway productive manner.

Look who's talking.

When folks pointed out this-or-that was inaccurate with regard to my comments about their positions, I modified what I was saying.

You on the other hand make not only make (false) presumption after presumption about Social Ecology and its relation to Rojava, but when the flaws in your presumptions are pointed out, you ignore them and continue attacking the caricature you've concocted; in the most condescending and smug manner you can manage.

I have a strong feeling all your cries of "strawman!" are just projection.

Dalia

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Dalia on April 12, 2015

Tanuri:

Connor is not the only one "throwing inaccurate terms as insults", and I'm not defending him doing that, but I think you can see a clear change following the progression of the "conversation". It is simply not true to say that everyone else is acting "civil and restrained", come on.
Likewise, he isn't the only one blanking questions. Yeah, he might well be doing that, but singling him out as unique in that matter, when half the people here are doing the same, is somewhat peculiar. I hate the way in forums people feel they can throw around "troll" just to silence disagreement or whatever.

Akai:

I never said anything about the gender of anyone in my post. I can only imagine you misread where I typed "mates" as "males", and two others apparently (due to the upvotes on your post). I don't think gender has anything to do with this. Also, being female, trust me, I'd also be strongly offended by any notion that women have to be polite, or any of that nonsense, but nobody is making any such claim.
I guess that's somewhat characteristic for how people seem to be reading the content of posts in this thread.

Serge Forward:

Yes, member for 5 hours and 40 minutes. Did you read the part in my post where I said I never really felt the need to post here, despite reading it? I know plenty of other people who read this site, without making accounts. I don't like posting in forums. Look, I have taken a lot of good from this site over the years, including discussions involving most the people in this thread, and have nothing personal against any of you, have respected your insight and discussions in the past, so please less of the cheap shots. That said, yeah, as I said, I think how people are acting in this thread is embarrasing, rude and shitty.

Kureigo-San:

If you are referring to me, when you mention "libcom lurker-turned-member", well no, I don't imagine you all to be a "gang of browbeating scoundrels". I know you often disagree with each other, etc. I read the site, and the forums, a lot. I was simply talking about the behavior in "this" thread. Ffs, that is precisely why I found this so unpalateable.

Agent of the I…

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Agent of the I… on April 12, 2015

Connor Owens

The Social Ecological view is that people would better conceive of themselves as agents of the social struggle simply as the people first and foremost, as this would be a means of unifying struggles against all different kinds of hierarchy and domination - class-based as well as those not tied down to just economic class - (while still ruling out any kind of cross-class alliances) with the goal of creating democratised communities United with self-managed workplaces.

Look, we know what you are saying (at least I think I do), that you do not support class collaboration, that you do not reject the class struggle, that you seriously believe in 'unifying struggles against all different kinds of hierarchy and domination'. I do not doubt that you believe in these things.

The problem is that you confuse revolutionary theory (be it 'anarchism', 'marxism', 'libertarian municipalism', 'social ecology', etc) as simply a view of how a revolution should unfold. Theory X says that this is what is to be done, and who does it. Theory X is supported, for example, by a Graeber (for example). Graeber, an observer, sees in 'Rojava' the application of theory X, which in turn, is supposedly confirming the validity of said theory. Here, what that theory would mean in practice is confused as to what's being carried out over there, regardless of what it would mean for Graeber, how it would inform his own actions. It seems to me, this is the error made by all of the 'cheerleaders', and why they are incapable of understanding the critical perspectives (varied among themselves) provided on this topic.

So when I asked you what a "trans-class movement" would mean in practice, your typical response is to cite numerous examples, past and present, including in 'Rojava', of people forming democratic assemblies/cooperatives/communities, etc. That's not really what I am asking. Your not really explaining your theory.

When I wrote:

Just congregate the people into directly democratic structures, and everything else will just automatically resolve itself. So yes, it includes class struggle and all the other social oppressions he claims he is concerned about, taking place in a new venue.

As "bad" as it may sound, that's really how I do understand your theory, and how I would explain it back to you. Your 'social ecology' only amounts to the theorizing of a "trans-class" framework for the political administration of competing interest groups, including classes. If you could prove otherwise, do so. But so far, I do not see anything, in these threads, that suggests that there's anything else to it. And I think you'll experience immense difficultly doing so with libertarian municipalism/communalism/democratic confederalism/social ecology.

If you feel the need to have to defend these 'philosophies', then you'll just continue to be a cheerleader, doing exactly what the cheerleaders do; homogenising 'Rojava', glossing over all the conflicts/tensions/differences within 'Rojava', defend the PKK, because that organisation claims it embraces this or that ideology.

Point is, don't be like the cheerleader.

Serge Forward

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Serge Forward on April 12, 2015

Dahlia, I'll give you benefit of the doubt and agree that maybe that was a cheap shot on my part. So I apologise for that. That said, I do think Connor Owens is a troll, and a very good one at that. I also think that, while some Libcom regulars (me included) have given him/her short shrift, I reckon most have shown levels of tolerance above and beyond the call of duty. Anyway, opinions innit. Welcome to the discussions, Dahlia.

Pennoid

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Pennoid on April 13, 2015

Thanks Chili, but it's lost forever now. LOST TO THE DOMAIN OF THE TROLL!

I really wanted to say "OUTMARXED" at some point. Felt like it would really set someone off. So now I've said it, but without any context.

Agent of the I…

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Agent of the I… on April 13, 2015

@ Pennoid

That's unfair. I didn't even get to read it.

Kureigo-San

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Kureigo-San on April 13, 2015

Connor, could you put your shrill indignation aside for a minute and answer the pertinent questions Chilli and akai have asked you.

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 13, 2015

The problem is that you confuse revolutionary theory (be it 'anarchism', 'marxism', 'libertarian municipalism', 'social ecology', etc) as simply a view of how a revolution should unfold. Theory X says that this is what is to be done, and who does it. Theory X is supported, for example, by a Graeber (for example). Graeber, an observer, sees in 'Rojava' the application of theory X, which in turn, is supposedly confirming the validity of said theory. Here, what that theory would mean in practice is confused as to what's being carried out over there

Wrong. The fact that I support social ecology (but not libertarian municipalism or Communalism as I tried to point out earlier) rather than the traditional Marxist or syndicalist approaches is not why I support Rojava. I would support it (critically) even if it were organised on more of a classical class strugglist line better to your liking. My reasons for giving critical support have to do with the fact that:

1. It is the first social mobilisation to happen in years that has libertarian socialist potential. Whether it actualises that potential in contingent on what happens externally (US and ISIS) as well as what choices are made by the PKK, PYD, and the democratic assemblies at the grassroots. It may fail due to either external or internal factors but I see possibilities there where few existed before.

2. This is crucially a movement that has taken off in the Middle East, a region associated in the west with religious fanaticism, theocracy, and patriarchy which is organising itself along secular, democratic, and feminist lines. It's existence demonstrates both to the west and to the rest of the Middle East that another option is possible beyond western imperialism, neo-colonialism, and the Islamist reaction to the above. At the very least it represents a break in collective consciousness in terms of what's possible. The Overton Window has widened.

In a comment several pages ago I posted a quote from Errico Malatesta about how no revolution can ever be fully or even mostly anarchist and socialist, because it's simply not possible to get a majority of people singing from the same hymnsheet. We must "therefore content ourselves with making the revolution as much "ours" as possible". In other words, we must try to push whatever mass movements for freedom, equality, and justice in an anarchistic direction from within and (when we're not present) from without.

The same is true of the recuperated enterprises movement and neighbourhood assemblies in Argentina. I doubt most of those who took over the factories and hotels they were fired from were waving red and black flags or had read anything by Rudolf Rocker. They just wanted their jobs back and expressed that common yearning to run their workplaces themselves instead of taking orders from bosses. Also, as a side note, the folks who took over the Zanon ceramics factory, when fighting off eviction, chanted "Zanon belongs to the people!", not the workers. The people/multitude is a much more inclusive subjectivity than "the workers" or "the proletariat". But I digress.

The same is true for the Zapatista autonomous municipalities, which is a kind of indiginous national liberation movement as much as an economic fight against neoliberalism. Indiginous Mayans have been denied their unique identities for centuries and subjugated not only by the Mexican ruling classes but by non-elites of European decent.

The same is even true of the free software movement and campaigns against intellectual property to free the digital commons and eliminate the ridiculous artificial scarcity created by those laws to protect the state-protected regime of capital and to prevent the technology from becoming democratised.

The same is true for any mass movement or even scattered acts of rebellion, whether they have a material/economic basis or merely an ideological basis. Some have more anarchistic potential than others, but the point is to tease out what potentialities it may have already and bring them to the forefront, even if they don't call themselves anarchist or even socialist. We can't just wait around until the material conditions are right or enough people have read Marx or Rocker (whose ideas are out of date and inaccurate anyway). We need to place our energy wherever there is the most potential for change; and I don't exactly see much potential in isolated laundromat strikes in the Global North when compared with a social mobilisation involving hundreds of thousands of people setting up hundreds of directly-democratic associations and worker self-managed enterprises.

