Everything you ever wanted to know about tankies, but were afraid to ask

Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin
Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin

One of the stranger developments of the past five years has been the resurrection of the word tankie. It's time for an explainer.

Submitted by Mike Harman on March 8, 2018

What does tankie mean?

On October 27th 1956, Peter Fryer, a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain, and correspondent for its paper the Weekly Worker, arrived in Hungary. This was four days into an uprising of workers calling for worker controlled socialism. Factories had been taken over nationally by workers councils, in a demonstration of workers self-organisation that was unprecedented at the time, and the first strike on its scale in an Eastern-bloc country. On the 4th of November, Russian T54 tanks rolled into Budapest to suppress the uprising. Street fighting continued until the 10th November, although the workers councils held out for two months.

Fryer returned to the UK horrified by the Soviet repression he had seen, but his attempt to write about it for the Daily Worker was suppressed - the editors were sticking to the official USSR line that the entire uprising was a fascist counter-revolutionary plot and refused to publish anything contradicting that narrative. When Fryer wrote up his experiences anyway, he was expelled from the CPGB. Hungary 1956 split Communist parties across the world; many who had supported the USSR up until this point became disillusioned and split or left individually, while those who stayed loyal to the USSR earned the epithet 'tankies'.

After 1956, the USSR was to invade Czechoslovakia in 1968, then Afghanistan in 1979.

Are all Tankies Marxist-Leninists?

While the original 'tankie' epithet grew out of the split in the Communist Party of Great Britain, the geo-political 'anti-imperialist' support for the USSR and any state aligned against the USA has also been popular with some Trotskyist groups.

In the 1980s it was revealed that the Trotskyist Workers Revolutionary Party (famous for the involvement of actress Vanessa Redgrave) had been receiving funding from Libyan intelligence services and passing details of Iraqi dissidents in the UK to Saddam Hussein.

In the USA, the Workers World Party and Party for Socialism and Liberation both originated in a split from the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party under Sam Marcy. Marcy split from the SWP over the position it took on Hungary '56, although somewhat bizarrely, also accused those who supported the uprising of being Stalinists. Both parties describe themselves as Marxist-Leninist now, and no longer cite Trotsky, but their origination was in the Trotskyist theory of the USSR as a 'deformed workers state.

So support for crushing of workers movements is shared by both some Marxist-Leninists and some Trotskyists, one explanation for this is that the actual politics of Stalin and Trotsky were not very different.

Are all Marxist-Leninists tankies?

The significance of Hungary was not only the uprising itself, but that it occurred in an Eastern Bloc country which was claiming to be socialist. This caused an existential crisis for any communist that still considered the USSR to be a workers' state. Along with Khrushchev's speech to the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in February 1956, exposing and denouncing many of the actions of Stalin.

It was at the same time that Mao began to gradually distance China from the USSR. Maoism had already become a distinct current but without any formal break, which was precipitated by Khruschev's speech and the international reaction to it. Both China and the USSR claimed to be the vanguard of Marxist-Leninism from this point onwards (from here sprang a million accusations of 'revisionism'). This was mostly due to the national interests of the two countries, and internal contradictions in China but was expressed politically as a split with Khrushchev.

The split between China and the USSR, between Maoism and Stalinism, had repercussions elsewhere, such as the multiple splits in the Communist Party of India in the mid-1960s, most often associated with the the Naxalite rebellion, or when the two countries supported opposite sides in Angola's civil war in the 1970s.

Tanks rolled into Tiananmen square in 1989, and those who supported the Chinese government against workers and students have sometimes been labelled 'tankies' too.

This means that 'Marxist Leninist' in the 1960s could include those still aligned with the USSR, those who had been aligned with the USSR but had split after 1956, those influenced by Maoism (Marxism-Leninism-Maoism was coined later in the '90s) and even more confusingly, some Trotskyists would occasionally call themselves Marxist-Leninist too (because they were Leninist Marxists!).

Are all Leninist Marxists Marxist-Leninists?

There have been other historical currents that were influenced by Lenin, including Trotskyism, the Italian branch of Left Communism, and the Operaismo (workerist) tradition in 1960s and 1970s Italy, as well as major figures like CLR James (early on a Trotskyist and leading Pan-Africanist, later moving towards a council communist position). There are huge differences between these currents, as wide as the differences between 'anarchists' and 'marxists'. In terms of a relationship to Lenin we can identity some questions which most of these currents and others have had to answer:

- whether Lenin's work contains unique insights relative to other Marxists at the time
- whether Lenin was correct that Russia would have to pass through a capitalist stage prior to communism and that the task of the Bolshevik party was to raise the forces of production prior to a transition to communism.
- whether the conditions of Russia in 1917 apply to the US in 1960, or to anywhere in the world in 2018.
- whether the USSR was still revolutionary after 1921, 1927, 1956, or 1981.

The answers to these questions led Marxists like CLR James to abandon 'Leninism' almost entirely, whilst still retaining an admiration of Lenin the thinker and historical figure.

Were the Black Panthers tankies?

Some Black Panthers, such as Fred Hampton, described themselves as Marxist-Leninist, but were more influenced by the writings of Lenin and Mao (and the context of Vietnamese resistance to US invasion and African liberation struggles) than the internal or foreign policy of the the USSR. Huey Newton in 1970 introduced the idea of Revolutionary Intercommunalism, a clarification of his ideas which firmly rejected 'socialism in one country'.

In 1966 we called our Party a Black Nationalist Party. We called ourselves Black Nationalists because we thought that nationhood was the answer. Shortly after that we decided that what was really needed was revolutionary nationalism, that is, nationalism plus socialism. After analyzing conditions a little more, we found that it was impractical and even contradictory. Therefore, we went to a higher level of consciousness. We saw that in order to be free we had to crush the ruling circle and therefore we had to unite with the peoples of the world. So we called ourselves Internationalists. We sought solidarity with the peoples of the world. We sought solidarity with what we thought were the nations of the world. But then what happened? We found that because everything is in a constant state of transformation, because of the development of technology, because of the development of the mass media, because of the fire power of the imperialist, and because of the fact that the United States is no longer a nation but an empire, nations could not exist, for they did not have the criteria for nationhood. Their self‐ determination, economic determination, and cultural determination has been transformed by the imperialists and the ruling circle. They were no longer nations. We found that in order to be Internationalists we had to be also Nationalists, or at least acknowledge nationhood. Internationalism, if I understand the word, means the interrelationship among a group of nations. But since no nation exists, and since the United States is in fact an empire, it is impossible for us to be Internationalists.

These transformations and phenomena require us to call ourselves “intercommunalists” because nations have been transformed into communities of the world.
[...]
I don’t see how we can talk about socialism when the problem is world distribution. I think this is what Marx meant when he talked about the non‐state.

Former Black Panthers such as Russell Maroon Shoatz and Lorenzo Kom'boa Ervin, both of whom have spent years in prison for their association with the BPP, have broken with Marxist-Leninism after seeing how the Leninist structure of the Black Panther Party made it vulnerable to the FBI's COINTELPRO programme, and by examining the trajectory of Leninist revolutions.

So the BPP wasn't a monolithic entity politically, and the individual politics of its members as well as the orientation of the party itself changed over time. Rather than claiming it was any one thing, we can read what Black Panther Party members actually wrote in their own right.

And the League of Revolutionary Black Workers?

The League of Revolutionary Black Workers, based in Detroit, described themselves as Marxist-Leninist, but they had close relationships with associates of CLR James such as Martin Glaberman, Grace Boggs, and James Boggs who had broken with Leninism more than a decade earlier, while also being influenced by Fanon and others. Once again the politics are a bit more complex than the labels.

CLR James, Grace Lee Boggs, Raya Dunyevskaya in the 1940s

What about anti-imperialism?

Anti-imperialism means different things to different people. Fundamentally, to be against imperialism should mean support for working class struggles against colonialism, and opposition to capitalist war. Unfortunately 'anti-imperialism' has often morphed into simply taking the side of the USSR in geo-political conflicts, and post-1990, unconditional support to the ruling class in any country aligned against the US.

Lenin in 1914 wrote in The Right of Nations to Self-Determination that communists should support the right of nations to secede, but not the specifics of any particular national struggle. This is because Lenin saw nationalist movements as essential to the development of capitalism over feudalism, as a step on the way towards communism:

Throughout the world, the period of the final victory of capitalism over feudalism has been linked up with national movements. For the complete victory of commodity production, the bourgeoisie must capture the home market, and there must be politically united territories whose population speak a single language, with all obstacles to the development of that language and to its consolidation in literature eliminated.

Even within this stagist framework, Lenin still ultimately stated that the class struggle should take absolute precedence over the nationalist movement:

The bourgeoisie always places its national demands in the forefront, and does so in categorical fashion. With the proletariat, however, these demands are subordinated to the interests of the class struggle. [...] the important thing for the proletariat is to ensure the development of its class. For the bourgeoisie it is important to hamper this development by pushing the aims of its “own” nation before those of the proletariat. That is why the proletariat confines itself, so to speak, to the negative demand for recognition of the right to self-determination, without giving guarantees to any nation, and without undertaking to give anything at the expense of another nation.

Additionally, while American imperialism in 1916 was not at the level it is now, he also rejected the hypocrisy of simply playing off one imperialism against another, in Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism

Let us suppose that a Japanese condemns the annexation of the Philippines by the Americans. The question is: will many believe that he does so because he has a horror of annexations as such, and not because he himself has a desire to annex the Philippines? And shall we not be constrained to admit that the “fight” the Japanese is waging against annexations can be regarded as being sincere and politically honest only if he fights against the annexation of Korea by Japan, and urges freedom for Korea to secede from Japan?

In War and Revolution Lenin wrote:

Nothing but a workers’ revolution in several countries can defeat this war. The war is not a game, it is an appalling thing taking toll of millions of lives, and it is not to be ended easily.

Lenin therefore saw anti-imperialist struggle as being in the realm of bourgeios national revolutions (something to 'critically support' but subordinated to the class struggle), dismissing inter-imperialist conflicts with the slogan "Turn the imperialist war into civil war".

Didn't the USSR support African national liberation?

Sometimes, but only when it supported the USSR's own geopolitical interests. CLR James described his conversation with George Padmore, who had joined the Communist Party and moved to the USSR in 1929, before leaving in 1934 due to the purges and a change in orientation:

But one day, sometime in late 1934 or 1935 there was a knock at my door and I went do the door and there was George Padmore. [...] He said, “I’ve left those people you know.” And that was the biggest shock I received since I had gone to Brazil three years before. “I have left those people” meant he had left the Communist Party. And he was the biggest black man in Moscow, dealing with black people and the colonial revolution. So I said, “What happened?” And he told me. He said, “They are changing the line and now they tell me that in future we are going to be soft and not attack strongly the democratic imperialists which are Britain, France and the United States. That the main attack is to be directed upon the Fascist imperialists, Italy, Germany and Japan. And George, we would like you to do this in the propaganda that you are doing and in the articles that you are writing and the paper you are publishing, to follow that line.” And George said, “That is impossible. Germany and Japan have no colonies in Africa. How am I to say the democratic imperialists, such as the United States is the most race ridden territory in the western world. So I am to say that Britain and France who have the colonies in Africa and the United States, can be democratic imperialists and be soft to them but be strong against Japan, Italy and Germany. That is impossible. What do you think of that?”

Isn't criticising the USSR anti-communist?

There is a tendency by everyone from conservatives, to liberals, to social democrats to criticise the 'crimes of communism' and ignore the actions of capitalist countries. This is complete shite and we reject it completely.

While there were famines and bread riots in the USSR in the 1930s, British policy caused the Bengal famine killing 3 million people in 1943.

While the USSR and China have imprisoned political dissidents, including many communists and anarchists, the USA has the highest incarceration rate in the world, with some political prisoners held in solitary confinement for decades and 1,000 extra-judicial killings by police per year.

While Lenin deported dissident Bolsheviks like Miasnikov and presided over the crushing of the Kronstadt rebellion, social democrats in Germany oversaw the assassination of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknicht in collaboration with the fascist Freikorps.

While the USSR had 'gulags', Britain put hundreds of thousands of Kenyans and Malayans into concentration camps in the 1950s, and there were forced-labour camps in the UK itself in the 1930s under Labour.

While the US healthcare system leaves people without medical care and destitute, Cuba despite economic sanctions has socialised healthcare and trains healthcare workers for other countries.

Liberal myopia sees a horseshoe where liberal democracy is 'reasonable' and fascism and communism are two poles of 'authoritarianism'. A libertarian communist critique asserts that communism is impossible within the framework of the nation state, and that all states, whether fascist, liberal democratic or socialist will suppress workers self-organisation in the interest of capital.

What about Syria, Iran, North Korea?

A central line of communist and anarchist thought and praxis has been internationalism, and an opposition to war in all its forms. This caused the split in the Second International in 1914 when German Social Democrats voted for war credits. However putting this into practice has turns out to be a lot more complicated.

With the war in Syria, opposition to US intervention, shared by all communists (though not necessarily social democrats), has been marred by support from some organisations for the Syrian government and Bashar Assad and Russia despite the of bombing civilians, on the basis that areas such as Eastern Ghouta are held by Islamist militias and that the 400,000 civilians trapped there are being used as 'human shields'.

The CPGB-ML

This is further complicated by Rojava, supported by both some Marxist Leninists and some anarchists, due to the Marxist-Leninist orientation of the PKK, the Libertarian Municipalist ideas recently adopted by the PKK's leader Ocalan, the TEV-DEM system of administrative councils, and the right to national self-determination of the Kurds. On the other hand, both some Marxist Leninists and some anarchist and anti-state Marxists have been fiercely critical of Rojava, due to collaboration militarily with the US against ISIS (and most recently with Assad against Turkey). On libcom.org we've continued to allow publishing of texts both critical and supportive of Rojava, and regularly get attacked for being NATO shills for both, whether it's the US against Assad or Turkey against Rojava.

With Iran, despite the religious nature of the regime and the fact that all communist parties are banned, when strikes and street protests broke out at the end of December 2017, there was an immediate reluctance to recognise the grassroots nature of the actions, due to the possibility that the US might use the protests as an excuse for 'regime change'. Some commentators went as far as to suggest the protests had been almost immediately hijacked by the CIA, Mossad, or Saudi Arabia.

The cases of Iran and Assad show that in these discussions, the internal contradictions of a country can be completely ignored, with the central question always being "is the country aligned against the US or not?" - on the one hand celebrating Assad's attacks against Islamists, on the other celebrating Iran's religious state against the Haft-Tappeh sugar workers or leftist students.

Our position is that regardless of the actions of the Iranian or Syrian state, we completely oppose foreign intervention, whether US, Russia, or Turkey, on the base that foreign intervention always makes things worse. But to oppose intervention does not require a denial of the internal contradictions of those states or the reality of working class resistance to them.

The same applies to North Korea - we reject under any circumstances US intervention in North Korea, hawks in the US talking about a nuclear weapons programme gloss over the US bombing Japan twice in 1945, let alone the use of depleted uranium shells against civilian areas in Iraq. But to reject sanctions and intervention can rely on a principled anti-militarism and internationalism, solidarity with the North Korean working class, not with Kim Jong Un personally. As we would support the Gwangju uprising in South Korea in 1980, we would support workers struggle in North Korea too.