Just congregate the people into directly democratic structures, and everything else will just automatically resolve itself. So yes, it includes class struggle and all the other social oppressions he claims he is concerned about, taking place in a new venue.
As "bad" as it may sound, that's really how I do understand your theory, and how I would explain it back to you

Yes, and your understanding is completely wrong.

I'm not going to waste more of my time correcting your ignorance about it and repeating myself over and over only to be (deliberately or not) caricatured or misrepresented even further. Thus far, while others have at least been willing to engage, you in particular have been nothing but nasty, spiteful, and unwilling to even educate yourself about other points of view.

If you want to know about social ecology, read a book by a social ecologist - as I have done with traditional class struggle, syndicalism, and Marxism; ideologies with which I disagree, and knew I would disagree with, but still took the time to learn about anyway because I know they still have a lot of good ideas in them and motivate a lot of important movements.

Read Murray Bookchin himself (though avoid his later writings), Takis Fotopoulos, John P. Clark, Janet Biehl, Brian Tokar, Graham Purchace, or Brian Morris - the last two of which represent more of a class struggle perspective themselves but from a social ecologist standpoint.

akai

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by akai on April 13, 2015

OK... you know, I see a not-so-funny thing here. I was basically challenged to write a blueprint about how a workers' revolution should look a bit before. Part of the "challenge" was some claims by CO that people like me never say HOW we are gonna do what we claim to want, so, therefore, if you take CO's logic, we are all full of shit.

On the other hand, I asked, not once but a couple of times some concrete questions about the nature of the economic ideas being proposed in Rojava. There were some texts that suggest employment has to be created, that private property and enterprise should be left in tact and, presumably, inherited and current property will be respected.

Instead of either answering if he knows about this, or discussing the problems of this, instead there is now this "we've gotta support the revolution" stuff, saying, very vaguely, that we've got to push towards anarchism from inside and outside.

Without being very specific about how that is to be done, and without really looking into the success or failure of that approach in other situations, we've got an approach that is not very concrete at all and those who support it having tantrums at other people for not showing ready-made blueprints.

Getting beyond that, I think it is time for a concrete question and that is whether CO is one of those anarchists that think anarchism can be achieved while retaining private business with waged labour and while retaining the fruits of inherited wealth? Further, it would be interesting to hear ideas for how money will be abolished while at the same time they are calling for investment and will presumably retain some imports and pay for infrastructural improvements. And I would like to know what the system for the distribution and consumption of goods produced will be, who will be in charge of these decisions and whether this idea includes consumption of goods produced outside Rojava or not.

I suppose that if people do not have good ideas for this in Rojava, the "revolution" will by a series of economic reforms that won't move into the direction of anarchism any time soon. But we all saw this a few times already in previous revolutions.

Chilli Sauce

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 13, 2015

The thing is Owen, if you'd posted something like that from the get-go, there might have been scope for some discussion.

Instead, your first-ever post on libcom begins, and I quote:

Clearly the PYD should have refused all US aid, along with any kind of strategic alliance against ISIS, and just let the Islamic fascists slaughter them. Better they adhere to ironclad ideological purity than make compromises that would end with fewer people getting killed.

And then you had the gall to wonder why I called you a douche.

Flint

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 13, 2015

Connor,

Could you stop using Marxist as a pejorative or even a descriptor. There are Marxists who are opposed to Rojava. There are Marxists who are indifferent to Rojava. There are Marxists who support Rojava. Latest well known Marxist to declare support for Rojava is David Harvey. I'm sure there are other Marxists and non-Marxists who also don't like what Harvey writes.

Marx wrote a lot of things and people often and pick and chose what parts of Marx they like.

Many self-identified Marxists have supported more authoritarian revolutions, just as they have supported revolutions with less workers self-management than is currently being described in Rojava in some statements and evaluations.

I'm not a Marxist, but there are parts of Marx where I have been in agreement and parts where I disagree. Marx, I think, could say something similar. So could Bookchin. So could Ocalan.

It would be better to stick with describing various actions and policies in Rojava than looking to assign labels to either Rojava or anyone talking about it. Akai raises good questions about private property, inherited wealth, wage labor, currency, foreign investment, distribution and consumption. These are good questions. We have heard contradictory things.

This isn't so abstract, but something the folks in Rojava have to deal with both daily and long term. Recent news is that the YPG/YPJ/Burkan Al-Firat seized the large Lafarge cement plant. In addition to being strategically significant location in the fight with Daesh, it is very important piece of capital. "The Lafarge Cement Company was founded nearly seven years ago, and was considered one of the largest industrial investments in Syria, as it used to cover more than a third of the local market’s need of cement". The Syrian army had previously given it up and the PYD had held it before Daesh took it. "The factory produces 2.6 million tons of cement a year and constitutes the biggest foreign investment in Syria outside of the oil sector." Also, in terms of oil, most of the oil economy in Syria is in Rojava. Its significant also because this was a private foreign investment in Syria's economy in a sector that was largely state-owned. "Syria's first-ever private syndication to finance a cement plant, a joint venture between France's Lafarge and local businessmen costing $680m." Lafarge is a major transnational corporation with a revenue of $15 billion Euros a year. Before the civil war, the Syrian cement production workers worked considerable overtime but there was still a gap in demand and cement was even smuggled into Syria.

What Tev-Dem does with the Lafarge cement plant will tell us a lot about its over all economic program in terms of workers self-management, local control of the economy, wages, production, distribution, foreign investment, etc... there are some folks who wonder if Tev-Dem will pay Lafarge and take the plant. There are some that think Tev-Dem will true to cut a deal with Lafarge to own and operate the plant. There are some that think Tev-Dem can just take it from Lafarge without compensation by "force majeure".

MAP

Chilli Sauce

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 13, 2015

That's interesting stuff Flint. Do keep us updated.

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 13, 2015

Akai

As you can clearly see in the first comment I wrote to you, that long comment I wrote was adressd to the first part of your post (about what anarcho-syndicalists don't want) not the second part (the economic questions).

I was actually planning to write a response to you that specifically focused on economics, but as you can see I got quite visibly caught up in simply having to correct lies and inaccuracies about the positions I hold because so many of the people here are so dead set against what I'm espousing - despite knowing absolutely nothing about social ecology - that they feel the need to grind it into the ground.

You then wrote another comment saying you were upset that I had not answered your questions on economics already, so I basically assumed the exchange was over. Now you come back out of nowhere to demand economic information again despite still not being willing to lay out the specifics of how an anarcho-syndicalist here-to-there strategy is supposed to work.

You seem to be very good at demanding other people answer detailed, time-consuming, logistical questions but not very good at answering them yourself.

To answer one issue briefly (as I don't see much point in providing a descriptive analysis to someone who's not willing to provide one themself) you're all being incredibly naive if you think any society can just go straight to libertarian communism (as in, no states, no markets, no money).

Full libertarian communism of that kind would only ever be possible on a large scale in the context of a future post-scarcity society based on (1) high technology with a large degree of labour automated away, (2) a relatively high degree of local and regional self-sufficiency in food, manufacturing, and other products. On the scale of a small, self-sufficient community, there are fewer problems. But on the scale of an entire country or region that has not achieved even national self-reliance, even something as simple as accounting and allocation of basic food stuffs would prove a nightmare. So it's only possible in the very long term when some essential technological and productive conditions have been met.

Until then, we will inevitably need some system of incomes and prices for goods to assist will allocation, whether in the form of real money or some kind of (presumably electronic) labour voucher/credit points system. Gradually, as the advance of technology makes producing food and manufactures easier and more localised, then more sectors of the economy can be run on a free communist basis as one set-up phases into the other. This will take years. Maybe even decades if they aren't helped along from without.

To attempt to abolish money this soon (and cut off all possibility for external investment) you are basically asking for widespread famine and starvation in addition to being killed by Islamofascists. You are asking for the Rojavans to basically do willingly what the Khmer Rouge did by force.

Flint

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 13, 2015

Connor Owens

To attempt to abolish money this soon (and cut off all possibility for external investment) you are basically asking for widespread famine and starvation in addition to being killed by Islamofascists. You are asking for the Rojavans to basically do willingly what the Khmer Rouge did by force.

It is my understanding that Rojava, before the war, was an agricultural exporter to the rest of Syria and internationally.

"Rojava is considered the breadbasket of Syria, cradled where it is between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The region’s major agricultural products are sheep, grain, and cotton. It was the only agricultural region in Syria to have a thriving export business prior to the war and the resulting embargo... The Rojava region sits on the famous Mesopotamian Plain, between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, and is the oldest agricultural center in the world. Until 2011, northern Syria exported grain, cotton, and meat to its neighbors and Europe and was the country’s largest producer of oil. Plentiful water from the region’s rivers allowed for cement factories and other medium industrial plants to be built in the area in the 1970s and 1980s. "

A Mountain River Has Many Bends

"we are trying to send the message that we can govern ourselves and that we have no need of outside help. In this way we are producing our own vegetables. The regime consciously forbid us from planting anything other than lentils, chickpeas and wheat. The goal of this was to bring to the people to a status of permanent dependence on the outside. Whereas the lands of Cizîre are very fertile. Many different fruits and vegetables can be grown. We are trying to show this. And on this subject there is a great sensibility among the people.”

source

The adviser expressed satisfaction that even though 70 percent of Rojava’ s resources must go to the war effort, the economy still manages meet everyone’s basic needs. They strive for self-sufficiency, because they must: the crucial fact is that Rojava exists under an embargo. It can neither export to nor import from its immediate neighbor to the north, Turkey, which would like to see the whole Kurdish project disappear. Even the KRG, fellow Kurds but economically beholden to Turkey, observes the embargo, although more cross-border KRG-Rojava trade is occurring now, in the wake of political developments. But the country still lacks resources. That does not dampen their spirit: “If there is only bread, then we all have a share,” the adviser told us...

We visited an economics academy and economic cooperatives: a sewing cooperative in Derik, making uniforms for the defense forces; a cooperative greenhouse, growing cucumbers and tomatoes; a dairy cooperative in Rimelan, where a new shed was under construction. The Kurdish areas are the most fertile parts of Syria, home its abundant wheat supply, but the Baath regime had deliberately kept the area pre-industrial, a source of raw materials. Hence wheat was cultivated but could not be milled into flour. We visited a mill, newly constructed since the revolution, improvised from local materials. It now provides flour for the bread consumed Cizire, whose residents get three loaves a day.

My impressions of Rojava, Jane Biehl

The main economic activity in Cizire is agriculture. With its fertile soil and good growing conditions, the canton is rich in wheat and barley. Before the revolution it was the breadbasket of Syria. Notably, the Baath regime declined to build processing facilities in Rojava, even flour mills. The self-government built one only recently, at Tirbespiye, and now provides flour for the whole canton. Bread remains the staff of life—each household gets three loaves of bread a day, which the self-government provides at 40 percent below cost.

For the last two years the self-government has supplied seeds to the farmers, and diesel for their machinery, so they can continue to cultivate their lands. The self-government has also created local companies to develop infrastructure and to build roads. And it finances the refugee camps in the Kurdish areas. Humanitarian institutions are present there too, but only symbolically—they don’t finance electricity, water, or education, because Rojava is not internationally recognized; the agencies have to work through the KRG and Damascus, which doesn’t allow it. So Rojava must provide for them. The result is an economy of survival. Electricity and clean water are in limited supply.

How are people paid?

Some Rojavans earn wages, but many work on a voluntary basis; still others just make their living, say, from a cow. “We consume bread together,” Hemo said, “and if there is no bread, we do not get bread.”

Still, at the top of the economic development agenda is the creation of cooperatives, in Rojava’s “community economy.” “Our political project and our economic project are the same,” said Abdurrahman Hemo, an adviser for economic development in Cizire canton. For two years Cizire has been promoting cooperativism through academies, seminars, and community discussions, and is building them in different sectors. Most of the cooperatives are agricultural, but others are springing up in trades and construction.

Testimonials from a revolution in Rojava

Sighing a couple of times, Mother Fatma also speaks of how longing for the old days: “In the old days barter and exchange was one of the beauties of life. We could exchange eggs for bread, or wheat for oil. There wasn’t all this money.”

Cooperative Living Comes To Life In Rojava

They do need a fertilizer factory to be self-sufficient. Presumably, they'll need to keep their farm machinery repaired and even expand it.

But if they are cut off from global capital (which they have been since the start of the revolution), they will not starve.

While a great many places in the world if cut off entirely from global capital would starve--Rojava is not one of them. Their ability to feed themselves actually makes it more likely for the revolution to succeed. That a large part of the revolution was expropriating the state-owned agricultural land and turning into the commons; and then setting up self-managed worker-cooperatives to farm that land is also probably the most significant socialist accomplishment of the revolution.

Flint

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 13, 2015

Connor Owens

communism of that kind would only ever be possible on a large scale in the context of a future post-scarcity society based on (1) high technology with a large degree of labour automated away,

Who is the vulgar historical materialist determinist Marxist now? (and yes, I'm a total hypocrite because I just posted on not calling each other Marxists as a pejorative. Sue me.)

Connor Owens

(2) a relatively high degree of local and regional self-sufficiency in food, manufacturing, and other products. On the scale of a small, self-sufficient community, there are fewer problems. But on the scale of an entire country or region that has not achieved even national self-reliance, even something as simple as accounting and allocation of basic food stuffs would prove a nightmare. So it's only possible in the very long term when some essential technological and productive conditions have been met... Until then, we will inevitably need some system of incomes and prices for goods to assist will allocation, whether in the form of real money or some kind of (presumably electronic) labour voucher/credit points system. Gradually, as the advance of technology makes producing food and manufactures easier and more localised, then more sectors of the economy can be run on a free communist basis as one set-up phases into the other.

Even though the USSR wasn't communism (but a centrally planned state-capitalist economy with no workers self-management), their use of rubles was more like food stamps. "Only a limited set of products could be freely bought, thus the ruble had a role similar to trading stamps or food stamps. The currency was not internationally exchangeable and its export was illegal." Someone with more knowledge than me about the use of the Soviet ruble might wish to comment and counter the old "socialist calculation problem". I can say that western claims that Soviet agriculture was inefficient and dependent upon imports from the west--are largely falling for propaganda. What ultimately caused imports into the Soviet economy for agriculture was the rising demand among the Soviet population for meat (and a price control)--a very inefficient food product.

radicalgraffiti

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by radicalgraffiti on April 13, 2015

[quote=Connor Owens]

If you understand why do you keep referring to class as a self identity?

I'm speaking in the context of social-political subjectivity, not material/economic reality. Of course class exists as a real thing and has a material force in shaping social consciousness and the praxis of struggle. What I was discussing is the fact that most people in the world do not define their relation to the world in terms of their economic function within capitalism (as workers).

Connor Owens

Most would agree with this simple observation, but where we differ (I think) is that Marxists/workerists see this as a bad thing in need of being remedied, that people should in fact come to think of themselves as workers first and foremost, as this is necessary in order to achieve social transformation; which is conceived as being primarily (though not exclusively) economic in character.

i doubt any of the regular posters on this forum think members of the working class should make that into an identity.
But it is necessary that they recognizes that they are working class, otherwise how do they oppose those cross class alliances you say you oppose.

Pennoid

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Pennoid on April 13, 2015

Wouldn't their being the breadbasket of a country of which they have historically been a minority group make international intervention and steamrolling of the revolution that much more likely?

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 13, 2015

Flint

Yes, Marx himself did have a lot of good ideas, as do many self-described Marxists.

My issue is not with the man himself or with individual thinkers who happen to follow his framework but with Marxism; the ideology-cum-religion that his and Engels's ideas have become systematised into and followed rigorously even 150 years later when the world is so clearly different. People keep trying to squint and see his concepts as still relevant and workable in drastically altered circumstances, trying to mentally rearrange reality to fit the theory instead of ditching the theory to fit the reality.

Marx himself knew he was a man of the 19th century and that what he was writing was particular to the given economic and political situations he found himself in. The same is not true of most Marxism. If Marx's body of work had simply been incorporated into the wide river of socialist thought like any other theorist, we could have taken what turned out to be right and easily discarded what was irrelevant, instead, what we've ended up with is a multilayered dogma with very little hope of being turned into anything libertarian - despite the best attempts of many who would otherwise gravitate towards anarchism.

There's also the problem - which many anarchists and "libertarian" Marxists fall into - of thinking Marx's economics can be separated off to one side of his rather nasty authoritarian politics. They can't. They usually take him at his word in thinking that Marx's economic project was entirely scientific/analytical instead of covertly ethical/normative. His authoritarian politics are coded all throughout his economics and lead him into some of the weakest areas of the theory.

Obviously there's the problem Shimshon and Bitchler have pointed out of segregating the economic realm from the social-political realm, but also the problem of patriarchy and how it infected his thinking on the productive process and the creation of value. He prioritised male manual labour over what later autonomist theorists have (inaccurately) termed "immaterial" labour - historically done mostly by women. For example, in Marx's own day there were more female domestic house servants in Londan than there were male factory workers.nTerming this "reproduction" when it is in fact just as much a form of production as agriculture or manufacturing. It's "products" (normally other human beings) may be manifested in a non-tangible form, but are still very much embedded in a material process, just as so-called material production is in turn imbedded in an ideational process.

Autonomists like Hardt-Negri, Beradi, and Frederici have tried to incorporate this crucial feminist and ideational process into Marxist and historical materialist theory, but really it ends up becoming like trying to square a circle. It doesn't help that they keep scouring through Marx's writings trying to find some quote or another to prove that the man himself had forseen what they had arrived at independently.