But Communist parties are very successful in India/Japan?

Communist Party India - Marxist
While the CPI-M likes to hold huge rallies with hammer and sickle flags, it's policies are social democratic. It runs for elections, and where it wins pursues pro-business policies. In Kerala the new communist administration under Pinarayi Vijayan stressed partnership between management and trade unions and promised investment to stimulate industry, including 'Silicon Valley-like hubs'. Not quite seizing the means of production, then.

The Japanese Communist Party, with several members in the Japanese parliament (Diet) abandoned Leninism 25 years ago, deciding to pursue a purely electoral road to socialism, and has recently attempted to work with centrist liberal MPs.

They might be popular Communist Parties, but they aren't... communist.. at all.

What about American Marxist Leninists, are they social democrats too?

The Marcyite Party for Socialism and Liberation's program also sounds suspiciously social democrat if you actually read it, for example:

It will be a right of every person in the United States to have a job with guaranteed union representation and full social benefits provided by the socialist government, including a pension, health care, workers’ compensation, paid parental and family leave for up to two years, paid sick and disability leave, a minimum of one month’s paid vacation, and at least 12 paid holidays.

Isn't this... Sweden?

Working conditions will aim to enhance the humanity and dignity of all workers. The working week will be 30 hours.

That's ten hours less than Bernie's offering, but not quite the abolition of wage labour.

However the PSL is just one party, and you will also see Marxist Leninists oppose electoral activity, working on prisoner solidarity etc. The important thing is to actually read what people say they want, and observe what they do, not just listen to what they say about themselves or check whether there's a hammer and sickle or a rose printed next to the promise of full employment - these aren't the things that decide whether someone is communist or not.

Liberals just call anyone they don't like a tankie!

This is often true. There has been regular red-baiting of mild social democrat Jeremy Corbyn, recently accusing him of being a spy for East Germany in the '80s. The right wing of the Democrats at one point was calling any Bernie Sanders supporter a Russian-influenced alt-leftist. William Gillis of the Center for a Stateless Society recently said of us 'Remember when libcom was about as tankie and class-reductionist as you would ever encounter in the radical left, and we all viewed them as evil suspicious bastards because they wouldn't all outright id as anarchists? ' presumably due to our hosting and promotion of anti-state and post-Leninist Marxists.

Therefore if someone is using 'tankie', they may be objecting to a specific leftist ideology that prioritisies geopolitics over class struggle, or they might just be punching left. When liberals have a go at 'communism' they often mean the Soviet Union (and let's be honest sometimes it's tempting to tell people they'll be first in the gulags after the revolution when they do this, especially if it's fucking Jordan Peterson).

Should I work with Marxist-Leninists?

If you're organising at work or around housing issues, the people you work with are not going to all have the same politics at you, and your opinions on the July 1918 uprising of Left Socialist Revolutionaries after their expulsion from the Bolshevik government are not relevant to that situation. Yes, really, no-one gives a shit. You're relating to each other as workers in that situation, not as representatives of a political niche, at least we hope not.

Anarchists and Marxist-Leninists have also worked together as members of anti-fascist collectives in the US and elsewhere, and this is really a choice for people to make locally.

Things you should bear in mind when organising are -

However co-operation with individuals is very different from a left-unity project, coalitions of organisations etc. The questions to consider when a group is organised in for example an anti-war protest is are they going to try to divert a protest into an ineffectual rally, or co-operate with the police if protesters try to step outside strict limits of activity. Similarly with workplace organising, do co-workers have links with the union hierarchy or management? Approaches to this differ from organisation to organisation and is not strictly linked to ideology.

If there are real political and organisational disagreements, it's better to be open about them than gloss over them, and retain some independence.

Comments

rooieravotr

6 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by rooieravotr on March 8, 2018

Very good piece, so much insight crammed into one article ;) One minor mistake: it is not ISIS that active in Eastern Ghouta, at least that is nog the cvlaim I see here and there. It is some other Jihadist factions, amongst whom is Al Nusra (under a new name).

Mike Harman

6 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on March 8, 2018

Fixed that, thanks for pointing it out. Have seen several claims linking Eastern Ghouta to Isis but there's no point repeating those when it's not the central one being made.

Lucky Black Cat

6 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Lucky Black Cat on March 9, 2018

Should I work with Marxist-Leninists?
If you're organising at work or around housing issues, the people you work with are not going to all have the same politics at you, and your opinions on the July 1918 uprising of Left Socialist Revolutionaries after their expulsion from the Bolshevik government are not relevant to that situation. Yes, really, no-one gives a shit. You're relating to each other as workers in that situation, not as representatives of a political niche, at least we hope not.

Well said! If we were in an actual revolution or a mass movement with revolutionary potential, then tankies are my enemies. But we're a long way off from that, so in the day to day class struggle, we're comrades. So long as they aren't trying to put themselves or their Dear Leader in charge. ;)

Also, tankies make some dank memes. :D

R Totale

6 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by R Totale on March 9, 2018

Lucky Black Cat

Should I work with Marxist-Leninists?
If you're organising at work or around housing issues, the people you work with are not going to all have the same politics at you, and your opinions on the July 1918 uprising of Left Socialist Revolutionaries after their expulsion from the Bolshevik government are not relevant to that situation. Yes, really, no-one gives a shit. You're relating to each other as workers in that situation, not as representatives of a political niche, at least we hope not.

Well said! If we were in an actual revolution or a mass movement with revolutionary potential, then tankies are my enemies. But we're a long way off from that, so in the day to day class struggle, we're comrades. So long as they aren't trying to put themselves or their Dear Leader in charge. ;)

Also, tankies make some dank memes. :D

Ehhh, yes and no - as I've mentioned, I have almost no real-life experience of what these folks are like in actual class struggle contexts, but in the context of, for instance, trying to organise practical solidarity with Iranian or Russian comrades facing state repression, I'd guess that most M-Ls would be very reluctant to give any comradely assistance to our "CIA psyops" or whatever.
But again, even international solidarity stuff tends to be on a kind of vague ideological level - if we look at, say, doing antifascist stuff, then you're gonna have to work with anyone who wants to practically disrupt fascist activity, and push forward a pro-WC response, and you're gonna have real problems with people whose strategy revolves around calling for the police to ban marches, or holding rallies on the other side of town with local politicians speaking, and I don't think ideological labels necessarily say much about who's gonna be on which side of those things - again, I don't have much IRL experience of tankies, but I can definitely think of Trots who're really sound on that stuff, and others who are very much not.
Similarly, in the context of an industrial dispute where rank-n-file workers are trying to resist union leadership from imposing a bad deal, or the kinds of class conflicts where you have to take on a Labour council, you'll probably get some ideological leftists of whatever stripe who are happy to help you out, and some who have good relationships with figures in the union leadership, or local Labour politicians, and so don't want to rock the boat and will try and clamp down on anything that might make their relationship with those people uncomfortable, and I don't think those divides are going to map neatly onto tankies or trots or even anarchos or whatever.

Steven.

6 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on March 9, 2018

Lucky Black Cat

Also, tankies make some dank memes. :D

Yeah I think meme culture has really helped the rise of the teenage tankies. I guess because in one sentence or in a soundbite, the ideas don't necessarily sound that bad. And a bunch of tankie meme pages are very funny. Although weirdly most of the big ones seem to be extremely transphobic, which is terrible…

In terms of working with tankies, TBH most of them just seem to be American kids on the internet. I've only really met one in real life who was a co-worker, so we worked together in organising sense at work (not that he did that much but was a solidly pro-worker ally)

Mike Harman

6 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on March 9, 2018

R Totale's summary of the issues working with different groups are good and better than the one in the post. Might update to add a couple of concrete examples along those lines.

@Steven. The Americans in their early teens and twenties is both yes and no.

Where they've had most IRL influence has been the A.N.S.W.E.R. coalition in the US - roughly equivalent to the Stop The War Coalition, which is a front Marcyite groups (first the WWP then the PSL), and from there you'll get members appearing on RT/Sputnik either as guests or hosting shows.

One thing I could have gone into more is that the most tankie-ist stuff around anti-imperialism applies as much to some Trotskyist groups as Marxist-Leninist ones. Sam Marcy was himself a Trotskyist, although the WWP and PSL have mostly written that out of their history.

The WRP in the UK in the '80s got funded by Gaddafi: https://libcom.org/library/revolution-betrayed-wrp-iraq

In the UK George Galloway has Tankie politics (pro-USSR, supported Saddam Hussein, supports Iran, doesn't support the DPRK though), also has a show on RT: https://www.rt.com/shows/sputnik/ as well as Talk Radio. Not sure exactly how Galloway identifies politically but he's anti-Trot.

Or Steve Hedley (senior assistant general secretary of the RMT). Used to be a member of the Socialist Party but he appears on the sites of this site run by a senior figure in a Belgian (I think Maoist) party:
Two articles claiming the Iranian uprising was entirely a US-backed attempt at a 'color revolution' on this Belgian Maoist site:
https://www.investigaction.net/en/interview-with-andre-vltchek-for-farhikhtegan-newspaper-in-iran/
https://www.investigaction.net/en/iran-surviving-another-attack-supported-from-abroad/

Interview with Hedley by the same site:
https://www.investigaction.net/en/brexit-corbyn-and-trade-unions-interview-with-steve-hedley/

Socialist Appeal:
Assadism and conspiracy theories: http://www.socialist.net/syria-the-barbarism-of-war-and-imperialist-hypocrisy.htm

Interview with Hedley again:
http://www.socialist.net/interview-with-steve-hedley-senior-assistant-general-secretary-of-the-rmt.htm

(this via https://tendancecoatesy.wordpress.com/2018/01/21/michel-collon-conspiracies-political-confusionism-and-steve-hedley-rmt/)

There are also many more people have some kind of Marxist-Leninist politics but aren't in a formal organisation. At an old job of mine at a sixth form college, the headteacher had a portrait of Che in his office ffs - people who think "I like communism" then adopt some imagery but don't really get past what is often in practice social democratic politics.

I've also run into at least a couple of people in IRL who believe one or more 'left conspiracy theories', especially around Syria.

So it's not that you run into tankie groups organising as such, this has not happened to me at least, but it's been a feature of the anti-war movement on both sides of the Atlantic, and both the imagery and some of the conspiracy/confusionism stuff has a reasonably wide reach with people who are 'leftie' but not organised.

Mike Harman

6 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on March 9, 2018

Added a new section "Are all Tankies Marxist-Leninists?" to address the Trot issue.

Cooked

6 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Cooked on March 9, 2018

Good piece but fails to emphasize why they are a problem. Perhaps the intro should be more clear about just how awful tankie politics are.

Steven.

6 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on March 9, 2018

Cooked

Good piece but fails to emphasize why they are a problem. Perhaps the intro should be more clear about just how awful tankie politics are.

I don't know, I think to the vast majority of people they already get the problem with supporting mass murdering and genocidal dictators

R Totale

6 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by R Totale on March 9, 2018

Also, without wanting to go into full Daily Telegraph "CORBYN IS A CZECH SPY" mode, there is also a fair bit of crossover between the Andrew Murray/Morning Star old-school CPB folk and the those parts of the Labour left who now make up the contemporary Labour leadership - Seumas Milne being probably the clearest example of this. Obviously Corbyn/McDonnell themselves are genuinely, honestly left-reformist social democrats and not the undercover KGB agents that the right would like them to be, but they have also spent decades and decades working with the likes of Murray, Milne, Galloway et al, so there are shared loyalties and outlooks that grow out of that. I don't know how much, if any, crossover there is between yer excitable internet Maoists and the much more staid social-democrat leaning Morning Star types, but I guess there's still convergence on stuff like support for Assad, even if they might have different approaches on other things.

Also, The Two Souls of Socialism by Hal Draper has some really stupid distortions in ("anarchism is actually authoritarian socialism from above", lol), but also some very good points, and this bit sticks in my head:

One [approach] has the perspective of overthrowing the present, capitalist hierarchical society in order to replace it with a new, non-capitalist type of hierarchical society based on a new kind of elite ruling class. (These varieties are usually ticketed “revolutionary” in histories of socialism.) The other has the perspective of permeating the centers of power in the existing society in order to metamorphose it – gradually, inevitably – into a statified collectivism, perhaps molecule by molecule the way wood petrifies into agate. This is the characteristic stigmatum of the reformist, social-democratic varieties of Socialism-from-Above...
The Communist Parties have shown themselves uniquely different from any kind of home-grown movement in their capacity to alternate or combine both the “revolutionary”-oppositionist and the permeationist tactics to suit their convenience. Thus the American Communist Party could swing from its ultra-left-adventurist “Third Period” of 1928-34 into the ultra-permeationist tactic of the Popular Front period, then back into fire-breathing “revolutionism” during the Hitler-Stalin Pact period, and again, during the ups-and-downs of the Cold War, into various degrees of combination of the two. With the current Communist split along Moscow-Peking line, the “Krushchevites” and the Maoists tend each to embody one of the two tactics which formerly alternated.

Frequently, therefore, in domestic policy the official Communist Party and the social-democrats tend to converge on the policy of permeationism, though from the angle of a different Socialism-from-Above.

Cooked

6 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Cooked on March 9, 2018

Steven.

Cooked

Good piece but fails to emphasize why they are a problem. Perhaps the intro should be more clear about just how awful tankie politics are.

I don't know, I think to the vast majority of people they already get the problem with supporting mass murdering and genocidal dictators

Yes, but my point is that the fact that they support murdering and genocidal dictators somehow gets buried in all the info. Depends on the target audience though. I imagine this text could be what people trying to figure out what a "tankie" means will find. Its all detail and no overview? Still great stuff though.

Mike Harman

6 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on March 9, 2018

Corbyn has gone to all kinds of rallies, SWP events etc., here he is at a rally that was covered in CPGB-ML flag:

It's that kind of 'turn up to any old rally' approach that allows trots and people like Galloway to build front groups so easily.

Steven.

6 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on March 9, 2018

Cooked

Steven.

Cooked

Good piece but fails to emphasize why they are a problem. Perhaps the intro should be more clear about just how awful tankie politics are.

I don't know, I think to the vast majority of people they already get the problem with supporting mass murdering and genocidal dictators

Yes, but my point is that the fact that they support murdering and genocidal dictators somehow gets buried in all the info. Depends on the target audience though. I imagine this text could be what people trying to figure out what a "tankie" means will find. Its all detail and no overview? Still great stuff though.

That's also a good point. If anyone has time might be worth adding in a section summing up Stalin's crimes, and saying how tankies justify them (like the Kalmyk genocide, they blame on some Kalmyk's fighting for the Nazis – although more of them fought for the Red Army so that is a bullshit justification)

Mike Harman

6 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on March 9, 2018

We'd need a standalone piece on the Kalmyk genocide to link to first, which I don't think we have. Also I doubt the vast majority of online tankies have heard of the Kalmyk genocide to even defend it?

There's many examples of them calling Syrian civilian casualties 'psy-ops' or Iranian workers 'CIA', but that gets into conspiracy theory debunking of which there's a lot elsewhere - also if you pick the absolute worst tweet repeating something from a conspiracy theory site it's easy for the slightly more sensible ones to just switch into "but do you deny that US neocons want regime change in Iran?" mode.

There's this part of the original Khrushchev speech on the Kalymk (and other) deportations though:

Comrades, let us reach for some other facts. The Soviet Union justly is considered a model multinational state because we have assured in practice the equality and friendship of all [of the] peoples living in our great Fatherland.

All the more monstrous are those acts whose initiator was Stalin and which were rude violations of the basic Leninist principles [behind our] Soviet state’s nationalities policies. We refer to the mass deportations of entire nations from their places of origin, together with all Communists and Komsomols without any exception. This deportation was not dictated by any military considerations.

Thus, at the end of 1943, when there already had been a permanent change of fortune at the front in favor of the Soviet Union, a decision concerning the deportation of all the Karachai from the lands on which they lived was taken and executed.

In the same period, at the end of December, 1943, the same lot befell the [Kalmyks] of the Kalmyk Autonomous Republic. In March, 1944, all the Chechens and Ingushi were deported and the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Republic was liquidated. In April, 1944, all Balkars were deported from the territory of the Kabardino-Balkar Autonomous Republic to faraway places and their Republic itself was renamed the Autonomous Kabardian Republic.

Ukrainians avoided meeting this fate only because there were too many of them and there was no place to which to deport them. Otherwise, [Stalin] would have deported them also.

No Marxist-Leninist, no man of common sense can grasp how it is possible to make whole nations responsible for inimical activity, including women, children, old people, Communists and Komsomols, to use mass repression against them, and to expose them to misery and suffering for the hostile acts of individual persons or groups of persons.

https://www.marxists.org/archive/khrushchev/1956/02/24.htm

Cooked

6 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Cooked on March 9, 2018

Mike I'd say just a sentence or two mentioning some of the shit they did is enough. No need for more detail or links to a fuller piece. Quite the contrary, but again that depends on the audience.

Mike Harman

6 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on March 9, 2018

Well I tried to link to sources for as much as possible, because apologists will just take an unsourced claim, screenshot it and say "actually this refers to fascists".

When we posted https://libcom.org/library/lenin-orders-massacre-prostitutes-1918 there were dozens of claims that libcom had mistranslated the memo, despite the translation coming from the official USSR-backed publisher (Progress) in the 1970s.

People are always going to do backflips to justify their shit, but a link to a decent source at least means someone who actually reads the post and clicks through can see it's not just lifted from the Black Book of Communism or similar.

Not exactly sure who the audience is. At least partly I think it's for people who get mobbed by 'tankie twitter' or come across a spat and google the word, but I also think people who just think Cuba shouldn't be sanctioned by the US or similar could use a summary that doesn't lump them in with Assad apologists.

Lucky Black Cat

6 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Lucky Black Cat on March 10, 2018

Steven.

a bunch of tankie meme pages are very funny. Although weirdly most of the big ones seem to be extremely transphobic, which is terrible…

Holy shit, didn't know that. :(

Getting back to the article again...

In the 1980s it was revealed that the Trotskyist Workers Revolutionary Party (famous for the involvement of actress Vanessa Redgrave) had been receiving funding from Libyan intelligence services and passing details of Iraqi dissidents in the UK to Saddam Hussein.

Wow this is so fucking shameful.

Serge Forward

6 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Serge Forward on March 10, 2018

Didn't they also pass the names on of a couple of Libyan Trotskyists who were subsequently executed?

Cooked

6 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Cooked on March 12, 2018

A fair bit of research around social media promoting algorithms have made in into the mainstream media recently. The jist of it being that provocative and divisive content is profitable for the social media platforms as they generate anger and clicks. So the platforms promote and recommend this content to make more money.

Most of the stuff written focuses on how right wing youtube and facebook content gets promoted by the algorithms. One could guess that tankies might benefit from this system as well.

Steven.

6 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on March 12, 2018

Cooked

A fair bit of research around social media promoting algorithms have made in into the mainstream media recently. The jist of it being that provocative and divisive content is profitable for the social media platforms as they generate anger and clicks. So the platforms promote and recommend this content to make more money.

Most of the stuff written focuses on how right wing youtube and facebook content gets promoted by the algorithms. One could guess that tankies might benefit from this system as well.

I would think that is probably correct, however I think that would pretty much apply to both the extreme right and extreme left-wing of the spectrum (i.e. including trot and libertarian left as much as Stalinist)

Comrade Phil

6 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Comrade Phil on March 13, 2018

Hi, could I post this onto the SHAF blog please?
https://surreyandhampshireanarchistfederation.wordpress.com/

Reddebrek

6 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Reddebrek on March 18, 2018

Pretty good Mike, if I have any comments it would be that I've noticed two other related trends. A number of online communists have moved away from Stalin & Mao et al but are very, very enthusiastic over ML leaders like Castro and Sankara and I'm sure there are others use issues aren't well known that will attract some attention in the future. Might be worth writing up responses that focuses on lesser known ML leaders too.

I've also noticed an increase in Pol Pot supporters, its gone from zero to a have dozen, so its still a small fish, but I don't really want to see that grow anymore.

Edit: also I made a PDF of this http://www.mediafire.com/file/jit5ruu5a3zpup2/Everything_you_ever_wanted_to_know_about_tankies%2C_but_were_afraid_to_ask.pdf

Mike Harman

6 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on March 19, 2018

Reddebrek

Pretty good Mike, if I have any comments it would be that I've noticed two other related trends. A number of online communists have moved away from Stalin & Mao et al but are very, very enthusiastic over ML leaders like Castro and Sankara and I'm sure there are others use issues aren't well known that will attract some attention in the future. Might be worth writing up responses that focuses on lesser known ML leaders too.

I don't think I've seen a single good overview of Sankara anywhere online, it would be really good to add one to the library.

There are a couple of ways that people are approaching Castro and Sankara. On the one hand you get absolutely uncritical support, and people just adopting any person/country that they think is Marxist-Leninist and trying to claim the history of it as a list of 'successes for Marxist-Leninism'. This would certainly still fit into the general 'tankie' aspect of this piece.

However there's also an interest in them as part of a general trend of people trying to learn about Caribbean and African anti-colonial movements - Sankara, Sekou Toure and Kwame Nkrumah, Nyerere in Tanzania, the MPLA in Angola are the ones that people tend to cite as some kind of socialist attempt (compared to someone like Jomo Kenyatta in Kenya who was 100% liberal nationalist and put in place by the British despite him also being a figurehead while in prison).

Then Walter Rodney in Guyana (although he was organising against both Forbes Burnham's post-colonial government and Cheddi Jagan's opposition), Fanon, Steve Biko.

I'd like to see a lot more engagement with that history - both from MLs, but also anarchists, left communists and everyone else, because most of the people arguing about them on all sides do so from a position of relative ignorance.

One person who's good on this is Matthew Quest.

He wrote this on CLR James' 'critical support' for Cuba in Insurgent Notes: http://insurgentnotes.com/2016/04/c-l-r-jamess-critical-support-of-fidel-castros-cuba/

Also a more general one on James' differing approaches to Caribbean and African movements vs. Facing Reality: https://libcom.org/library/silences-suppression-workers-self-emancipation-historical-problems-clr-jamess-interpreta - Eusi Kwayana Guyana Bauxite strike book that some of those arguments are based on is really interesting.

This is partly why I wrote up https://libcom.org/blog/post-war-strike-wave-sub-saharan-africa-02032018 before this one, but of course it got zero comments compared to this.

reddebrek

I've also noticed an increase in Pol Pot supporters, its gone from zero to a have dozen, so its still a small fish, but I don't really want to see that grow anymore.

wtf.

reddebrek

Edit: also I made a PDF of this http://www.mediafire.com/file/jit5ruu5a3zpup2/Everything_you_ever_wanted_to_know_about_tankies%2C_but_were_afraid_to_ask.pdf

Thanks!

R Totale

6 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by R Totale on March 19, 2018

On a related note, I'd be really interested to read more about Castro's (and the USSR/China's, to a lesser extent) adventures in Africa - I know a lot of Castroists cite Cuba's contribution to the defeat of apartheid as one of his big achievements, I kind of tend to think of sending a (conscript, iirc) army in to invade countries on another continent as being the sort of thing that smacks of imperialism. On the other hand, if we pose the question as "if there's a revolution in one area, while other areas are still ruled by régimes like that of apartheid SA, then what is the 'correct' way for the liberated zone to relate to those other areas?", I have to admit I really don't have a good answer either.
Still, from what I know of it, everything about the Soviet/Cuban policy towards Somalia and Ethiopia sounds like a truly indefensible mess, even from the most narrowly pro-national liberation perspective.

Also, just to pivot back to being all eurocentric again, does anyone know what proper Stalin-likers think about the Moscow trials/general 30s purges of old Bolsheviks? It seems kind of incomprehensible to me that anyone can simultaneously hold that the 1917 Bolshevik Party was the absolute bee's knees and the correct model that must be upheld for all time, *and* that a majority of the leadership, along with a good deal of the membership, were capitalist-fascist secret agents who deserved to be shot - does anyone understand how they square that circle?

Mike Harman

6 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on March 19, 2018

R Totale

does anyone know what proper Stalin-likers think about the Moscow trials/general 30s purges of old Bolsheviks?

I've seen two approaches:

1. Some variation on "A chicken in every pot, an icepick in every Trot." (or just ignoring it entirely) - this is the teen tankie/LARPer/anti-anarchist line. It's almost impossible to argue against because there's not even a pretence at good faith.

2. Point out at this time there were still lynchings in the US, that the UK had concentration camps in the '30s, that there were forced labour camps in the Spanish Civil War, or that the USSR went on to defeat Hitler in collaboration with Churchill who presided over the Bengal famine etc.

The second one is whataboutism against liberal red-baiting but it's not necessarily wrong on its own terms. The question then is are people claiming the USSR was communist or a workers state or whatever, or that it was not necessarily more or less brutal than other capitalist states, while there has been a concerted effort to build up 'crimes of communism' without the same against 'capitalism'. The issue then for 'us' is are we actually interested in proving how bad the USSR was, or just that it wasn't communism? I think it's the latter when it comes down to it.

R Totale

On a related note, I'd be really interested to read more about Castro's (and the USSR/China's, to a lesser extent) adventures in Africa - I know a lot of Castroists cite Cuba's contribution to the defeat of apartheid as one of his big achievements, I kind of tend to think of sending a (conscript, iirc) army in to invade countries on another continent as being the sort of thing that smacks of imperialism.

Angola is one of the most confusing cases because the USSR and Cuba supported the MPLA, China and the US supported UNITA, and the DPRK switched between the two.

There was also John Stockwell the ex-CIA whistleblower who was stationed in Angola as one of his last posts, and wrote that there was absolutely no reason for the US to fund UNITA over the MPLA, because the MPLA would have been happy to be non-aligned and export oil to the US too - disillusionment over Angola was one of the reasons they left - i.e. that the US was contributing to the prolongation of a civil war for absolutely no reason except that they'd picked the losing side a decade earlier.

There's a general overview of the MPLA here which mentions Cuba and the USSR: https://libcom.org/library/national-liberation-state-power-anarchist-critique-mpla-angola

https://libcom.org/library/lessons-angola-walter-rodney-1976 Walter Rodney on the MPLA vs. UNITA

This paper on the massacre by the MPLA of up to 10,000 of their own supports with the help of
Cuban troops, after they'd beat UNITA in the civil war in the wake of a coup attempt (or at least street protest, even this is disputed) attempt by a faction of the MPLA. It's subsequently been turned into a book, but it's the only source on the massacre in English - apparently there's a book or two in Portuguese though.

https://libcom.org/library/angolan-massacre-may-27-1977-grim-portent-south-africa
https://libcom.org/history/27-may-angola-view-below

Also article on it here: http://africasacountry.com/2013/06/the-battle-over-the-27th-of-may-in-angola/

Online information about all this is pretty scarce as far as I can tell.

Haven't read it, but there's this Baruch Hirson piece on the ANC and Stalinism: https://libcom.org/history/various-documents-stalinism-anc-0

Edit: just found http://www.sahistory.org.za/article/cuba-and-struggle-democracy-south-africa which has a lot of details post-Angola. Essentially Cuba's assistance to the MPLA was a bulwark against the apartheid regime in South Africa both by preventing expansion and some support to ANC guerrilla groups operating around the border.

To have a critique of Cuban support for Angola you'd need to approach it in a couple of ways:

1. There's some discussion of Cuba being very concerned about oil production in Angola due to the US embargo, would they have offered assistance to somewhere that wasn't mineral rich?

2. More documentation on the mai 27 repression and Cuban involvement. When I posted some of these articles on twitter they were immediately dismissed as 'CIA propaganda' or similar.

3. A proper critique of why 'support for the ANC' should not be equated with support for anti-apartheid movements, given the Durban 1973 general strike, Soweto uprising, Steve Biko and Black Consciousness etc. which the ANC had little to no involvement with and in some cases opposed until well after they'd happened.

jura

6 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by jura on March 19, 2018

R Totale

It seems kind of incomprehensible to me that anyone can simultaneously hold that the 1917 Bolshevik Party was the absolute bee's knees and the correct model that must be upheld for all time, *and* that a majority of the leadership, along with a good deal of the membership, were capitalist-fascist secret agents who deserved to be shot - does anyone understand how they square that circle?

Judging from properly Stalinist textbooks on CP and USSR history, what they'd say is something like this:

Trotsky never really agreed with Lenin (1903 split, later a Menshevik), Zinoviev and Kamenev "betrayed" on the very eve of the Revolution (voting against an insurrection) and then again (arguing for negotiations and perhaps power-sharing), Bukharin and Radek were left deviationists and wrong on the Brest-Litovsk peace etc. All of these pople had close comrades around them who were later also part of the leadership, and so could be accused by proxy. The influence of these bad apples on the Party was not as pronounced as long as Lenin was around, but after his death these elements tried to gain control of the Party and the state. Fortunately, comrade Stalin, whose positions were always 100% in line with those of Lenin (well, not really, but this can be fabricated or glossed over), put up a fight and revealed these traitors for who they were.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

radicalgraffiti

6 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by radicalgraffiti on March 19, 2018

Mike Harman

reddebrek

I've also noticed an increase in Pol Pot supporters, its gone from zero to a have dozen, so its still a small fish, but I don't really want to see that grow anymore.

wtf.

there used to be some ironic pol pot supporters on revleft, and some that where apologists, putting all the blame on the American bombing campaign

Entdinglichung

6 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Entdinglichung on March 19, 2018

radicalgraffiti

Mike Harman

reddebrek

I've also noticed an increase in Pol Pot supporters, its gone from zero to a have dozen, so its still a small fish, but I don't really want to see that grow anymore.

wtf.

there used to be some ironic pol pot supporters on revleft, and some that where apologists, putting all the blame on the American bombing campaign

there was a satirical "Red Khmer Students Group" 1996/97 at Hamburg University which won 2 out of 47 SU council seats, the people behind it were either Anti-Germans or Anarchist Punks

Reddebrek

6 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Reddebrek on March 19, 2018

Mike Harman

I don't think I've seen a single good overview of Sankara anywhere online, it would be really good to add one to the library.

Apart from a Documentary I haven't either. I suspect there is a lot more information in French. In English the most information I've found are the books of speeches published by Pathfinder Press, the publisher that was connected with the American SWP (maybe still affiliated?).