This twin flaw - segregation of "the economic" into a separate sphere and failure to incorporate ideational labour into an intertwined material/ideal process of value creation - has led to some of the most vulgar forms of economism by those who take after him, of a kind he would no doubt have disapproved of.

Also objectionable is the (yes) deterministic, stagist conception of historical development and the veneration of the proletariat as historical agents of social change - even when (as time goes on) Marxists and syndicalists add one group after another to the category "proletariat" to the extent that it now might as well be synonymous with the concept of "the people", but without the needless reduction to outmoded class categories.

And sorry to bring up Bookchin yet again, but he was correct on how wrong Marx was to see the developmental trajectory of capitalism. All of the classical break-down theories of capitalism ended up being proven totally false. The proletariat ended up becoming accommodated to the capitalist work routine, not radicalised by it. Seeing, from a 19th century vantage point, the proletariat replace the bourgeoisie as the bourgeois themselves replaced the aristocracy as the dominant class ended up being wishful thinking instead of scientific analysis based on objective contradictions within capitalism. The proletariat as a class have become the counterpart to the bourgeois, not their antagonists.

Anarchism has always been weakest when closest to either Marxism at one extreme (workerism) or individualism at the other (lifestylism). Lifestylism gives up on the concept of social struggle in favour of personal rebellion. This kind of Marxo-anarchism I've been talking about - which Malatesta warned about over 100 years ago - tries to subordinate the broad conception of social struggle to primarily economic struggle. This was a problem even with the classical anarcho-syndicalist unions like the CNT-FAI, who's memebers at the grassroots of the organisation had to practically drag the rank-and-file kicking and screaming into the Spanish Revolution and away from mere economic reformism.

And even if this new version of class struggle really is so broad in its width, and really does try to blend/incorporate economic struggles with race, gender, sexual, national, and ecological concerns, (though I'm not convinced) well then it's so close to the social ecologist form of social struggle that they're virtually indistinguishable.

The only difference seems to be that social ecologists want a primarily community-directed economy (by popular assemblies and geographic confederations) while anarcho-syndicalists want a primarily worker-directed economy (by worker councils and syndicate federations).

radicalgraffiti

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by radicalgraffiti on April 13, 2015

Connor Owens

Full libertarian communism of that kind would only ever be possible on a large scale in the context of a future post-scarcity society based on (1) high technology with a large degree of labour automated away, (2) a relatively high degree of local and regional self-sufficiency in food, manufacturing, and other products.

i dont see why local and regional self sufficiency would be at all necessary for communism, obviously there would be no point growing food further away than it needed to be, but i don't see how the distance between the growing and consumption of food is a factor in a communist society.

Connor Owens

On the scale of a small, self-sufficient community, there are fewer problems. But on the scale of an entire country or region that has not achieved even national self-reliance, even something as simple as accounting and allocation of basic food stuffs would prove a nightmare. So it's only possible in the very long term when some essential technological and productive conditions have been met.

Until then, we will inevitably need some system of incomes and prices for goods to assist will allocation, whether in the form of real money or some kind of (presumably electronic) labour voucher/credit points system. Gradually, as the advance of technology makes producing food and manufactures easier and more localised, then more sectors of the economy can be run on a free communist basis as one set-up phases into the other. This will take years. Maybe even decades if they aren't helped along from without.

This sounds a hell of a lot like marx leinist ideas about stages and socialism in one country

Flint

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 13, 2015

Pennoid

Wouldn't their being the breadbasket of a country of which they have historically been a minority group make international intervention and steamrolling of the revolution that much more likely?

Maybe, maybe not. They'll want to export their excess agricultural product, no use in it going to waste. Folks will still want it. Damascus can get it form them, or get their food elsewhere. Being a bread basket and the major oil supplier in Syria will make Assad and the Ba'ath want to get it back under their control--and any other faction that comes up on the top will want it aswell.

Turkey has less interest in Rojava's agriculture. They have their own. Turkey is the world's largest flour exporter.

But at the very least, it'll make it much more difficult for the Rojavans to be starved into compliance. Thats an important advantage. They might live poorly without connections to global capital, but they can live. This puts them in a better bargaining position. They also, if they are careful, should not give up that advantage of self-sufficiency for some sort of IMF structural adjustment plan that would demand their economy be designed around exporting cotton but importing food.

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 13, 2015

Flint

They do need a fertilizer factory to be self-sufficient. Presumably, they'll need to keep their farm machinery repaired and even expand it.

But if they are cut off from global capital (which they have been since the start of the revolution), they will not starve.

But by abolishing all money straight away as a unit of account and method of efficiently allocating production and distribution across a wide area they will indeed starve, due to simple incompetence as they try to coordinate day-to-day economic activity within the complexities of a system in-between capitalist-statism/feudalism and stateless communism.

And even if, best possible case scenario, they wouldn't starve as a result of abolishing money and cutting themselves off from external capital investment, how would they develop the region? What about rebuilding infrastructure after the conflict with ISIS? What about their aspiration to turn the Rojava urban centres into eco-cities? What about even arts/entertainment? What about serving a a successful shining example of participatory democracy and libertarian socialism to the rest of the Middle East as an alternative to both neocolonialism and Islamism?

They'd basically end up with self-managed North Korean Juche.

Who is the vulgar historical materialist determinist Marxist now?

This isn't materialist determinism it's a simple case of accounting problems. The Khmer Rouge tried to abolish money, become self-sufficient, and radically decentralise production straight away in another largely agrarian region and it led to widespread starvation and famine. I take it you don't want to see a self-induced holocaust as a result of sheer failure to take account of economic realities, no?

Chilli Sauce

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 13, 2015

Connor,

I don't know why this constantly devolves into a discussion of Marx (actually I do: you constantly try to paint your critics as "Marxists" instead of engaging with the substance of their critique), but I really don't think you understand Marx that well - certainly not production and reproduction nor what Marx meant when he called Kapital a critique of political economy.

Nor do you understand what most of libcom's anarchists take away from Marx, be it his analysis of capitalism or his politics - which, by the way, was not some static thing immune from analysis.

So unless you can prove that Marx's core economic supposition - that the generalized commodity form is the is the basis of capitalist society - is somehow inherently authoritarian, I'm afraid your statement that Marx's economics can't be separated from his politics is just bunk.

I mean, Jesus, you're the one bleating on about Bakunin. You are aware that Bakunin openly borrowed from Marx? Is he now irrevocably stained by Marx's authoritarianism?

As to the idea that anarcho-syndicalists have extended the definition of the proletarian to incorporate "the people" - this is the exact reason people keep accusing you of advocating cross-class alliances.

And, if that truly is the case, why let the debate get so caught up in semantics? Why insist that "the people" is some superior term when you (apparently) already know that what we mean by the proletariat is what you mean by the people?

Flint

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 13, 2015

Connor Owens

The Khmer Rouge tried to

Really, just stop. That's the socialist equivalent of Godwin's law.

Pennoid

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Pennoid on April 13, 2015

Seriously, this is like a crash-course in everything fucking abysmal about new-left politics. The only thing you haven't made explicit, is how the first world is paid out of superprofits gained from third world exploitation, and how we need to surround the global city. But I'm confident that you'll get there.

I'm kind of at a loss as to where to begin. I mean.

Technology; Marx made some of the best contributions to a theory of how technological change fits into social change; and specifically how it fits into capitalism.

Determinism: This is just dumb. Men make their own history, but not as they please; not with self-made circumstances.

Political-Economic: This is actually a division set up by capitalist social relations. Marx takes it as a point of departure at certain points, then spends most of his book trying to highlight the interaction of the two spheres. So does a whole school of Marxist historians, the Political Marxists, not to mention state-theory historians in general.

To be a proletarian, one simply has to lack access to the means of producing their necessities. Peasants do not fit this, because they have direct access to the land. So they can produce their own necessities. The working class must work for a capitalist, in order to get a wage which they exchange for necessities. It's basically that simple. That's the "raw-material" labor-power in Marx's framework, as I've pointed out like a million times. It has not changed. In fact, a lot of Marxists, and I think Marx himself, pointed out that capitalist pay a total wage for all the work in society, and that there are people who do not work directly for capitalists, but are dependent on this wage. for example, partners that live at home with a working person but do not work; the disabled, those on social security, etc. Marx says in capital, that it's basically the unemployed and employed, because capitalism has to have a starving but not totally dead mass of un-tapped labor with which to draw in order to operate.

Housework: Again, this does not create value, in the capitalist sense, that does not mean it is not a part of the process, or does not furnish wealth. As Marx pointed out, wealth can come from nature, use-value can come from a lot of different sources. But a specific set of social relations are required for value to be in play. So much of the new left sucks at value-theory, sorry to say. Kill your grandpa-maoisty idols.