There are a couple of ways that people are approaching Castro and Sankara. On the one hand you get absolutely uncritical support, and people just adopting any person/country that they think is Marxist-Leninist and trying to claim the history of it as a list of 'successes for Marxist-Leninism'. This would certainly still fit into the general 'tankie' aspect of this piece.

Yes, most of Sankara in particulars popularity is very ignorant but rests on a list of practical achievements. There's not much knowledge at all about how his government actually function, other then some statistics and inspiring quotes. The lack of information is personally very frustrating.

R Totale

On a related note, I'd be really interested to read more about Castro's (and the USSR/China's, to a lesser extent) adventures in Africa - I know a lot of Castroists cite Cuba's contribution to the defeat of apartheid as one of his big achievements, I kind of tend to think of sending a (conscript, iirc) army in to invade countries on another continent as being the sort of thing that smacks of imperialism. On the other hand, if we pose the question as "if there's a revolution in one area, while other areas are still ruled by régimes like that of apartheid SA, then what is the 'correct' way for the liberated zone to relate to those other areas?", I have to admit I really don't have a good answer either.
Still, from what I know of it, everything about the Soviet/Cuban policy towards Somalia and Ethiopia sounds like a truly indefensible mess, even from the most narrowly pro-national liberation perspective.

A book you might find interesting is The Hot Cold War, the USSR in Southern Africa. Its written by a former Soviet adviser to allied organisations in Southern Africa, SWAPO, ANC, MPLA etc. It covers the entire region, and while its slanted at presenting the Soviets and their allies in a positive light it does acknowledge failures and mistakes. For example it doesn't talk about the Cuban massacre of MPLA supporters in Angola but it does mention the incident as a factional fight within the MPLA which complicated matters.

there used to be some ironic pol pot supporters on revleft, and some that where apologists, putting all the blame on the American bombing campaign

there was a satirical "Red Khmer Students Group" 1996/97 at Hamburg University which won 2 out of 47 SU council seats, the people behind it were either Anti-Germans or Anarchist Punks

Nah I'm aware of the "ironic" pisstaking support, but I've started seeing genuine sympathy for them. And to be honest, a lot of the criticism of Pol Pot from vocal ML types focusses on the support he got from the US. Which doesn't fill me with confidence.

Mike Harman

6 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on March 19, 2018

Just re-posted https://libcom.org/library/where-s-winter-palace-marxist-leninist-trend-united-states written by two people who consider themselves in the Marxist-Leninist tradition which coves in a fair bit of detail the Marcyite groups WWP and PSL.

I think it's useful for understanding both the groups themselves and the dynamics of post-2011 ML-ism, and it's also trying to point people in that orbit towards a broader set of political influences and a different approach to political education and organisation - although it's sort-of arguing for a more open Marxist-Leninism than a break with it, depending on where you set the boundaries for that sort of thing.

Nymphalis Antiopa

6 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Nymphalis Antiopa on March 20, 2018

The OP says:

You're relating to each other as workers in that situation, not as representatives of a political niche, at least we hope not.
Anarchists and Marxist-Leninists have also worked together as members of anti-fascist collectives in the US and elsewhere, and this is really a choice for people to make locally.

Given that their politics is authoritarian, vile and against any independent struggle (as shown by almost every post here) why would anybody want to work with them? How could people "retain some independence" when working with them? Such a "choice" seems self-destructive. If "You're relating to each other as workers in that situation, not as representatives of a political niche" then one could also relate to working class nazis "as workers in that situation, not as representatives of a political niche".

R Totale

6 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by R Totale on March 20, 2018

Just to clarify, do you think it's possible to relate to liberal workers as workers? Religious ones? Brexit voters? Remain voters?

Nymphalis Antiopa

6 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Nymphalis Antiopa on March 20, 2018

Just to clarify, do you think it's possible to relate to nazi workers as workers? You know perfectly well that those in political parties, particularly ones which have such a crudely vile ideology, are very different from people who hold liberal, religious or Brexit/Remain opinions (though some of these might certainly be vile as well).

R Totale

6 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by R Totale on March 20, 2018

I note that you removed "Remain voters" from my list - you might view support for the brutality of Fortress Europe's borders as being some kind of a nice, fluffy lesser evil, but I certainly don't. Anyway, the issue about having a nazi coworker is that they would presumably pose a more-or-less direct threat to ethnic minority/LGBTQ/etc coworkers, whereas I don't think a Stalinist coworker is likely to actually gulag anyone. But, for the record, while I think relating to nazis as coworkers is a non-issue 99.9% of the time, and likely to be impossible in most cases, I would flag up the Lucasville uprising as being an important point of reference for how these issues can be practically overcome. I'd also refer you to a text by Kevin Rashid Johnson I added to the library recently called something like "Political Struggle in the Teeth of Prison Reaction", which again deals with a situation where he had no choice but to do pretty much that.
For that matter, I think Rashid himself is a relevant figure to consider here - he is definitely a real actual Marxist-Leninist, with all that implies; he's also a fairly prominent figure in US prison organising, and as a result of an article he wrote on the Florida prison strike movement earlier this year, he was thrown into a cell with no heating and a window that wouldn't close in the middle of January. In that situation, do you think the best reaction is to relate to him as a fellow rebel worker being victimised by the bosses/state, or to view him as a Stalin-in-waiting and look forward to when the guards get around to arranging an accident for him?

I hate cops and UKBA/Border Force/whatever the filth are called nowadays, but I don't view every person who believes in the continued existence of the cops and borders as being directly equivalent a copper or UKBA agent; I hate the Cheka, KGB, Stasi and so on, but I don't think everyone who believes those things were historically necessary is exactly the same as a KGB agent themselves.

R Totale

6 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by R Totale on March 20, 2018

Double post, nvm.

Nymphalis Antiopa

6 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Nymphalis Antiopa on March 20, 2018

I didn't see the Remain voters reference first time (must have read the post too quickly), but as you can see, on the edit I've added it.

If you're going to talk about the Lucas uprising, when nazis joined the uprising - it's hardly an equivalent for situations outside of US prisons. In US prisons, you are pretty much forced to join one gang or another, divided on racial grounds. Whites who do not join the nazis have to go to black or Latino gangs for protection,with all the obvious risks. If the black or Latino gang refuses you, you lay yourself open to horrific brutality from the nazis, since they will automatically hear of what most of them would consider “betraying your race”. Making equivalents like this is just a "clever" debating tactic designed to avoid the point of what I was saying. And solidarity with a prisoner who "was thrown into a cell with no heating and a window that wouldn't close in the middle of January" is not the same as working closely with someone who has a role in a Marxist-Leninist party. I support everyone against the prson system - including very obnoxious people - but that certainly doesn't mean I would work with them.

Mike Harman

6 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on March 20, 2018

Nymphalis Antiopa

You know perfectly well that those in political parties, particularly ones which have such a crudely vile ideology, are very different from people who hold liberal, religious or Brexit/Remain opinions

I would guess that the vast majority of people who identify as some kind of Marxist-Leninist are not actually members of parties. I don't think someone thinking that Castro did really well sorting out socialised healthcare and urban gardening in the face of US sanctions is going to be harder to organise with than someone who wishes that Owen Smith had won the Labour Party leadership, or that the main legacy of colonialism in India is the railways and a competent civil service, or that 9/11 was an inside job, or that Russia is responsible for the election of Trump or the Brexit referendum, or that immigrants are responsible for housing shortages and low wages. (I've worked with at least one or two people who believed 9/11 was an inside job).

I just re-posted https://libcom.org/library/where-s-winter-palace-marxist-leninist-trend-united-states which goes into a lot more detail on the particular Marcyite trot-tankie formulation that's gained recent ground in the US. It's written from the perspective of someone who came out of that milieu, still considers themselves Marxist-Leninists, but is arguing for a more open approach and the ditching of the party form.

To some extent Viewpoint mag is related to this as well, in terms of political references they'll cite workers inquiry and operaismo, but also Althusser and the New Communist Movement.

Nymphalis Antiopa

Making equivalents like this is just a "clever" debating tactic designed to avoid the point of what I was saying.

Interesting you say that since you immediately made the equivalence between an individual Marxist-Leninist you might happen to work with and a member of a Nazi group you might happen to work with.

Nymphalis Antiopa

6 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Nymphalis Antiopa on March 20, 2018

It should be obvious I was talking about those in M-L political parties .

Everyone makes equivalences to a certain extent - it depends on context. So yes - there is partly an equivalence between Stalinists and Nazis. In Poland before Germany invaded Russia, the swastika and the hammer and sickle flew side by side. Historically, I'd say that Leninism has been a far more insidious force against independent class struggle than nazism, so I'd say that there's no equivalence on that score. But that doesn't make me feel more inclined to work with nazis.

The point is, you seem to have drawn no line at all, which is no surprise - or if you have, you've left it so vague ("this is really a choice for people to make locally.") as to be evasive - it avoids the issue. And giving the example of a 9/11 conspiracy theorist is irrelevant. In a riot or an occupation or a strike or whatever, it's inevitable you will find yourself alongside loads of racists, mysogenists, homophobes, etc. etc. But that is not the same as "working with" them, which implies something involving discussion, strategy, maybe something written - and to work with those in political parties (or indeed avowed racists, mysogenists, homophobes, etc.) is like working with your future executioners. Which is literally what Trots did in Vietnam at the end of WWII - do you just want to repeat blatant historical errors?

Why mention an irrelevance liek Viewpoint? The fact that Viewpoint rag makes positive references to Tronti, Althusser, and the New Communist Movement is indicative of the mess that far lefty intellectuals get themseves into, which never considers the practical implications of their tolerance. But then there's no point in debating with apologists for Leftism like you and I already see that it was a waste of time to have stuck my oar in here.

Adios

R Totale

6 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by R Totale on March 20, 2018

Nymphalis Antiopa

If you're going to talk about the Lucas uprising, when nazis joined the uprising - it's hardly an equivalent for situations outside of US prisons. In US prisons, you are pretty much forced to join one gang or another, divided on racial grounds. Whites who do not join the nazis have to go to black or Latino gangs for protection,with all the obvious risks. If the black or Latino gang refuses you, you lay yourself open to horrific brutality from the nazis, since they will automatically hear of what most of them would consider “betraying your race”. Making equivalents like this is just a "clever" debating tactic designed to avoid the point of what I was saying. And solidarity with a prisoner who "was thrown into a cell with no heating and a window that wouldn't close in the middle of January" is not the same as working closely with someone who has a role in a Marxist-Leninist party. I support everyone against the prson system - including very obnoxious people - but that certainly doesn't mean I would work with them.

If you want to know how I relate to the open, ideological neo-nazis I work with, the answer's pretty simple: I don't, because there aren't any in my workplace, or my previous workplace, or the one before that, etc. I thought that'd be a fairly useless answer to give, hence why I tried to give the best real-life example I could think of of an environment where dealing with nazis would be more of an issue.
Outside of US prisons, I think the chances of running into either a Stalinist or a nazi in your immediate workplace would be getting on for 0; one of the key differences, however, is that if you get involved in something like a rank-and-file network within your union, or a local grouping bringing together militant workers across different industries, or you find yourself needing to go to a trades council meeting for whatever reason, then you're fairly likely to run into a Leninist, because they tend to be very overrepresented in those environments, which I don't think is the case with nazis. IMO, how people navigate that should depend on a whole host of situation-specific variables, it's not as simple as just "Stalin bad" - even though, to be clear, I do definitely think Stalin bad.
Similarly, in the case of Rashid, he's someone who is simultaneously a prisoner being victimised by the administration, someone who holds a role in a Marxist-Leninist party, and, if I remember correctly, an active member of the IWW. No matter how much we may disagree with his views on Russian, Chinese or indeed Spanish history, I don't think that those are the only relevant factors in deciding what our attitudes should be there.

Lucky Black Cat

6 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Lucky Black Cat on March 26, 2018

LMAO, this vid pairs great with the article.

The article, being informative and serious, is like a wholesome meal, and then this video, which is shit-post style entertainment, is like the dessert.

It's amusing, but also disturbing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xn_J3RB6W4o

[youtube]xn_J3RB6W4o[/youtube]

Khawaga

6 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on March 27, 2018

LBC

It's amusing, but also disturbing.

Yuuup. I didn't know that online Tankies were that psycho.

Lucky Black Cat

6 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Lucky Black Cat on March 29, 2018

Khawaga

LBC

It's amusing, but also disturbing.

Yuuup. I didn't know that online Tankies were that psycho.

I showed it to a friend and watching it the second time, it became less amusing and more disturbing. I guess (hope) they cherry picked the worst of the worst.

Lucky Black Cat

6 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Lucky Black Cat on April 10, 2018

Showed this article to a friend and we read it together and just have to give props to Mike Harman for making us LOL

When liberals have a go at 'communism' they often mean the Soviet Union (and let's be honest sometimes it's tempting to tell people they'll be first in the gulags after the revolution when they do this, especially if it's fucking Jordan Peterson).

Plus a few other funny lines. (Good info, too, of course!)

R Totale

5 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by R Totale on September 12, 2018

Revisiting this in the light of a recent story about Goldsmiths - not gonna link to the scum press here, but you can google "goldsmiths gulag" easily enough if you don't know what I'm on about. On one hand, there'll be tabloid horror stories about lefty students for as long as crap tabloid newspapers and lefty students exist; on the other, people mounting an apparently serious, pofaced defence of the gulag does seem like a genuine shift from previous stories that mostly revolve around I'll advised jokey hyperbole or whatever.
Still, I guess it's interesting that there's now apparently something that the Morning Star and woke intersectionalist students can agree on.

Mike Harman

5 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on September 12, 2018

R Totale

..on the other, people mounting an apparently serious, pofaced defence of the gulag does seem like a genuine shift from previous stories that mostly revolve around I'll advised jokey hyperbole or whatever.
Still, I guess it's interesting that there's now apparently something that the Morning Star and woke intersectionalist students can agree on.

I saw the twitter thread before it was deleted, but haven't read any of the media articles on it yet. It was as far as I can tell completely unironic - they were talking about gulags being compassionate non-violent rehabilitation and having book clubs etc.

The other trend I've seen more of in the past year or so is unironic Dengism (i.e. that China is still 'Socialist' because capitalism is controlled by the CCP).

Here's someone who apparently has a real day job for China Daily: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/opinion/2017-10/27/content_33769002.htm / https://twitter.com/isgoodrum

The other person with an actual platform to spread this bullshit is Ajit Singh - this is from Telesur:
https://www.telesurtv.net/english/opinion/China-A-Revolutionary-Present-20171004-0015.html but he's also had exactly one article published in Monthly Review.

And came across someone who claims to be an Aylesbury Young Labour officer also doing unironic Dengism. Wasn't convinced this was a real person, but apparently so: https://www.varsity.co.uk/news/13642

It's all.. not very good.

Lucky Black Cat

5 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Lucky Black Cat on September 12, 2018

Mike Harman

I saw the twitter thread before it was deleted, but haven't read any of the media articles on it yet. It was as far as I can tell completely unironic - they were talking about gulags being compassionate non-violent rehabilitation and having book clubs etc.

Now that must have been the strangest Capital reading group ever.

Noah Fence

5 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Noah Fence on September 12, 2018

Ajit Singh wrote

China is still a revolutionary, socialist state, and a friend to all those struggling against capitalism and imperialism around the world.