"Marx the man" this is, again horseshit. He was specifically trying to abstract to a point where the inner logic of capitalist social relations could be identified, where it's core dynamics could be placed in stark relief. And that is what so many of us find useful. I think he did a pretty good job of getting the fundamentals down, but it's readily observable that once you get past some of the aged language. But you can't be bothered to read a book about economics when pronouncing the next big social revolution in human history.

Nobody here "venerates" work. Or the existence of the working class. I can understand how you misinterpret that (sort of, I mean, you obviously have never read marx, in spite of claiming otherwise) but our statements of fact (the only class in capitalist society that has a material interest in getting rid of capitalism is the working class) sounds like we think the working class is all powerful. I can't think of a better way to phrase it right now. But suffice it to say that in the process of getting rid of capitalism the working class abolishes itself, as a class. In fact, what you presume to be the starting point, in the here and now, is what we argue cannot be done until broad movement of the exploited as coalesced on a global-scale, to the point where compulsory work is no longer possible. The process of destruction of class society is the beginning of having a real human community, which can only exist in islands of extreme chaos and disunity in capitalist society. There is no community but the community of capital right now. That is a reality we have to confront.

I also like the last part where you basically say: "And anything you people say that is contrary to what I said here, but incorporates a key part of my argument, is just the same as my argument!"

Pennoid

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Pennoid on April 13, 2015

We should also definitely talk about the Khmer Rouge.*sarcasm* Also, any type of communist Godwins law has already been achieved, what with invoking the First International and Marx's "authoritarian politics."

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 13, 2015

Radicalgraffiti

i dont see why local and regional self sufficiency would be at all necessary for communism, obviously there would be no point growing food further away than it needed to be, but i don't see how the distance between the growing and consumption of food is a factor in a communist society

It is absolutely a factor. The larger the area covered, the more difficult it becomes to plan and coordinate production and distribution in a democratic way - whether by localities or self-managed enterprises. This problem is multipled without the use of money to act as a unit of account and a means of rationing consumption of scarce good; especially food.

Regionalising and eventually localising production cuts distribution costs and problems down significantly, as it becomes easier and easier to plan agriculture and manufacturing when consumption is so close to the point of production. This is something that's actually more possible than ever before with advances in human scale eco-technologies, especially micro-manufacturing and (if enough investment was cobbled together) vertical farming in urban areas.

Remember that production/distribution is only as spread out in the world today as it is because of massive state subsidisation of transportation - especially rail and shipping distribution - without which each region would naturally have to be as self-reliant as possible, only importing things that can't be produced locally, like coffee or bananas in the temperate zone or specific metals for making electronics.

This sounds a hell of a lot like marx leinist ideas about stages and socialism in one country

It's a simple acknowledgement of economic/material realities. Unlike Marxism, I see no need for all capital and production to be centralised by an elite class of technocrats. It's possible to go straight to a prices-and-incomes form of libertarian socialism right now, with federated participatory democracy, worker self-management of enterprises, and decentralised planning of the economy.

But full communism without money cannot be feasible unless (at least) regional self-sufficiency and (near) post-scarcity are in the horizon.

In other words, Rojava can implement a form of collectivist anarchism right now, but not communist anarchism.

Chilli Sauce

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 13, 2015

Also, I love how anarcho-syndicalists supposedly haven't managed to free themselves from the vestiges of Marx, while the PKK - an organisation that was avowedly Marxist for the bulk if its existence - somehow has.

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 13, 2015

o unless you can prove that Marx's core economic supposition - that the generalized commodity form is the is the basis of capitalist society - is somehow inherently authoritarian

Oh my god, this is one of the fakest arguments yet. As if the core thesis about the commodity was what I was saying was wrong with Marxian economics.

Why insist that "the people" is some superior term when you (apparently) already know that what we mean by the proletariat is what you mean by the people?

Because the people - or the term multitude, which has become popular among autonomists and some anarchists lately - is a jointly social-political-economic term able to unite everyone subject to hierarchical domination. These two terms include class exploitation but also forms of domination which are not specifically economic in origin or in character. Proletariat and working class however - while crucial in many contexts - are specifically economic terms and exclude those who are not subject to certain kinds of domination and those who fit outside the description - as Pennoid says, agrarian workers fall outside it.

As for cross-class alliances, I've yet to see "the people" used by a social movement in a way that included the ruling elite.

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 13, 2015

Pennoid

It seems you had just the kind of knee-jerk reaction I expected in thinking I was attacking Marx only when I explicitly said:

1. He had a lot of good ideas that socialists should take on board and that remain relevant today.

2. That I was explicitly talking about Marxism, the ideology, not Marx as an individual. The problem with determinism for instance is mainly one of his followers. Though it is quite easy to get that impression from most of his material.

My point is that those few good ideas aside, his body of work overall lends itself more to an authoritarian reading to a libertarian one, despite the best efforts of many libertarian socialists. We should look at him today as one socialist economic/social/political thinker among many, not the founder of a new gospel.

Also, thank you for reiterating the same old sexist and laughably economistic idea that women's caring and affective labour doesn't produce value in capitalism. Clearly all the makers of goods and services just spring out of the ground fully formed to become agents in the process of capitalist tangible production.

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 13, 2015

Flint

Really, just stop. That's the socialist equivalent of Godwin's law.

I wasn't associating you with them for goodness sake. I was pointing out the follies in believing we can just go straight from capitalist-statism to full libertarian communism with few logistical problem. The Khemer Rouge sort of tried something similar and look what happened.

Khawaga

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on April 13, 2015

Also, thank you for reiterating the same old sexist and laughably economistic idea that women's caring and affective labour doesn't produce value in capitalism. Clearly all the makers of goods and services just spring out of the ground fully formed to become agents in the process of capitalist tangible production

.

Proof right there that you haven't even read chapter one of Capital. Housework creates wealth, not value. And the fucken up thing about capitalism is that we can have increased material wealth, but when measured in terms of value we're apparently poorer as an economy. Here you're reading Marx like the devil reads the Bible. What Marx is saying is that capitalist society considers housework to be unproductive precisely because it is not a direct relationship of exploitation, only an indirect one. It's the same with education, accounting, the labour at the cash register.

akai

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by akai on April 13, 2015

Just to be clear here, the reason that I mentioned the abolition of money earlier was exactly because in several articles about Rojava, there have been claims that they want to abolish money and that this is one piece of evidence that they are a revolutionary movement. But when I mention this, it turns out that supporters of Rojava think their revolutionary claims are impossible. So this is a bit of a contradiction for me.

Flint, I agree with a lot you say actually. Also, I know quite a lot about rubles, before and after 1991, but I don't think this is exactly relevant. What you rather are thinking of (I think) is the ability of an economy to be locally self-sufficient and the need for cash which can be used for foreign trade. The Soviets had a rather complex system, which is not likely to be the same in Rojava since the overall wealth of that region is nowhere like the Soviets had. The Soviets had, on the one hand, favourable trade status with many countries, COMECON countries, so in fact many things were imported into the area not with cash, but with barter. Bananas for guns, etc. Some import was for cash. Some foreign production was automatically earmarked for export to the Soviet area, so, for example, many Russian houses had Polish telephones, bicycles and vacuum cleaners at a time when many people in Poland could not get phones. As far as cash purchasing was concerned, of course there had to be some foreign currency reserve, which was carefully controlled by the state. The state carefully controlled foreign currency, creating an artificial value and regular people were not usually allowed to use it in Russia. (It was allowed in Poland though, to a limited extent.) I don't think it was meat that had to be imported or caused imports, but grain. Grain was the main Soviet import for years, together with some farming equipment. Of course some of this grain was for animals I guess.

Could go on about that, but it is a digression. Obviously, the more self-sufficient they can be, the better chances they have, in my opinion. Also it has been a pattern for wealthier regions that have their own energy and food resources to be more strongly in favor of autonomy.

Chilli Sauce

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 13, 2015

As for cross-class alliances, I've yet to see "the people" used by a social movement in a way that included the ruling elite.

What, you don't think the Leninist "people's republics" didn't include the ruling elite?

And if that's not good enough for you, when Mussolini made his switch from syndicalist to fascist, one of the first things he did was to change the masthead of the paper he edited from "the voice of the workers" to "the voice of the people".

Chilli Sauce

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 13, 2015

Anyway, you said that Marx's economic couldn't be separated from his authoritarianism and now you're saying that the "core thesis" of Marx's economics doesn't count!?!?

You also clearly don't understand what anarchists mean by class struggle no matter how many times people explain it to you...

Chilli Sauce

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 13, 2015

Finally, if you want to talk Marx, at least understand the difference in meaning when Marx talked about wealth, value, etc.

Chilli Sauce

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 13, 2015

Connor Owens

Flint

Really, just stop. That's the socialist equivalent of Godwin's law.

I wasn't associating you with them for goodness sake. I was pointing out the follies in believing we can just go straight from capitalist-statism to full libertarian communism with few logistical problem. The Khemer Rouge sort of tried something similar and look what happened.