Amazingly, this isn’t even the most ridiculous thing said in the article! This is some high quality stuff.

Mike Harman

5 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on September 12, 2018

Noah Fence

Ajit Singh wrote

China is still a revolutionary, socialist state, and a friend to all those struggling against capitalism and imperialism around the world.

Amazingly, this isn’t even the most ridiculous thing said in the article! This is some high quality stuff.

Yeah the weirdist thing is seeing Dengist and Marcyites arguing against online Maoists, with the Maoists arguing that China is capitalist against them.

There are also (on twitter, but not exclusively so), fascists who will pose as MLs and make similar arguments. I can't tell to what extent this is 'trolling' vs. actual third-positionism/multi-polarism, which is part of the point I guess.

Lucky Black Cat

5 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Lucky Black Cat on September 12, 2018

We live in heckin weird times.

888

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by 888 on June 30, 2019

Is it worth physically breaking up the tankie organizations before they get too strong? After all they'll do much worse to us as soon as they get the chance.

R Totale

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by R Totale on June 30, 2019

Idk how serious the above is, but I think actual tank groups seem to do a fair job of doing that to themselves and each other, what's weird about the current lot is the amount of non-affiliated leninists. Also just to mention this article shows up as a citation/link in this interview with HK anarchists: http://libcom.org/news/hong-kong-anarchists-resistance-extradition-bill-27062019

Lucky Black Cat

4 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Lucky Black Cat on July 5, 2019

888

Is it worth physically breaking up the tankie organizations before they get too strong? After all they'll do much worse to us as soon as they get the chance.

I think the best way to ensure that tankie organizations don't get power is to focus our energy on proving the benefits of self-organization, direct action, collective decision making, and other aspects of our political praxis. This will attract people to libertarian-communist politics. Combined with this should be popular education efforts about the dangers of tankie politics.

Forcefully trying to destroy another anti-capitalist organization that at least seems to be or claims to be fighting for the working class could make us, and by extension our politics, look really bad to workers and make the tankies seem more sympathetic. Thus backfiring.

If they were getting big and strong enough to pose a threat we might have to reconsider, but even then, initiating a direct confrontation would come with its own set of risks and negative outcomes, and we'd have to judge whether the costs outweighed the benefits.

All this is a long way off, though, as right now tankies, like anarchists, are extremely weak. So we should really focus on how to make advances against capital in the class struggle.

Mike Harman

4 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on July 5, 2019

It also ignores how much the Stalinist organisations are imploding by themselves and how much turnover there is. https://theleftwind.wordpress.com/ is a project by people who left the WWP/PSL orbit. There have also been tonnes of individual and group resignations from the WWP and PSL over mishandling of sexual assault allegations and similar. Some of them will just drift out of political activity (or into another sect), some like the left wind people will re-examine their politics.

If people are serious about combating the increase in Stalinism, you need to look at what the conditions are that are contributing to it becoming popular again. For me, the organisations are considerably less of an issue (except to their own members who get rinsed for dues and activity, there's an e-mail going around where their annual membership fundraising drives are asking for hundreds of dollars from each member on top of dues) than the 'celebrity tankies' like Norton and Blumenthal, who have significant full time state-funded platforms to push faux anti-imperialism.

Documenting stuff like their links with third positionists, or the fact that despite a lot of rhetoric their actual stated politics are significantly right of the 1983 Labour manifesto: https://libcom.org/library/investigation-red-brown-alliances-third-positionism-russia-ukraine-syria-western-left and https://libcom.org/library/why-did-workers-world-party-attend-conference-neo-confederate-secessionists does a lot more to undermine them than turning up to a Hands Off Syria demo to start shit.

comradeEmma

4 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by comradeEmma on July 5, 2019

Focusing on small sects as a primary contradiction or a grand looming danger is just another way of turning into a sect. What has been achieved by gonzaloites in Austin trying to break up the PSL? Some anarchists seem to be trying their hardest to argue for the next LaRouche-style "clean up".

Jim

4 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Jim on July 5, 2019

888

Is it worth physically breaking up the tankie organizations before they get too strong? After all they'll do much worse to us as soon as they get the chance.

Why let a Barcelona May Days happen again? At some point it'll need doing.

Ed

4 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Ed on July 5, 2019

Jim

Why let a Barcelona May Days happen again? At some point it'll need doing.

What a daft comment. This is the logic of keeping your room tidy not building working-class power.

Jim

4 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Jim on July 5, 2019

If history has taught us anything it's that in a revolutionary situation Leninists will brutally murder anybody who wants to create a genuine communism, be that workers, sailors or anarchists. Kronstadt and Barcelona are the two most notable examples but there are countless others. Now I'm not saying we need to be organising squads against Leninists or applying the tactics of anti-fascism towards them now. But there have been mutterings on the London anarchist scene of Tankie gang looking for confrontations with 'radlibs' for a while, this kind of thing will happen.

Mike Harman

4 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on July 5, 2019

Jim

If history has taught us anything it's that in a revolutionary situation Leninists will brutally murder anybody who wants to create a genuine communism, be that workers, sailors or anarchists.

'Leninists' includes the Vietnamese Trots like Ngo Van Xuyet who Ho Chi Minh wiped out in 1945.

It also includes the EPRP in Ethiopia who were massacred by Mengistu https://libcom.org/library/ethiopias-red-terror / https://libcom.org/library/democracia-exposes-socialism-social-imperialism

Someone like Joe Jacobs who defied the CP leadership for Cable Street.

And rank and file members of groups like the Black Panther Party like Lorenzo Kom'boa Ervin or Russell Maroon Shoatz.

Or Murray Bookchin for most of the 1930s, CLR James until the late '40s.

All of these were operating in conditions of heightened class struggle compared to where we are now.

radicalgraffiti

4 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by radicalgraffiti on July 5, 2019

Jim

888

Is it worth physically breaking up the tankie organizations before they get too strong? After all they'll do much worse to us as soon as they get the chance.

Why let a Barcelona May Days happen again? At some point it'll need doing.

the barcelona may days happened in situation where the communist party was getting support from the ussr, there is no equivalent for current leninist organisations

Nymphalis Antiopa

4 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Nymphalis Antiopa on July 5, 2019

MHwrote:

And rank and file members of groups like the Black Panther Party like Lorenzo Kom'boa Ervin or Russell Maroon Shoatz.

.
Yet James Carr, a former Black Panther, was killed on the orders of the Black Panthers - https://libcom.org/library/james-carr-black-panthers-all-that

Besides, MH's little list is ahistorical - obviously in earlier periods of history often fairly decent people, out of ignorance, joined Leninist organizations, and subsequently tended to lose their decency. But post-Hungary '56, and even more so post-1989 when USSR archives slowly became public, it would be like looking for a needle in a haystack to find some Leninist, or at least one who stayed in a Leninist organization for longer than say 1 or 2 years, that had anything other than a repressive effect on revolt and class struggle.

There have been some members of fascist organizations that were for a short time at least, not really fascistic in their perspectives (ones who joined because they hated, for fairly solid reasons, Leninist organizations) but I'd guess that nobody here would say something to the effect that such organizations shouldn't be attacked for these reasons (the question of how strategic tit may be in any given situation is something else).
Leninism in the 20th century had a far more devastating effect on revolutionary movements and class struggle than fascism precisely because it often attracted otherwise decent people and then destroyed any genuine rebelliousness in them and worse. Even now, if we look for example at Hong Kong, the notion of "communism" is tied up with the mass-murdering scum of the Chinese Central Committee and Mao (whose Great Leap Forward, for the few reading this who don't know about it, starved and killed 38million people).

So, Mike Harman, why this feeble attempt to exonerate Leninists ?

Mike Harman

4 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on July 5, 2019

Nymphalis Antiopa

Yet James Carr, a former Black Panther, was killed on the orders of the Black Panthers - https://libcom.org/library/james-carr-black-panthers-all-that

Several black panthers were also killed by other members (some of whom were infiltrators but nonetheless). There's Elaine Brown's account of getting death threats from Eldridge Cleaver https://libcom.org/history/reflections-jean-seberg-black-panther-party-elaine-brown, and the beating of Regina Davis in the mid '70s where her jaw was broken. Also some of the events around the East/West split. All of these are examples of Leninist parties attacking their own members and ex-members though, rather than attacking anarchists or other factions. The ICC typewriter incident against the 'Chenier faction' is another case where the violence is directed essentially inwards.

In other words I don't think the response to the BPP leadership threatening Elaine Brown and beating up Regina Davis should have been physically attacking meetings attended by Elaine Brown or Regina Davis because they were in the BPP (and Brown was leadership).

Besides, MH's little list is ahistorical - obviously in earlier periods of history often fairly decent people, out of ignorance, joined Leninist organizations, and subsequently tended to lose their decency. But post-Hungary '56,

The EPRP example is from the early-mid 1970s, I think their actual experience of facing a USSR-backed dictator meant they had to face the reality of Leninism pretty quickly, but it's clear from the writing that's around they were operating somewhere between Leninism/Maoism/New Left. Also most of my examples are more recent than Jim's so it's less ahistorical than the comment it was responding to.

There have been some members of fascist organizations that were for a short time at least, not really fascistic in their perspectives (ones who joined because they hated, for fairly solid reasons, Leninist organizations) but I'd guess that nobody here would say something to the effect that such organizations shouldn't be attacked for these reasons (the question of how strategic tit may be in any given situation is something else).

No but this is precisely where the difference is. Far right groups are either electoral like UKIP, or they're actively organising to attack sections of the working class and left groups, like the EDL.

Some Leninist groups do organise to attack other left groups - like the SWP/UAF collaborating with the police to hand over anarchists and similar. With the SWP I would support turning over their stalls and/or defacing their posters etc. (and this does happen) because their history as well their rape cover-up well documented by this point, and all the people in the SWP are precisely in it because they took a choice to stay in or join despite its reputation. There's fortunately no stall near me but have given the local organiser a mouthful when he turned up trying to sell a paper at a local picket.

However it would not make sense to attack someone holding an SWP/SUTR placard, because they distribute hundreds of them at demos to inflate their perceived size, so you're more likely to be attacking a random uninformed demo attendee than an actual SWP member. What you can do is try to inform people about the organisation so they don't take the placards (or rip off the logos/put their own stuff on as happened at Grenfell marches). Not quite the same for someone wearing a 'Free Tommy' shirt at a DFLA demo.

Leninism in the 20th century had a far more devastating effect on revolutionary movements and class struggle than fascism precisely because it often attracted otherwise decent people and then destroyed any genuine rebelliousness in them and worse.

That almost sounds like you're saying the main victims of Leninist organisations are their own members?

So, Mike Harman, why this feeble attempt to exonerate Leninists ?

It's not an attempt to exonerate Leninists though is it, it's an attempt to actually look how Leninism operates materially, which most immediately and especially in the current situation are disillusionment, abuse, and mis-education of their own membership, rather than getting into power and massacring anarchists. The sects also thrive on the idea that they're under attack, and use this to further isolate their membership - so physically attacking them at a demo is likely to reinforce this, whereas relentlessly mocking the organisation, leaking documents etc. on sites like this and social media where their membership will see it has more chance of people breaking away or crucially discouraging people on their way towards joining from doing so.

Mike Harman

4 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on July 5, 2019

Jim

But there have been mutterings on the London anarchist scene of Tankie gang looking for confrontations with 'radlibs' for a while, this kind of thing will happen.

So because of Red London and the CPGB-ML are you going to start physically attacking RS21 meetings Jim?

Nymphalis Antiopa

4 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Nymphalis Antiopa on July 5, 2019

MH - when you say

All of these are examples of Leninist parties attacking their own members and ex-members though, rather than attacking anarchists or other factions.

in part in relation to James Carr, you're wrong. Carr had left the Black Panthers and was moving in a libertarian direction under the influence of situationist-type people such as Isaac Cronin and Dan Hammer.

More recently, at the 2014 SF Bay Area Anarchist Bookfair, Quilombo, a maoist-type organisation, physically attacked an anarchist bookstall, destroying some books and intimidating various anarchists (see, for instance, this: https://socialinsurrection.wordpress.com/2014/04/30/an-open-letter-to-bay-area-anarchists/ ). And the response of those who'd been attacked was pretty pathetic - wanting to discuss things with a gang of Leninist thugs who'd already shown that they didn't want to discuss anything. So let's not pretend that this is merely some internal internecine squabble that anyone with an anti-authoritarian outlook should just pass by. These Lenin hero-worshippers have concrete practical effects. There are countless other examples of Leninists fucking over concrete struggles (for another example, there's something in this text, if I remember correctly, about how a Leninist party helped sabotage a struggle back in the 90s : https://libcom.org/library/occupational-therapy-university-college-hospital-strikes-occupations-1992).

Whilst you may claim I was saying "the main victims of Leninist organisations are their own members" because that 's what I said in one sentence, it's obvious that when I continued with the "Great Leap Forward... starved and killed 38million people" that I was not making that point exclusively at all.

I wouldn't have bothered to post anything here if it wasn't for the fact that increasingly the so-called "anti-authoritarian" milieu is becoming feebly tolerant of authoritarian politics. And, although what you do against Leninist scum is, as I said, a strategic question, you have to at least recognise that their influence is patently confusing and horrendous and a site that can tolerate LeninistGirl, for example, will tolerate anything.

Reddebrek

4 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Reddebrek on July 5, 2019

Mike Harman

So because of Red London and the CPGB-ML are you going to start physically attacking RS21 meetings Jim?

Sorry, what's this about?

Black Badger

4 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Black Badger on July 5, 2019

the qilombo fiasco was a more drawn-out process of degeneration than you make it sound. the eventual coalescence of the project into a full-blown third wordlist quasi-maoist gang center was not complete until months after the event at the book fair. the space had been opened as "The Holdout" by (mostly white) anarchists and vaguely radical DIY people in 2011. this entailed a hefty amount of voluntary labor and donated/liberated material to make the long-abandoned unit usable as a community gathering space (computers, a library/bookstore, a bicycle repair/rebuilding shop, a screen printing work shop, clothing exchange, sort of a food bank, as well as offering ongoing and one-off educational events). once it became clear that the space was stable and more or less self-sustaining, the identity politicians started moving in. as befits most sub-marxist cooptions, this process was gradual. more self-identified People of Color started hanging out and on occasion participating in meetings. after the definitive suppression of Occupy Oakland and during the generalized demoralization that came in its wake, the first generation of folks who'd built The Holdout were exhausted, both physically and emotionally. the scene was set for the quasi-maoists to make their first move. they rushed a meeting of the organizers' collective and announced that The Holdout was white supremacist since there was a white majority in the collective. white anti-racist ally paralysis ensued, and within a few weeks, at least half of the people who'd volunteered their labor and political energy from the beginning walked away. the influx of the identity politicians created the necessary mass to change the name and to restructure the collective into something more along the lines of democratic centralism, where People of Color were allotted more influence. a few months later was the altercation at the book fair. at that time it wasn't fully clear to outsiders what had been happening behind the scenes, and there were still visible anarchists involved in the restructured project; they had an informational table set up at the book fair, and their presence didn't raise any eyebrows. the open letter that you linked to was written with the accepted presence in the local anarchist scene of the now-renamed qilombo social center in mind, and by the fact that there were still anarchists involved. about eight months after their assault and vandalism at the book fair, however, the handful of remaining anarchists had been purged. in a process that took a little over a year, the full takeover (primitive accumulation/resource expropriation) by the quasi-maoists was then complete. no more white allies, no more anarchists, no more pretense to being anti-authoritarian. the building and the adjoining lot were sold to a gentrifier, who didn't renew the lease and it took another two years for the eviction to be complete. it blows that eventually some hideous new gentrified structure will be built on that site, but good riddance to those quasi-maoist fuckers.