Newsflash: the Khmer Rouge wanted full communism. And the problem was that they moved too quickly towards it. You heard it here first.

radicalgraffiti

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by radicalgraffiti on April 13, 2015

Connor Owens

Radicalgraffiti

i dont see why local and regional self sufficiency would be at all necessary for communism, obviously there would be no point growing food further away than it needed to be, but i don't see how the distance between the growing and consumption of food is a factor in a communist society

It is absolutely a factor. The larger the area covered, the more difficult it becomes to plan and coordinate production and distribution in a democratic way - whether by localities or self-managed enterprises. This problem is multipled without the use of money to act as a unit of account and a means of rationing consumption of scarce good; especially food.

i don't see how money helps with planing.

Connor Owens

Regionalising and eventually localising production cuts distribution costs and problems down significantly, as it becomes easier and easier to plan agriculture and manufacturing when consumption is so close to the point of production.

this is just liberal ideology.

Connor Owens

This is something that's actually more possible than ever before with advances in human scale eco-technologies, especially micro-manufacturing and (if enough investment was cobbled together) vertical farming in urban areas.

Remember that production/distribution is only as spread out in the world today as it is because of massive state subsidisation of transportation - especially rail and shipping distribution - without which each region would naturally have to be as self-reliant as possible, only importing things that can't be produced locally, like coffee or bananas in the temperate zone or specific metals for making electronics.

why the fuck wouldn't we have shipping and trains in anarchist communism? do you want to get rid of the internet and phones to?

Connor Owens

This sounds a hell of a lot like marx leinist ideas about stages and socialism in one country

It's a simple acknowledgement of economic/material realities. Unlike Marxism, I see no need for all capital and production to be centralised by an elite class of technocrats. It's possible to go straight to a prices-and-incomes form of libertarian socialism right now, with federated participatory democracy, worker self-management of enterprises, and decentralised planning of the economy.

But full communism without money cannot be feasible unless (at least) regional self-sufficiency and (near) post-scarcity are in the horizon.

In other words, Rojava can implement a form of collectivist anarchism right now, but not communist anarchism.

you have provided no evidence that money helps with planing in nay way, your just repeating unexamined ideology. It is absolutely impossible to implement anarchist collectivism in an isolated region. Even if if it did not result in them being crushed by the US military and regional powers they would get sanctioned to fuck. They maybe able to maintain a more democratic form of capitalism, but it would be unstable. Anarchist-collectivism is just as dependent on revolution spreading as anarchist communism is.

Pennoid

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Pennoid on April 13, 2015

Connor, you forgot to call me ableist too, as I pointed out that disabled people who don't work are dependent on the wage-fund. Again, this is no judgement, plenty of disabled people work, plenty of women work and they all produce value. Plenty of men stay at home and do dishes and cook meals. They don't produce value in the capitalist sense. Don't blame me for capitalist social relations. (Talk about voluntarism!).

Marx never said that mental or emotional labor doesn't produce value. Of course, anything you do that contributes to the process of work while you are paid your wage, figures into that process of work. This is the same horseshit argument that anti-sex workers use, that sex and emotion are somehow special exalted spheres of human activity, which also "essentializes" those engaged in that activity. Doing the dishes etc. is only the special domain of women, under capitalist social division of labor. Again, it's incorporated in the process of reproducing society, but it does not form in the production of value. What it creates is appropriated by capitalists. Hell, even Fedirici, iirc puts this in a strictly marxian framework of primitive accumulation, which is not a total departure from Marx, but an (arguably) useful application of one of his key ideas. If value is a particular form of social work as expressed in objects (commodities) having as it's content, abstract labor, then we have to ask; does unwaged, housework constitute abstract labor? Again, this sort of just goes back to the point that; Capitalist social relations do not allow for the production of value by the unwaged housework. I'm sorry if you think pointing out social relations makes me responsible for them. Capitalist social relations also necessitates the general policing of parts of the proletariat, often minorities. Does that make me racist?

I don't care that it "goes back to marx" as much as you do. I'm just trying to point out the flaws in your conceptions. I wouldn't call myself a Marxist, maybe a marxian, in the same way that while evolutionary theory developed in the shadow of Darwin, those that used his framework were "Darwinian." While Darwin's framework has been superseded, I don't think that Marx's largely has, and time does not itself affect an automatic change in the applicability of an idea.

radicalgraffiti

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by radicalgraffiti on April 13, 2015

Chilli Sauce

Connor Owens

Flint

Really, just stop. That's the socialist equivalent of Godwin's law.

I wasn't associating you with them for goodness sake. I was pointing out the follies in believing we can just go straight from capitalist-statism to full libertarian communism with few logistical problem. The Khemer Rouge sort of tried something similar and look what happened.

Newsflash: the Khmer Rouge wanted full communism. And the problem was that they moved too quickly towards it. You heard it here first.

there used to be a maoist on revleft who argued this,
i think he also cited "a thousand flowers" as proof of how committed to freedom of thought mao was

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 13, 2015

Khagawa

Here you're reading Marx like the devil reads the Bible

Says a lot that you compare Marx to the Bible. And that you get so obsessed with the appropriate terminology that you ignore the actual concept being talked about. Thanks for proving my point.

Akai

the reason that I mentioned the abolition of money earlier was exactly because in several articles about Rojava, there have been claims that they want to abolish money and that this is one piece of evidence that they are a revolutionary movement. But when I mention this, it turns out that supporters of Rojava think their revolutionary claims are impossible. So this is a bit of a contradiction for me.

There's no contradiction. A moneyless libertarian communist economy should be the long-term goal and to aspire to the goal in Rojava is a positive development.

The point is that to try to go directly from the semi-feudal capitalist-statist system they are imbedded in at present to full communism with no markets or money would be a disaster.

If individual agrarian communes with populations of a few thousand were able to become relatively self-sufficient in food, manufacturing, and other primary sectors, then yes, they could probably transition fairly painlessly to communism in a short period of time. But when talking about the complexities of the region's economy on a large scale, especially once we get away from agriculture (which as Flint showed, is less of a problem for Rojava than other parts of the world) to infrastructure, energy production, and manufacturing, getting rid of all money - even as a unit of account for allocative purposes - and deliberately cutting itself off from all external investment, even from Global South nations like Venezuela opposed to neoliberalism, would be asking for (as I put it) self-managed Juche.

radicalgraffiti

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by radicalgraffiti on April 13, 2015

Juche is the system of the DPRK not the Khmer Rouge. I don't think the DPRK has got rid of money.

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 13, 2015

Radicalgrafiti

there used to be a maoist on revleft who argued this,
i think he also cited "a thousand flowers" as proof of how committed to freedom of thought mao was

So I get accused of making a godwin for bringing up the Khmer Rouge, then get associated with Maoism because some random guy on a message board one time was a Maoist and made a similar argument.

Satire is dead.

Chilli Sauce

What, you don't think the Leninist "people's republics" didn't include the ruling elite?

Lenin, the great pusher of the term proletariat? Do you even realise the irony of what you just said?

when Mussolini made his switch from syndicalist to fascist, one of the first things he did was to change the masthead of the paper he edited from "the voice of the workers" to "the voice of the people".

Godwin. Not even worth responding to this level of immaturity.

you said that Marx's economic couldn't be separated from his authoritarianism and now you're saying that the "core thesis" of Marx's economics doesn't count!?!?

How you managed to get the exact opposite of what I meant is a real feat, I'll give you that.

I was saying that the core thesis about the commodity form is (mostly) true despite emerging from a largely authoritarian intellectual framework. Those who can see what Marx was doing on an ethical level (eg: Bakunin) were better able to appropriate certain ideas of his without succumbing to his politics. Those who take him at his word that his and Engels' project was purely objective/scientific instead of ethical/normative run into problems.

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 13, 2015

Radicalgrafiti

Juche is the system of the DPRK not the Khmer Rouge. I don't think the DPRK has got rid of money.

I know.

I referred to the Khmer Rouge for the worst case scenario from going straight to full communism.

I referred to self-managed Juche when I then went to talking about the best case scenario for doing so, in particular the part about deliberately isolating themselves economically.

radicalgraffiti

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by radicalgraffiti on April 13, 2015

Connor Owens

as Pennoid says, agrarian workers fall outside it.

actually agrarian workers would be working class, peasants would mostly be small farmers.

radicalgraffiti

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by radicalgraffiti on April 13, 2015

Connor Owens

Radicalgrafiti

there used to be a maoist on revleft who argued this,
i think he also cited "a thousand flowers" as proof of how committed to freedom of thought mao was

So I get accused of making a godwin for bringing up the Khmer Rouge, then get associated with Maoism because some random guy on a message board one time was a Maoist and made a similar argument.

Satire is dead.

i accuse you of nothing, i just find it amusing how similar your arguments are

Fleur

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Fleur on April 13, 2015

Guilty admission, but I'm really enjoying this thread.
Carry on….

radicalgraffiti

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by radicalgraffiti on April 13, 2015

Connor Owens

Radicalgrafiti

Juche is the system of the DPRK not the Khmer Rouge. I don't think the DPRK has got rid of money.

I know.

I referred to the Khmer Rouge for the worst case scenario from going straight to full communism.

I referred to self-managed Juche when I then went to talking about the best case scenario for doing so, in particular the part about deliberately isolating themselves economically.

look i'm no expert on Korean or Cambodian history, but if you think either of those where attempts to go straight to full communism" you need to do some serous reading

Khawaga

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on April 13, 2015

Says a lot that you compare Marx to the Bible. And that you get so obsessed with the appropriate terminology that you ignore the actual concept being talked about. Thanks for proving my poin

t.

Well clearly you don't realize that we were talking about the same thing. And I know I'm ESL, but i was pretty sure that that particular idiom exists in English as well. Though from a quick google, it may just be one in Scandinavia.

But again, sorry, you're fucking thick, if you think I was comparison g capital to the bible. I mean really thick.

Fleur: how's that popcorn tasting? Sure you just want to watch from the sidelines?

Flint

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 13, 2015

Connor Owens

But by abolishing all money straight away as a unit of account and method of efficiently allocating production and distribution across a wide area they will indeed starve, due to simple incompetence as they try to coordinate day-to-day economic activity within the complexities of a system in-between capitalist-statism/feudalism and stateless communism.

We might have to restart this conversation by defining what we both think "money" is.

While I want an economy free of money, I can see situations in which people have spent their whole lives using money that they may have to have some sort of psuedo market to interact with while the guts of the economy are actually some kind of participatory economy. And that pseudo market might have labor vouchers, consumer rations or some such. If they are some kind of remuneration for work, I demand that they be called Wetzels (that's a parecon syndicalist joke).

However a plan to bring about the abolition of money and the current lack of currency are things going on with Tev-Dem. "The eventual aim is to build the entire economy of Rojava on the basis of cooperatives or other small economic units, binding them together in a network where the use of money is either minimised or eliminated altogether. "Beuret, "The aim is to connect cooperatives directly to one another so as to ultimately eliminate the use of money entirely in the cooperative sector." Graeber (right here on libcom!)

Their plans to eliminate the use of money actually makes them more communistic in their goals than the anarcho-syndicalist Workers Solidarity Alliance (WSA).

YOU HAVE TO WARN THEM!

Regardless of whether or not some Syrian pounds, Turkish lira or the dreaded U.S. dollar is circulating around Rojava for some time, they have been very clear about both turning the majority of productive capital into commons and abolishing the ability to accumulate profit through financial interest or through the sell of commonized capital. That kind of nationalization (or should we say confederalization? commonization?) is exactly the kind of reason that countries economically embargo and why foreign investment disappears. About 40% of the loans the World Bank makes is interest free... but they often come with other strings attached. The World Bank does turn a profit on the interest on the other 60% of their loans.

cutting themselves off from external capital investment[/i], how would they develop the region? What about rebuilding infrastructure after the conflict with ISIS? What about their aspiration to turn the Rojava urban centres into eco-cities? What about even arts/entertainment? What about serving a a successful shining example of participatory democracy and libertarian socialism to the rest of the Middle East as an alternative to both neocolonialism and Islamism?

I agree that these are all important things to do. Rojava has been cut off from global capital since the start of the revolution, whether or not Daesh has been in their way. Turkey embargos them. KRG embargos them. KRG dug a trench between themselves and Rojava. It might not even be a matter of what Tev-Dem choses, economic embargos tend to be inflicted on states (and confederations of cantons?) for all kinds of reasons, and generally the folks that have embargos inflicted upon them--don't like it.

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 13, 2015

Pennoid

You're still failing to see the point I'm making. Which is that with regard to the production of value, Marx (and especially Engels later on) needlessly dichotomised certain things and emphasised their dichotomisation which should correctly be seen as integrated processes. To list some of them:

* Politcal/Economic
* Production/Reproduction
* Material/Immaterial labour (though he didn't use these terms himself)
* Nature/Society

As I said, many later Marxians have attempted to patch up the flaws in the original framework - most notably the autonomists - but it still becomes a case of (1) trying to square a circle in terms of the original purpose of said framework, and (2) the people engaged in it really show their dogmatic devotion to the man himself in trying to mine just about any quote they can find from Marx himself - even his most obscure writings - in an attempt to prove "Ah-ha! You see doubters! Marx didn't fail to forsee everything that's happened in the last century and a half of capitalist evolution, he was right all along". When really, this is clearly trying to read something in to the texts that was never there. Harry Cleaver is probably the worst offender on this count. Federici is probably the least bad.

The funny thing is many of these "interpretations" we're just things anarchists had talked about decades previously but went unnoticed by Marxists. Then when they arrived at the same libertarian conclusions independently they declared the superiority of their historical materialist method over anarchist thinkers they'd never bothered to actually read.

Another thing Marxists have failed to take account of that anarchists have is, above all, the role of the state. Take primitive accumulation for instance, it's only now that David Harvey takes note of the fact that primitive accumulation never really stopped and continues to be required in unexploited areas of the world (eg: parts of India, East Asia, Latin America) for the increasing accumulation of capital in the globalised market economy. Peter Kropotkin talked about this a full century ago.

I think anarchists have relied overly on Marx for answers to economic questions and ignored the economic writing of thinkers in their own tradition. Kropotkin and Rocker for a start.

commieprincess

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by commieprincess on April 13, 2015

Connor Owens

Marxism; the ideology-cum-religion

Fleur

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Fleur on April 13, 2015

Khawaga

Sure you just want to watch from the sidelines?

Yep, I'm good. You evil Marxists seem to have it all under control.

Flint

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 13, 2015

akai

I don't think it was meat that had to be imported or caused imports, but grain. Grain was the main Soviet import for years, together with some farming equipment. Of course some of this grain was for animals I guess..

Yes, the increase in grain demand was for feed lots. Check out the article I linked. Soviet agriculture survived Lysenko and became more productive.Joseph E. Medley

These rising imports of grain and meat were not triggered, as one might be inclined to infer, from declining production. Grain production rose from an average 181.6 million tons in 1971-75 to an average 206.9 million in 1986-89. Meat production rose from 14.0 million tons in 1971-75 to 19.2 million tons in 1986-89, i.e., a 37 percent increase. The imports were triggered by the rising demand for meat which accompanied rather sharp increases in income. Per capita consumption of meat, rose from 47.5 kg per capita in 1970 to 67 in 1989 (NKhSSSR V 1980:201-202 and V 1989: 118). In a very approximate fashion, the 5.2 million extra tons of meat produced in 1986-89 over and above the 1971-75 level required approximately 50 million tons of grain for feed, 25 million of which have come from domestic production and some 25 from additional imports. Since the increase in grain output and imports has not been sufficient to cope with the increasing requirements for domestic meat production, meat imports were increased

Critics contend that the Soviet Union has been plagued by increasing shortages of meat, even while the government provides massive subsidies, overburdens its budget and, consequently, creates inflation. The Soviet government does provide large subsidies for consumption of meat (and dairy) products (Koopman 1990:4). The large consumption subsidy strains the Union budget. However, the problem is not that socialist agriculture has failed to produce meat, or that the Soviet population is going hungry. As shown in the last section, meat production increased in the 1980's. Yet in 1965 there were surpluses, while today there are shortages.

The solution to this paradox, as Ken Gray has pointed out, has to do with pricing (Gray 1981:44-46). Soviet meat prices had remained in the neighborhood of 2 rubles per kilo of beef, or approximately $1.24 per pound, for decades. In the setting of 1965, when the average wage was 96.5 rubles per month, meat was an expensive item for the family (NKhSSSR V 1979:394). In the setting of the late 1980's when the average wage had risen to 257 rubles per month (Durgin 1990:24), it was relatively much cheaper, consequently people have purchased much more meat. Ironically, increased shortages have grown hand in hand with increased consumption because meat is so inexpensive.

Your soviet state-capitalist colony may have varied.

Uncreative

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Uncreative on April 13, 2015

Connor Owens

when Mussolini made his switch from syndicalist to fascist, one of the first things he did was to change the masthead of the paper he edited from "the voice of the workers" to "the voice of the people".

Godwin. Not even worth responding to this level of immaturity.

Is it really sensible to invoke Godwins Law in discussions about radical politics, rhetoric and nationalism? Like, its actually relevant here. You wanted an example of a political movement using the term people and including a ruling cl... "elite", and one was provided. If you'd like others could be provided?

"We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States"

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 13, 2015

Radicalgrafiti

i accuse you of nothing, i just find it amusing how similar your arguments are [to a Maoist]

Michelle Bachmann: "The last swine flu epidemic happened under Democratic president Jimmy Carter. I'm not saying one caused the other. All I'm saying is it's an interesting coincidence.

Just now saw your earlier quote about the economics of libertarian communism in which you referred to the problems of logistics in managing a moneyless economy as "liberal ideology". With that whole comment, you pretty much outed yourself as someone with no understanding of economics whatsoever.