Jim

4 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Jim on July 6, 2019

Mike Harman

Jim

But there have been mutterings on the London anarchist scene of Tankie gang looking for confrontations with 'radlibs' for a while, this kind of thing will happen.

So because of Red London and the CPGB-ML are you going to start physically attacking RS21 meetings Jim?

No, I'm not advocating attacking anything. Just noting that there will probably be clashes between anarchists and Leninists in the future. I think it's a bit naive to think that Leninists won't try to use physical violence to establish hegemony on the left. I can't think of a successful Leninist party which hasn't done it.

Also, if the current London left was divided up along the lines of the Barcelona May Days, RS21 would be the POUM.

comradeEmma

4 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by comradeEmma on July 7, 2019

Do you not count POUM as a Leninist party? Wasn't it the CNT that put their cadre in prison camps? Taking historically specific cases without further context as a general law of history is beyond ridiculous. If fights were to break out between "leninists" and "anarchists" today it would be insignificant battles between sects. Again, a real LaRouche-mentality.

darren p

4 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by darren p on July 7, 2019

LeninistGirl

Do you not count POUM as a Leninist party?

Yes it was one.

Wasn't it the CNT that put their cadre in prison camps?

No it wasn't the CNT it was the Stalinists

Taking historically specific cases without further context as a general law of history is beyond ridiculous. If fights were to break out between "leninists" and "anarchists" today it would be insignificant battles between sects. Again, a real LaRouche-mentality.

I tend to agree, a lot of this to me seems like high level LARPing.

Reddebrek

4 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Reddebrek on July 7, 2019

LeninistGirl

Again, a real LaRouche-mentality.

According to ex-members who ditched Larouche at the time he started attacking leftists, the goal of his attacks were to poison the well so much that his members would be forced into isolation from rival leaders and ideas and rally around him. He needed to do this as he'd decided to pivot his group to the far right.

From what I've seen of this discussion several users are concerned about potential threats from groups that honestly have been openly hostile and attached to historic cases of sectarian violence for many years. Some have even given examples of this manifesting already.

Perhaps their concerns are unfounded but comparisons to a far right cult leaders strategy for dominance aren't particularly applicable or helpful.

Mike Harman

4 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on July 8, 2019

Nymphalis Antiopa

MH - when you say

All of these are examples of Leninist parties attacking their own members and ex-members though, rather than attacking anarchists or other factions.

in part in relation to James Carr, you're wrong. Carr had left the Black Panthers and was moving in a libertarian direction under the influence of situationist-type people such as Isaac Cronin and Dan Hammer.

So, an ex-member then.

More recently, at the 2014 SF Bay Area Anarchist Bookfair, Quilombo, a maoist-type organisation, physically attacked an anarchist bookstall, destroying some books and intimidating various anarchists (see, for instance, this: https://socialinsurrection.wordpress.com/2014/04/30/an-open-letter-to-bay-area-anarchists/ ). And the response of those who'd been attacked was pretty pathetic - wanting to discuss things with a gang of Leninist thugs who'd already shown that they didn't want to discuss anything.

This post on the same site you linked to describes the people involved in Qilombo as 'identity anarchists', not Maoists. In addition Qilombo (recently evicted) was a social centre, not a Maoist organisation.

Social Insurrection

A group of identity anarchists “intervened” during a regular Tuesday night Long Haul Anarchist Study Group meeting sometime after that blog post. Hannibal Shakur, an activist in Occupy Oakland’s Decolonization tendency who is fighting vandalism charges after participation in the Trayvon Martin riots, was prominent in the newly organized Qilombo Social Center in Oakland. He and his crew attended the Study Group meeting, it seems not merely to dispute their post-left anarchist critique of Maoism, the NCM and the BPP, but also to challenge their right to pursue such independent study at all. The identity anarchists harassed and harangued the post-left anarchists, and in the heat of the argument betwen the two sides, post-left anarchist Lawrence Jarach made a categorical statement so typical of orthodox anarchism. To paraphrase, Jarach contended that: “All churches must be burned to the ground.” An identity anarchist demanded: “But what about the black churches?” To which Jarach responded: “The black churches must be burned … all churches must be burned.” The disagreements only got nastier from there, with open acrimony escalating into implied threat.

https://socialinsurrection.wordpress.com/2014/08/01/anarchist-purges-anarchist-no-news-at-11-by-lefty-hooligan/

edit - I see Black Badger has provided more context

So let's not pretend that this is merely some internal internecine squabble that anyone with an anti-authoritarian outlook should just pass by.

Well you tried to find an example of Leninists attacking anarchists and instead found an example of anarchists attacking anarchists. You can try to argue the anarchists are secret Leninists but that's an entirely different argument, since you'd have to then endorse physical attacks on anarchist orgs that you think are secret Leninists at that point.

Mike Harman

4 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on July 8, 2019

Reddebrek

Mike Harman

So because of Red London and the CPGB-ML are you going to start physically attacking RS21 meetings Jim?

Sorry, what's this about?

It was in response to this:
Jim

888

Is it worth physically breaking up the tankie organizations before they get too strong? After all they'll do much worse to us as soon as they get the chance.

Why let a Barcelona May Days happen again? At some point it'll need doing.

Then this:

Jim

If history has taught us anything it's that in a revolutionary situation Leninists will brutally murder anybody who wants to create a genuine communism, be that workers, sailors or anarchists. Kronstadt and Barcelona are the two most notable examples but there are countless others. Now I'm not saying we need to be organising squads against Leninists or applying the tactics of anti-fascism towards them now. But there have been mutterings on the London anarchist scene of Tankie gang looking for confrontations with 'radlibs' for a while, this kind of thing will happen.

Red London is mostly a facebook page run by Stalinists, they seem to have some crossover with the Morning Star and are pro-Labour.

The CPGB-ML is Harpal Brar's split from the CPGB, which recently banned discussion of 'identity politics' and endorsed Nigel Farage.

They're both explicitly reactionary groups, in some cases close to third positionists like Vanessa Beeley, who I absolutely think would start attacking anarchists.

RS21 is a split from the SWP, they're still Trots but I think they've rejected 'Democratic Centralism' and seem to be very slowly going the 'heterodox marxism' direction. I don't follow them closely but from what I've seen they're more likely to get attacked by the CPGB-ML or Red London than to attack anarchists themselves, Jim describing them as the equivalent of the POUM would back that up - but then it'd be useful to be explicit when talking about the threat posed by groups rather than throwing around 'Leninist'.

comradeEmma

4 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by comradeEmma on July 8, 2019

Also, hasn't most anarchist bookfairs been broken up by physical altercations between anarchists? Like the infamous London Anarchist bookfair where transphobic anarchists showed up or the multiple incidents surrounding "little black cart" in the US.

darren p

4 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by darren p on July 8, 2019

LeninistGirl

Also, hasn't most anarchist bookfairs been broken up by physical altercations between anarchists? Like the infamous London Anarchist bookfair where transphobic anarchists showed up or the multiple incidents surrounding "little black cart" in the US.

There's quite a few Anarchist and radical bookfairs around the world, a couple of incidents isn't "most".

Black Badger

4 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Black Badger on July 8, 2019

just for the record, the version of events that was reported on the Social Insurrection website is unreliable, based on second- and third-hand information; that website is run by a guy who was not present at any of those events. if anyone's interested in the whole story, you can PM me. i'm not posting any more details on this thread because as far as i know, the scumbags who ran Qilombo are not tankies.

Mike Harman

4 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on July 8, 2019

darren p

LeninistGirl

Also, hasn't most anarchist bookfairs been broken up by physical altercations between anarchists? Like the infamous London Anarchist bookfair where transphobic anarchists showed up or the multiple incidents surrounding "little black cart" in the US.

There's quite a few Anarchist and radical bookfairs around the world, a couple of incidents isn't "most".

I think we can read this as when there have been altercations at bookfairs, have they mostly been between anarchists, although even if that's true it's probably a close run.

The London bookfair incident is more complex than this for a start. The TERFs who showed up and leafleted were not anarchists - one of then was a Green Party parliamentary candidate. The reason it was infamous was because Helen Steel intervened to defend the TERFs and got shouted at by the people trying to remove them. So it became an altercation between anarchists but did not start out as one. It's likely if the non-anarchist TERFs had not showed up to leaflet, the day would have gone without confrontation, although it obviously did expose underlying tensions between different anarchists in the process.

There was a case at a previous London bookfair where Amir Taaki showed up to disrupt a talk on Syria. Taaki sometimes describes himself as anarchist but is actually anarcho-capitalist or some variety of third positionist, see this write up: http://social-ecology.org/wp/2018/01/the-new-reactionaries-amir-taaki-alt-right-entryism-and-rojava-solidarity/

Then there's organised far right groups showing up to disrupt bookfairs, which has happened a few times in the US.

Entdinglichung

4 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Entdinglichung on July 11, 2019

Mike Harman

The CPGB-ML is Harpal Brar's split from the CPGB, which recently banned discussion of 'identity politics' and endorsed Nigel Farage.

They're both explicitly reactionary groups, in some cases close to third positionists like Vanessa Beeley, who I absolutely think would start attacking anarchists.

don't blame the CPGB for them, they exist since the late 60ies under different names, entered Arthur Scargill's SLP in the mid-90ies, helped Scargill to get rid of all people critical to him before they were thrown out themselves 10 years later ... to my perception, they are thriving

Mike Harman

4 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on July 11, 2019

Entdinglichung

Mike Harman

The CPGB-ML is Harpal Brar's split from the CPGB, which recently banned discussion of 'identity politics' and endorsed Nigel Farage.

They're both explicitly reactionary groups, in some cases close to third positionists like Vanessa Beeley, who I absolutely think would start attacking anarchists.

don't blame the CPGB for them, they exist since the late 60ies under different names, entered Arthur Scargill's SLP in the mid-90ies, helped Scargill to get rid of all people critical to him before they were thrown out themselves 10 years later ... to my perception, they are thriving

Oh good point. Harpal Brar's wiki page has a bit on the '60s stuff https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harpal_Brar

Nymphalis Antiopa

4 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Nymphalis Antiopa on July 18, 2019

Mike H:

Well you tried to find an example of Leninists attacking anarchists and instead found an example of anarchists attacking anarchists.

This is bullshit. Quilombo are definitely NOT anarchists. Bob Black called them maoists. Whether that's true or not, Quilombo in a post on Anarchist News (can't be bothered to trawl through the site to find it) attacked anarchists - anarchists in general, not specific anarchists - as racists. You cite a text on Social Insurrection as proof of your idea that these were anarchists but as blackbadger says:

the version of events that was reported on the Social Insurrection website is unreliable, based on second- and third-hand information; that website is run by a guy who was not present at any of those events.

. And you can't be bothered to respond to what s/he says.
MH also says :

All of these are examples of Leninist parties attacking their own members and ex-members though, rather than attacking anarchists or other factions.

and then says that James Carr was "an ex-member then.". True, of course. But you could also say he was, in a sense, part of a different faction if by faction you include situ-types.

Of course, Lawrence Jarach saying that: “All churches must be burned to the ground.”
is stupid hack ideology. But it's impossible to know what crap Quilombo were hurling at him that made him come up with such a silly response. They were maybe defending black clergy. I don't know - I wasn't there, and neither was MH. Of course, not all churches should be burnt to the ground. Even Notre-Dame-de-Paris. After all,

Everyone will, so to speak, live in their own personal “cathedrals.”

- from http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/Chtcheglov.htm

As for MH's insinuation that I "try to argue the anarchists are secret Leninists" this is certainly "an entirely different argument" because it's not an argument I have used here. He's just playing typical manipulative political games by sneakily trying to imply that I said it.

The OP says:

You're relating to each other as workers in that situation, not as representatives of a political niche, at least we hope not.
Anarchists and Marxist-Leninists have also worked together as members of anti-fascist collectives in the US and elsewhere, and this is really a choice for people to make locally.

If by "work together" you mean something other than participating in a strike or riot or whatever together, which invariably one does with racists, religious freaks, etc. because one cannot know the ideas of everyone who participates in such things nor - in such situations - is it always necessary to find out such things, then ok. But if it means consciously organising some specific action or writing then that just seems like sitting down with our future executioners, sitting down with red fascists, as Otto Ruhle referred to most M-L ists.

Mike Harman

4 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on July 18, 2019

Nymphalis Antiopa

Mike H:

Well you tried to find an example of Leninists attacking anarchists and instead found an example of anarchists attacking anarchists.

This is bullshit. Quilombo are definitely NOT anarchists. Bob Black called them maoists. Whether that's true or not, Quilombo in a post on Anarchist News (can't be bothered to trawl through the site to find it) attacked anarchists - anarchists in general, not specific anarchists - as racists. You cite a text on Social Insurrection as proof of your idea that these were anarchists but as blackbadger says:

the version of events that was reported on the Social Insurrection website is unreliable, based on second- and third-hand information; that website is run by a guy who was not present at any of those events.

. And you can't be bothered to respond to what s/he says.

You originally posted the link to Social Insurrection introducing Qilombo into this discussion, I just used the same source as you prior to seeing Black Badger's post, which confirms my assessment that they are not 'tankies'. So rather than accuse me of not responding to what he says, maybe you should respond yourself - did you take him up on his offer to provide more background in private?

Of course, Lawrence Jarach saying that: “All churches must be burned to the ground.”
is stupid hack ideology. But it's impossible to know what crap Quilombo were hurling at him that made him come up with such a silly response.

It's not impossible because there's a standing offer from Black Badger to fill in more details.

As for MH's insinuation that I "try to argue the anarchists are secret Leninists" this is certainly "an entirely different argument" because it's not an argument I have used here. He's just playing typical manipulative political games by sneakily trying to imply that I said it.

No you argued that an anarchist social centre (at least anarchist at the time that the event you're referring to happened) was a Maoist organisation, based on false information from a website that Black Badger has subsequently stated is unreliable, and you're now saying that me pointing out your mistake is a 'manipulative political game'. Either you can correct your assessment that it was a Maoist organisation, or you can claim it was a Maoist organisation against people who were actually involved and are saying it was an anarchist social centre when this all happened. But insisting that I'm being manipulative when you're repeating inaccuracies in the face of multiple corrections is not on.

Nymphalis Antiopa

4 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Nymphalis Antiopa on July 19, 2019

The following can be confirmed by Black Badger if anybody wants to message him.

Originally Black Badger implied that the (to quote B B) "quasi-maoist fuckers" started taking over 'The Holdout', which later became Quilombo, shortly after Occupy 0akland in 2011. But it seems (from a message from BB) it was a lot more drawn out than that. Still, these "quasi-maoist fuckers" stormed the Holdout's meeting in spring 2013, close to a year before the attack in the bookfair. These quasi-maoists bit by bit pushed out the anarchists who'd put in all the work and energy in setting up the place. There was an unconfirmed rumor that the leader of these "quasi-maoist fuckers" had already been asked by some of the anarchist collective to make himself and his immediate circle more publicly prominent after The Holdout was robbed at gunpoint by some neighborhood drug traffickers. The Holdout was officially "closed for renovations" in mid-November 2013, the burning churches comment by LJ was made in December of 2013, Qilombo opened in January 2014, and the storming of the Berkeley Study Group occurred in February or March (just prior to the book fair). The shift to a soft-on-Islam, third worldist, Anti-Racist Anti-Imperialism had already taken hold by the previous November, ie several months before the book fair. The fact that some anarchists hung on until they were purged 8 months later didn't make the conflict between Quilombo and the bookfair stand an internecine anarchist conflict at all. It just makes these anarchists self-defeating masochistic idiots.

So Mike Harman is pissing around with the chronology of events. It's him who is "repeating inaccuracies in the face of multiple corrections".

Moreover, it confirms the idiocy of anarchists collaborating with Leninists (or, as I said, " a maoist-type organisation") and so confirms what I originally said - that collaborating with "quasi-maoist fuckers" is like sitting down with your future executioners. And that MH's statement in his OP - "You're relating to each other as workers in that situation, not as representatives of a political niche, at least we hope not.
Anarchists and Marxist-Leninists have also worked together as members of anti-fascist collectives in the US and elsewhere, and this is really a choice for people to make locally"
is obfuscating a fundamental choice of either watering down one's opposition to authoritarian politics and effectively sitting down with your future executioners or of explicitly and consistently opposing such crap. Whilst these quasi-maoists may not be tankies in the sense of openly supporting the invasion of Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Afghanistan, Tibet, or wherever, my reference to them is pertinent insofar as it relates to the above quote from MH's OP, regardless of whether "tankies" is an accurate term or not.

How can one oppose traditional fascism if you don't oppose red fascism? As Ottot Rühle said 80 years ago, "The Struggle Against Fascism Begins with the Struggle Against Bolshevism". Maoism killed 38 million in the Great Leap Forward (see: https://chinadigitaltimes.net/2018/01/translation-party-history-people-cant-told/ ). And though I'm well aware of being a million miles away from a Spanish-revolution-type situation, from the history of the Spanish revolution we should still be conscious, even in far less significant situations, of what happens to anarchists and other revolutionaries when they collaborate with these red fascists. So - MH - you want history to repeat itself (either as tragedy or as farce or as combinations of the two)? Or what? And if so, what exactly is the point of trying "theoretically" to clarify the difference between a libertarian perspective and an authoritarian one if in practice it means self-destruction of any libertarian (anti-)politics?

comradeEmma

4 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by comradeEmma on July 19, 2019

Otto Rühle and the other councilists were fundamentally wrong though. They thought that fascism having "abolished" or destroyed the use of political parties and trade unions, which would open up new forms of workers self-organisation(this didn't happen). In reality this type of thinking has always ended with strange practice, some exile groups from the Italian communist left for example started solidarity funds for the veterans of the Spanish civil war, and were very clear that it was meant for both those who fought for the Republican forces and those who fought for Franco...

Nymphalis Antiopa

4 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Nymphalis Antiopa on July 19, 2019

LeninistGirl:

Otto Rühle and the other councilists were fundamentally wrong though. They thought that fascism having "abolished" or destroyed the use of political parties and trade unions, which would open up new forms of workers self-organisation(this didn't happen). In reality this type of thinking has always ended with strange practice, some exile groups from the Italian communist left for example started solidarity funds for the veterans of the Spanish civil war, and were very clear that it was meant for both those who fought for the Republican forces and those who fought for Franco...

Otto Rühle does not = "some exile groups from the Italian communist left", so that's irrelevant (that's even if you got it right about "some exile groups from the Italian communist left").

And what do you mean by "the use of political parties and trade unions"? Use for whom? Certainly rulers everywhere have used political parties and trade unions. And if you mean a use for proletarians, how have proletarians, at least since WWl, used political parties and trade unions? In the case of political parties, it's rather the other way round - political parties have used proletarians. In the case of trade unions, it's more complicated but essentially the unions have grown at the expense of proletarian autonomy.

And to say that "new forms of workers self-organisation...didn't happen" is blatantly bullshit - there must be thousands of examples of forms of workers self-organisation that developed outside political parties and trade unions (some of the resistance groups in WWll; the East German uprising of '53; Hungary '56; countless wldcat strikes etc. etc). You really have to lie profoundly to yourself to believe such crap and to justify being such crap - ie a Leninist.

Mike Harman

4 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on July 19, 2019

Nymphalis Antiopa

The fact that some anarchists hung on until they were purged 8 months later didn't make the conflict between Quilombo and the bookfair stand an internecine anarchist conflict at all.

Black Badger

it's important to notice that none of the POC leadership from Qilombo were involved in [the bookfair intervention], just a couple of the white Holdout anarchist holdouts (sorry) who'd set up their informational table plus their friends

I'm assuming Black Badger sent you the same information as me, so how this detail could have slipped I really don't know.

darren p

4 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by darren p on July 19, 2019

LeninistGirl

Otto Rühle and the other councilists were fundamentally wrong though.

And Lenin was "fundamentally right" I suppose?

Nymphalis Antiopa

4 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Nymphalis Antiopa on July 19, 2019

After most of the original anarchists got out of Quilombo, a minority of the original 'anarchists' remained , and they were the public face of Quilombo in their organizational relations with other anarchist projects and individuals, including at the anarchist book fair, the ones that were finally purged before the end of 2014. Given that the "quasi-maoist fuckers" that later became Quilombo had stormed the Holdout's meeting in spring 2013, close to a year before the attack in the bookfair, given that, as Quilombo, they'd stormed the Berkeley Study Group just prior to the bookfair, what made these self-styled anarchists follow in this succession of storming sessions by the "quasi-maoist fuckers" - and this several months after Lawrence Jarach's stupid 'burn black churches' comment? Probably these "anarchists" were ingratiating themselves with these shitheads, whose most prominent member was, according to Black Badger, a fundamentalist muslim. Quilombo's footsoldiers called themselves anarchists but anyone can call themselves an anarchist. It's a basic critical idea that what one thinks of oneself is not the same as what one is socially, any more than the UK or the USA or wherever are "free". Sir Herbert Read called himself an anarchist (being knighted by the Queen for him was not incompatible with such a label); there was a guy who gave advice to Thatcher who called himself an anti-state libertarian; King Edward Vll said "We're all socialists nowadays"; Stalin called himself a communist, etc.etc. The point is that these "anarchists" were utterly submissive to the "quasi-maoist fuckers" and after doing their dirty work for them were discarded, their sell-by date usefulness having expired.

The essential point that MH makes in his OP - that in certain circumstances one can work with authoritarians - is illustrated precisely by this incident and by all the pathetic reactions to it - including Lawrence Jarach's desire to have a dialogue with people who'd physically attacked him and his stall ostensibly because of some idiotic off-the cuff-remark made several months before this attack. And this essential point is the one MH avoids talking about.

Devrim

4 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Devrim on July 19, 2019

Stalinism used to have a massive influence in the working class. I’m old enough to remember how they used this influence to sabotage strikes. I could probably tell you some stories about their behaviour that would shock most young people here.

However, today’s new wave of internet Stalinists have little in common with them. They’re pretty much a joke nowadays. They’re as marginal as any other tendency on the left.

They aren’t about to put anarchists in camps. Personally, I think they’d struggle to put up a tent, let alone set up a camp.

Devrim

Mike Harman

4 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on July 19, 2019

How the goalposts shift.

Nymphalis Antiopa

As for MH's insinuation that I "try to argue the anarchists are secret Leninists" this is certainly "an entirely different argument" because it's not an argument I have used here. He's just playing typical manipulative political games by sneakily trying to imply that I said it.

Nymphalis Antiopa

The fact that some anarchists hung on until they were purged 8 months later didn't make the conflict between Quilombo and the bookfair stand an internecine anarchist conflict at all.

Nymphalis Antiopa

After most of the original anarchists got out of Quilombo, a minority of the original 'anarchists' remained , and they were the public face of Quilombo in their organizational relations with other anarchist projects and individuals, including at the anarchist book fair, the ones that were finally purged before the end of 2014. Given that the "quasi-maoist fuckers" that later became Quilombo had stormed the Holdout's meeting in spring 2013, close to a year before the attack in the bookfair, given that, as Quilombo, they'd stormed the Berkeley Study Group just prior to the bookfair, what made these self-styled anarchists follow in this succession of storming sessions by the "quasi-maoist fuckers" - and this several months after Lawrence Jarach's stupid 'burn black churches' comment? Probably these "anarchists" were ingratiating themselves with these shitheads, whose most prominent member was, according to Black Badger, a fundamentalist muslim. Quilombo's footsoldiers called themselves anarchists but anyone can call themselves an anarchist.... The point is that these "anarchists" were utterly submissive to the "quasi-maoist fuckers" and after doing their dirty work for them were discarded, their sell-by date usefulness having expired.

So, either anarchists, or people that said they were anarchists and were members of an anarchist social centre collective, but weren't really anarchists - this is all I've been saying for multiple comments while you've been calling me manipulative and a liar. It's a bit tiring frankly.

Nymphalis Antiopa

4 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Nymphalis Antiopa on July 20, 2019

MH:

people that... were members of an anarchist social centre collective

No - they weren't. Quilombo had already existed since January 2014. The bookfair attack came a few months later. Quilombo were "quasi-maoist fuckers", not "an anarchist social centre collective".
"It's a bit tiring frankly" It's good of you to be frank for once, but I suggest you catch up on your sleep if you want to stop being tiring. Then maybe you could address the essential point of why I wrote up this stuff, which I repeat for the umpteenth time because you've never really addressed this:

The essential point that MH makes in his OP - that in certain circumstances one can work with authoritarians - is illustrated precisely by this incident and by all the pathetic reactions to it - including Lawrence Jarach's desire to have a dialogue with people who'd physically attacked him and his stall ostensibly because of some idiotic off-the cuff-remark made several months before this attack. And this essential point is the one MH avoids talking about.

Nymphalis Antiopa

4 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Nymphalis Antiopa on July 30, 2019

Devrim:

today’s new wave of internet Stalinists...[a]re pretty much a joke nowadays. They’re as marginal as any other tendency on the left.

- who are also largely a not very funny joke, including the so-called anti-authoritarian scene.
Besides, maoism and other forms of leninism are having a minor resurgence in the USA, and whilst they don't have tanks and are usually little respected, they can still demoralise or confuse various social movements (eg the maoists amongst antifa in the States).

Lucky Black Cat

4 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Lucky Black Cat on August 1, 2019

I'm part of a Marxist group on facebook and today saw a post dissing North Korea but then the comments were crawling with people defending North Korea.
Sorry, I know this has nothing to do with the direction the conversation has taken, I'm just flabbergasted.

Devrim

4 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Devrim on August 1, 2019

Nymphalis, they might be mildly annoying, but they don’t have the power that Stalinists used to have in the West.

Devrim

Nymphalis Antiopa

4 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Nymphalis Antiopa on August 1, 2019

Smashing up a bookstall and threatening the person running it because he'd said, in a moment of idiocy, that we should burn all churches including black churches is more than "mildly annoying". And besides, not opposing these people tends to make so-called "anti-authritarians" become like them. So in Paris, a few years back, various "anti-authoritarians" physically attacked an anarchist library because it opposed all forms of religion, including Islam, one "anti-authoritarian" even suggesting the place be "purefied with fire". And a meeting in Marseille critiquing the rise of intersectionality was trashed and physically broken up by intersectionalists inspired by a more modern form of academic leftism than tankism . Of course, tanfkes don't have the power they used to have before the fall of the Berlin Wall -but the same mentality, however, is being reproduced amongst "anti-authoritarians".

A tolerant indifference to these arseholes undermines any critique of authority the supposed "anti-authoritarians" have of fascism, for example, since they're prepared to tolerate anti-fascists every bit as bad in their model of what "anti-capitalism" means as fascists and other racists. Doesn't matter that they no longer support the invasion of XYZ by state capitalist "communists", Instead they support Stalinists like the PKK every bit as tankie in their mentality as the old Leninoid hacks and go off to fight for Rojava or some other pseudo-"communist" mini-state.

Mike Harman

4 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on August 1, 2019

So here's an actual example of Maoists disrupting anarchist stuff:

Red Guards showed up at La Conxa in LA to disrupt a court support workshop last night:

https://twitter.com/edcns_ineditas/status/1156803230338207744

Nymphalis Antiopa

4 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Nymphalis Antiopa on August 4, 2019

Another example of so-called "mildly annoying" Stalinist-scum behaviour: a guy I know in California , who'd consistently critiqued the RCP in his area, had his cat kidnapped and tortured by these "mildly annoying" red fascists. He somehow retrieved it a few weeks later; it took the cat 5 years to overcome the trauma and become relatively unneurotic. He himself (the cat's owner) had to put up with constant sabotage of his car, including being CS gassed whilst driving by these "mildly annoying" filth, a near-death experience.

Leninism,as the delusion of what revolution means, is on the rise. "Anti-authoritarians" who minimise the psychotic devotion of these "mildly annoying" torturers to the cause of possibly the biggest mass murder sprees in history (e.g.38 million died in the Great Leap Forward alone - see this:
https://chinadigitaltimes.net/2018/01/translation-party-history-people-cant-told/ ) are like turkeys minimising Christmas (or should I say partridges minimising Trotsky). Libcom - tolerating morons like Leninst girl here on this thread - have the effect of minimising a threat that seems as innocuous as the Nazi Party in Germany in 1928.

Ed

4 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Ed on August 2, 2019

Devrim

Stalinism used to have a massive influence in the working class. I’m old enough to remember how they used this influence to sabotage strikes. I could probably tell you some stories about their behaviour that would shock most young people here.

I actually think that these stories would be really beneficial to this discussion so if you've got the time/inclination, Devrim, I'd encourage you to go for it.

My reason being that, given those experiences, I wonder how you think we should relate to Leninists as we encounter them in, for instance, our unions (where once you're engaging with your branch, they're bound to be there)? Because the arguments in this thread seem to be drawing people to a 'no platform' policy similar to that used against fascism (which doesn't seem helpful to me) rather than viewing them as a potential obstacle to be organised around (which I don't think is controversial at all here).

I also wonder what you think about the role of CP militants in things like the 1930s sit-down strikes in America (where Piven and Cloward say they were the most significant rank-and-file organisers, for eg) or the postwar factory/land occupations by partisans (often led by the PCI) in Italy after the fall of fascism. I mean, the flipside is that CP leadership in the US and Italy also served to undermine both movements, but it nonetheless seems to me that in those instances, rank-and-file CPers served to organise/push forward struggle (even if their leadership ended up pushing it back)..

Nymphalis Antiopa

4 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Nymphalis Antiopa on August 2, 2019

In a hierarchy the essential problem is not those at the top, who obviously have an interest in maintaining the hierarchy, but those at the bottom who actively or passively succumb to those at the top (this is whether it be in a Leninist party or more generally in society as a whole). Those at the bottom might initiate something that pushes forward struggle but if their leadership ends up pushing it back it's basically because the hierarchical mentality nurtured by the party means that those at the bottom allow them to push it back. The party mentality encourages such defusing of a struggle in the name of "unity" - ie shut the fuck up &/.or sing from the same songsheet.