If not wanting people to starve is "liberal ideology", so be it.

Chilli Sauce

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 13, 2015

Lenin, the great pusher of the term proletariat? Do you even realise the irony of what you just said?

You do realize anarchists were using the term before Lenin was even born, right?

when Mussolini made his switch from syndicalist to fascist, one of the first things he did was to change the masthead of the paper he edited from "the voice of the workers" to "the voice of the people".

Godwin. Not even worth responding to this level of immaturity.

Don't like the answer? Then don't ask the question.

I was saying that the core thesis about the commodity form is (mostly) true despite emerging from a largely authoritarian intellectual framework.

I mean, that is clearly not what you said:

There's also the problem - which many anarchists and "libertarian" Marxists fall into - of thinking Marx's economics can be separated off to one side of his rather nasty authoritarian politics

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 13, 2015

Flint

Yes, but it's important to point out that they've stated these as long-term goals, not short-term goals. Making the community sector of the economy - run by cooperatives - fully communistic should ideally be a stage-by-stage process. They could eliminate the use of money gradually on a service-by-service basis, starting first with the most immediate basic needs, and leaving until last luxuries.

At the moment, they're still using the old Syrian currency for most things, and I think it would be a good move to try to introduce some kind of labour voucher/electronic credit points system so as to maintain prices as units of account for the purpose of (1) efficiently allocating resources across large areas and possibly for calculating international trade, and (2) using prices as a form of rationing scarce resources. As a social ecologist economist called Takis Fotopoulos notes, under capitalism, goods priced through rationing, whereas in an alternative socialist economy (that still maintains prices and incomes) it should be the other way around: rationing through price.

This would serve as a good bridge towards full communism. Stage-by-stage and economic sector-by-sector (from basic needs downwards) the Syrian currency is phased out for non-transferable credit points, which are in turn phased out for communist relations and distribution according to needs.

You mentioned their seizure of the cement factory from ISIS. This is a positive development, but if the war ever ends they'll need a lot of hard capital to rebuild infrastructure and manufacturing. And I can only see that coming from foreign investment. Which may necessitate the necessary evil of doing deals with private capital. They've created a separate sector of the economy they're calling the "open sector" for this purpose, but they have specified two things that make the prospects (slightly) less awful for a libertarian socialist:

(A) They've explicitly stated that this open sector will be subordinate to the community sector, not the other way around, and that if private capital is allowed to invest, they must follow a strict set of guidelines, this may (should) include at least some degree of worker self-management of foreign owned enterprises.

(B) They've said they're looking for investment first to nations opposed to neoliberalism such as Venezuela, though one economist said that they had heard interest, but nothing concrete. Maybe time will change the possibilities of this one.

Flint

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 13, 2015

Uncreative

Connor Owens

]Godwin. Not even worth responding to this level of immaturity.

Is it really sensible to invoke Godwins Law in discussions about radical politics, rhetoric and nationalism? Like, its actually relevant here.

Yes. But I'll admit adding Mussolini, North Korea and the Khmer Rouge is a change of pace from the previous popular pejoratives for the PKK as Stalinists, Leninists or Trotskyists. The Khmer Rouge forced march people out of cities into fields, closed hospitals, shot people for wearing eye glasses--their ideology was for a primitive communism to literally return to the Neolithic and start over. The state was to control who you fucked and what spoon you ate with. That they also abolished money was rather incidental to their abolition of 10,000 years of civilization. They had more in common with Zerzan than Marx. They probably have even more in common with Daesh than Marx. The famine and democide wasn't because they abolished money, its because the party actively destroyed the urban population for ideological reasons because they saw any civil society or memory of the previous order as a threat. Their goal was totalitarianism.

If you want to talk about money your might try taking an anthropological look at its origin, like from Rojava-supporter Graeber. Graeber who is one of the visitors to Rojava who has mentioned their plans to eliminate the use of money. A longer examination on the topic would be Graeber's "Debt" or his Toward an Anthropological Theory of Value: The False Coin of Our Own Dreams (the subtitle a reference to the Iroquois that Marx and Engels were so fascinated with). Graeber is considerably better at writing books on economic anthropology than he is at making suggestions on modern revolutionary strategy, or discussing things in an online forum, on twitter or on an email list..

Bringing up the Khmer Rouge adds nothing of use to the discussion. Its a distraction and a pejorative.

Flint

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 13, 2015

Connor Owens

You mentioned their seizure of the cement factory from ISIS. This is a positive development, but if the war ever ends they'll need a lot of hard capital to rebuild infrastructure and manufacturing. And I can only see that coming from foreign investment. Which may necessitate the necessary evil of doing deals with private capital. They've created a separate sector of the economy they're calling the "open sector" for this purpose,

I didn't mention the cement plant to claim they were somehow totally self-sufficient. I mentioned it because its the largest foreign private capital investment in Syria that is only 7 years old, not old enough for to have paid back the capital investment to the investors yet. Tev-Dem will want to start using it to rebuild Kobane as soon as it is safe to do so. They'll have to implement an organization of work. They'll have to provide for the cement workers (though it actually sounds like it requires only about 250 workers to run the plant) as well as seeing the concrete transported to Kobane and then used in construction. They'll have to eventually come to a decisions about what to do about the previous owners investment and whether to tell them to fuck off, get them to be a partner, or buy them out. How Tev-Dem deals with their defacto possession of the 2nd largest foreign capital investment in Syria will tell us a lot about what they are doing in the short term. What they do with their defacto domination of the Syrian cement market will also tell us a lot about how they are going to relate to the rest of Syria. It'll probably be a lot easier to find out how Tev-Dem organizes, produces and distributes from that cement plant than it will be to interview a hundreds of thousands of farmers. What happens between Tev-Dem and Lafarge will also be an indicator about how foreign investment will respond to Rojava.

Chilli Sauce

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 13, 2015

We should look at him today as one socialist economic/social/political thinker among many, not the founder of a new gospel.

And here we finally come down the basic strawman of your entire "Marxist" argument. I don't think there's a single regular libcom poster who would even remotely consider Marx to be "the founder of a new gospel". While it's true many libertarian communists give a bit more credence to Marx than some anarchists, it's expressly within the context of viewing him as one flawed "socialist economic/social/political thinker among many".

If you could get that basic point you'd see how all your strawman fold at the gentlest puff of wind.

Khawaga, I'm a native speaker and although I hadn't heard the expression, I understood what in meant in about a 10th of a second.

Connor Owens

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 13, 2015

Flint

I've said two or three times now that the mention of the Khmer Rouge was only to refer to the worst possible case scenario. And yes, everything you mentioned is true with regard to the democide and the multiple factors leading to the high death toll. But it's difficult to argue that abolishing all money and trying to achieve self-sufficiency right away was in no way at all a contributing factor to the high levels of starvation due to an inability to allocate food and resources effectively.

So bringing them up and using their name wasn't intended as prejoritive (the way "liberal" "bourgeois" and "nationalist" have been), but you're right. If I had known bringing up the Khmer Rouge would cause such hassle I wouldn't have done so. The point about the ghastly possible consequences of trying to abolish money on a wide scale too quickly, I believe, still stands.

I also agree with David Graeber being better at economic anthropology than on revolutionary strategy, though to be fair, the sketchiness on details is largely a result of being afraid of imposing a specific economic vision on the future (he's explained that this needs to be a result of democratic decisions and experimentations with what works and what doesn't, while expressing an ethical preference for communism himself).

As for arguing on the internet, given the sheer levels of smug denunciation of Rojava by Global Northers and economistic arguments rallied to the defence of said smug denunciation, he's not altogether unjustified in his militancy.

Chilli Sauce

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 13, 2015

Bringing up the Khmer Rouge adds nothing of use to the discussion. Its a distraction and a pejorative.

You're the one who brought up the Khmer Rouge!!

I'll admit adding Mussolini, North Korea and the Khmer Rouge is a change of pace from the previous popular pejoratives for the PKK as Stalinists, Leninists or Trotskyists.

No one compared the PKK to Mussolini, North Korea, or the Khmer Rouge, you git. In my life I just don't think I've ever seen anyone strawman the way you strawman on this thread!

Flint

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 13, 2015

Chilli Sauce

Bringing up the Khmer Rouge adds nothing of use to the discussion. Its a distraction and a pejorative.

You're the one who brought up the Khmer Rouge!!

I'll admit adding Mussolini, North Korea and the Khmer Rouge is a change of pace from the previous popular pejoratives for the PKK as Stalinists, Leninists or Trotskyists.

No one compared the PKK to Mussolini, North Korea, or the Khmer Rouge, you git. In my life I just don't think I've ever seen anyone strawman the way you strawman on this thread!

Chili, those quotes are for me criticizing Connor for using those examples.

Joseph Kay

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Joseph Kay on April 13, 2015

Flint

Chili, those quotes are for me criticizing Connor for using those examples.

That's Marxist talk!