Devrim

4 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Devrim on August 4, 2019

While having your cat kidnapped may be slightly more than ‘mildly annoying’ if it happens to you, it’s pretty much an indication of how marginal and pathetic these people are. Doing weird stuff like this to individuals is indicative of people with no power in society, or even in their own lives.

Devrim

darren p

4 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by darren p on August 4, 2019

Mike Harman

So here's an actual example of Maoists disrupting anarchist stuff:

I wonder how much of this is some could be some kind of COINTELPRO thing? Certainly helps the powers that be whatever way...

R Totale

4 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by R Totale on August 4, 2019

I'm usually really really reluctant to go with the "person or group I disagree with must be working for the state" line, but having been aware of this particular group for a while, if there's no-one in their hierarchy getting paid by the state, then they're definitely selling themselves short - if they're not disrupting anarchist stuff, then they're nailing up pigs' heads outside DSA meetings, or trying to break up meetings of other Leninist groups, or writing extended essays about why violence against "postmodernists" is justified, with people who turn up late to meetings offered as one example of "postmodernism", and so on and so on. A very strange lot, in some ways I hope there's some state direction going on there because it'd be a less depressing explanation than people actually being that daft.

Black Badger

4 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Black Badger on August 4, 2019

Occam's Razor, pretty please? Many actual anarchists and anti-state/libertarian communists must already know that Leninists -- especially the more sectarian and disruptive slugs -- are perfectly capable of attacking us without any instructions from outside party cadres. It's been happening for over a century with no need to point fingers at the state and its agents (most of whom are too dense to tell the difference between various sects, and so wouldn't know which ones dislike each other). COINTELPRO was successful to the degree that the penchant/fetish for internal secrecy (which almost inevitably leads to organizational paranoia) in various leftist sects made it possible to write plausible poison pen letters and vague threats signed by obvious rivals. Most COINTELPRO operations were clearly aimed to generate bad blood, bad publicity, and bad choices in order to make it easier for the state to arrest/imprison/execute anyone the state decided is too much of a dissident. That's an entirely different method of disruption than what's been carried out over the past 20-30 years by Maoists, quasi-Maoists, Identity Politicians, and various Lenino-Stalinist creeps against anti-authoritarian projects and individuals. The moves by the latter are clearly designed to quash radical challenges to their parties' attempts to create ideological conformity; the state and its agents couldn't care less about such things.

R Totale

4 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by R Totale on August 4, 2019

Yeah, like I say I'm normally very reluctant to point the finger at the state, I'm aware of how stupid people who always use that as their go-to explanation/insult sound, and I certainly don't see the CIA or whoever as being behind every falling-out. I'm just saying that, in my opinion, the single-minded focus the US Red Guards have on beefing with other leftists or anarchists, and their seeming lack of interest in anything else, seems outside the range of standard Leninist behaviour in a way that seems suspicious to me. I could be wrong, but that's the impression I get.

Black Badger

4 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Black Badger on August 13, 2019

Apparently still nothing to see here...
https://itsgoingdown.org/anti-repression-workshop-attacked-la/

R Totale

4 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by R Totale on August 13, 2019

Black Badger

Apparently still nothing to see here...

Not quite sure who you think has been saying that?

Black Badger

4 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Black Badger on August 13, 2019

Anyone who thinks Maoists and other Stalinists don’t have sufficient social traction to cause harm to anarchists and other anti-state radicals...

Sike

4 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Sike on August 14, 2019

LeninistGirl

Otto Rühle and the other councilists were fundamentally wrong though. They thought that fascism having "abolished" or destroyed the use of political parties and trade unions, which would open up new forms of workers self-organisation(this didn't happen).

The ideas of Otto Rühle and the council communists calling into doubt the revolutionary potential of political parties and unions was not a response to fascism. For instance, Rühle published The Revolution Is Not A Party Affair in 1920, or two years before the seizure of state power by the fascists in Italy.

Otto Rühle and councilist ideas were a response to the betrayal of the workers by the reformist trade union leaders and Social Democrats in Germany and elsewhere after these so-called leaders had betrayed the international solidarity of the workers by coming out in support of their respective national leaders during the First World War. Rühle and other left-communist that embraced councilist ideas were also influenced by the experiences of the autonomous workers councils in the Russian and German revolutions of 1917 and 1919, respectively, as well as their betrayal and suppression by both the Social Democrats in Germany and the Bolshevik Party in Russia.

R Totale

4 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by R Totale on August 14, 2019

I mean, I don't want to downplay how horrible this toxic cult is, but I still agree with what Devrim says above about how this is indicative of people with no social traction at all. Like, looking at fascists I think it's fair to say that a group like Patriot Front are a nuisance, but not a social force comparable to, say, Golden Dawn or the Free Tommy movement; and these freaks sound like a pain to be around, but I don't think the proletariat of LA will be flocking to follow their lead any time soon.

R Totale

4 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by R Totale on August 15, 2019

Angry piece about tankies on leftbook and the London student scene. Always good to see people pushing back against this crap, but the article could really use a decent editor, and I was sort of left feeling that although the author is to be commended on rejecting the politics of self-righteous social media/student scene stalinists, their method of communication is still a bit too similar. Ho hum.

Mike Harman

4 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on August 15, 2019

It's also at least with the groups explicitly named talking about Trots as much as tankies.

Nymphalis Antiopa

4 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Nymphalis Antiopa on August 19, 2019

R.Totale:

I still agree with what Devrim says above about how this is indicative of people with no social traction at all.

For the moment, maybe. But tankies and other, subtler, forms of Leninism had their devastating effect in times of massive class struggle. There are virtually no places in the world where class struggle is as widespread as it used to be even 30 years ago. Should class struggle erupt on a considerably wider scale than now the zombie-vampires of Leninism are also likely to be revived from the graveyard of history, ready to suck the blood out of social contestation.

Devrim:

While having your cat kidnapped may be slightly more than ‘mildly annoying’ if it happens to you, it’s pretty much an indication of how marginal and pathetic these people are. Doing weird stuff like this to individuals is indicative of people with no power in society, or even in their own lives.

In forgetting to mention the fact that the guy could have been killed by the Maoist attack with CS gas attack whilst he was driving his car, he minimises what I said. As for being " indicative of people with no power in society, or even in their own lives" I suspect that that applies to the vast majority of those posting on this site - not just to tankies. The fact that libcom thinks it's often ok to politely debate with red fascists, that even in the OP Harman can say (and I repeat this because it's constantly avoided):

Anarchists and Marxist-Leninists have also worked together as members of anti-fascist collectives in the US and elsewhere, and this is really a choice for people to make locally.

is " indicative of people with no power in society, or even in their own lives".

Meanwhile the impotent tankies of the Morning Stalinist are showing very clearly which side of the Hong Kong barricades they're on: https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/rival-demonstrations-mounted-hong-kong-over-weekend

comradeEmma

4 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by comradeEmma on August 19, 2019

For the moment, maybe. But tankies and other, subtler, forms of Leninism had their devastating effect in times of massive class struggle.

Where has "subtler" forms of leninism had "devastating effect in times of massive class struggle"?

darren p

4 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by darren p on August 19, 2019

LeninistGirl

Where has "subtler" forms of leninism had "devastating effect in times of massive class struggle"?

Tankies got to tank I guess

comradeEmma

4 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by comradeEmma on August 19, 2019

Are tankies "subtle" leninists?

Ed

4 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Ed on August 19, 2019

Nymphalis Antiopa

The fact that libcom thinks it's often ok to politely debate with red fascists, that even in the OP Harman can say (and I repeat this because it's constantly avoided):

Anarchists and Marxist-Leninists have also worked together as members of anti-fascist collectives in the US and elsewhere, and this is really a choice for people to make locally.

is "indicative of people with no power in society, or even in their own lives".

I wonder what constantly posting on a website you hate (and about how much you hate said website, no less) is indicative of.

Nymphalis Antiopa

4 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Nymphalis Antiopa on August 19, 2019

Ed:

I wonder what constantly posting on a website you hate (and about how much you hate said website, no less) is indicative of.

It's indicative not of hate but of disgust for and frustration with so-called anti-authoritarians tolerance for authoritarians that they could easily reject, indicative of a desire and struggle for life, and indicative of a desire for effect, which, since no-one, as far as I can see, has seriously responded to my point about debating with and even participating in organising stuff with red fascists, is maybe indicative of a lack of influence at least. So, in this sense, Ed may be right. But it's not at all "constantly", not nearly as much, by any stretch of the imagination, as the vast majority of stuff on this site devoted to denouncing and critiquing organisations and politics that posters hate or at least really dislike. Ed's attempt to say something about this might seem like a clever point to make, but it's a fairly normal part of internet politics, and of anti-politics in general which anyone who's angry about this world does, including Ed himself. Who reading this only critiques people they like, only goes along to meetings of people they like, only discusses things with people they like, only distributes texts to people they like?

Black Badger

4 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Black Badger on August 19, 2019

seriously, Ed; not very dialectical of you (heh)

R Totale

4 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by R Totale on August 19, 2019

Nymphalis Antiopa

For the moment, maybe. But tankies and other, subtler, forms of Leninism had their devastating effect in times of massive class struggle. There are virtually no places in the world where class struggle is as widespread as it used to be even 30 years ago. Should class struggle erupt on a considerably wider scale than now the zombie-vampires of Leninism are also likely to be revived from the graveyard of history, ready to suck the blood out of social contestation.

I mean, I agree with you here, but that's a bit like saying "if circumstances were very different, then people would behave differently and different things would be appropriate", no? Like, I think one of the points people have been driving at is that it comes across as a bit weird to insist on reacting to things in the UK (or wherever) in 2019 the same way we would as if we were living through a massive class struggle?
I sort of think the whole point of having an analysis is that it lets you distinguish between different things, and if I read an antifascist article that acted as if, say, Atomwaffen, Jobbik, National Action, Pie 'n' Mash and the FN/RN were all basically interchangeable I wouldn't think that was much good either.

darren p

4 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by darren p on August 19, 2019

The original article didn't mention the POUM - I'm not too familiar with their actual texts but think it's fair to say these were 'Leninist' in one way or another - in the same way that the left-communists were. So it is a bit of an oversimplification to think that all kinds of 'Leninism' are the same or do / did present a threat to organized anarchism.

Black Badger

4 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Black Badger on August 19, 2019

darren, if you think the POUM didn't present a threat to the revolutionary gains of the CNT-FAI-FIJL and Mujeres Libres up through 1937, then you definitely don't know enough about their centrist perspectives and their fully pro-state agenda and strategies. most folks seem to think that there was an informal alliance between the CNT and the POUM due to their respective dislike of Stalinism, but even at an informal level (with the probable exceptions of individual members who were on comradely terms), the two movements were beset by rivalry and hostility. in 1921 Nin, one of co-founders of the POUM, traveled to the Soviet Union as a delegate of the CNT to the Profintern while he was a secret member of the PSOE and stayed on, becoming Trotsky's secretary for a time. Maurin, the other co-founder, defected from the CNT in 1924 and became a supporter of the Right Opposition under Bukharin. both leaders of the POUM loathed the CNT's electoral abstentionism and non-involvement in party politics. the two movements were to become reluctant (and purely defensive) allies during the May Days; beyond that, there were few commonalities. with the Stalinists breathing down their necks, the POUM may have become more respectful and less overtly hostile toward their rivals in the CNT, but i have few doubts that had the Stalinists not been as influential a force from 1936, the POUM would have done even more to undermine the anarchist-inspired revolutionary experiments in Spain (and more especially in Catalunya).

darren p

4 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by darren p on August 19, 2019

Black Badger

the POUM would have done even more to undermine the anarchist-inspired revolutionary experiments in Spain (and more especially in Catalunya).

In what ways do you think the POUM undermined the collectives?

Black Badger

4 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Black Badger on August 19, 2019

the POUM was made up primarily of Catalanist petit bourgeois leftists; their class composition made their adherence to collectives ambivalent at best. "It is one thing to attract the middle classes to the revolution and another to form a coalition giving them a decisive role as a governing force...but we uphold their economic claims ..." (La Batalla, Feb. 1937, my emphasis)
anyway, what else could this mean but a total respect for private property?

Helen Graham further states "Moreover, the POUM's numerous criticisms of CNT excess in the implementation of wartime collectivisation introduced yet further tensions to the relationship... At the same time, both the Esquerra and (more realistically) the PSUC were interested in attracting sectors of the POUM's urban base. The old USC Catalanist agenda, as much as the new Comtintern one, was now driving the PSUC to compete with the POUM for the political loyalty of lower-middle-class sectors in the region..." (The Spanish Republic at War: 1936-1939, p 237)

comradeEmma

4 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by comradeEmma on August 19, 2019

Helen Graham further states "Moreover, the POUM's numerous criticisms of CNT excess in the implementation of wartime collectivisation introduced yet further tensions to the relationship...

I mean, that is the same thing that Stalin was criticized for by the right-opposition, you can't really build a sustainable relation between the working-class and peasants through excessive forced collectivization.

The original article didn't mention the POUM - I'm not too familiar with their actual texts but think it's fair to say these were 'Leninist' in one way or another - in the same way that the left-communists were.

POUM was not like "left-communists" and they were as leninist as Bucharin and Trotsky(even if he personally opposed becoming part of the popular front), they were the unification of the right-opposition and left-opposition, and had international ties with the International Revolutionary Marxist Centre. Cosmonaut has a good article on them,

The POUM now stood as the sole independent communist leadership in Spain and immediately began fostering working class support, building a massive base in Catalonia where the BOC had its origins. While critical of the Comintern Popular Front policy, the POUM still entered into the Spanish front against Fascism in 1936. Internationally, the POUM became officially linked with the International Revolutionary Marxist Centre in London after the destruction of the International Communist Opposition.

[...]

Like Bukharin, the POUM supported gradual and voluntary collectivization into communal agriculture against the rushed forced collectivization that many in the Popular Front wished for. In other areas, the POUM found itself again clashing with the status quo of the Popular Front, specifically the Stalinists in the PCE. Even before the post-war years of cowardly “loyal opposition” to the bourgeoisie that the Comintern supported all across Europe, the PCE was already lowering its weapons and supporting bourgeois dictatorship

radicalgraffiti

4 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by radicalgraffiti on August 20, 2019

LeninistGirl

Helen Graham further states "Moreover, the POUM's numerous criticisms of CNT excess in the implementation of wartime collectivisation introduced yet further tensions to the relationship...

I mean, that is the same thing that Stalin was criticized for by the right-opposition, you can't really build a sustainable relation between the working-class and peasants through excessive forced collectivization.

theres a bit of a difference between some peasants deciding to share their stuff and some solders truing up and taking all their stuff

Reddebrek

4 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Reddebrek on August 20, 2019

LeninistGirl

I mean, that is the same thing that Stalin was criticized for by the right-opposition, you can't really build a sustainable relation between the working-class and peasants through excessive forced collectivization.

No it really isn't, the collectivisations in Spain were carried out by the local villagers, that's why the collectives differed quite a bit from village to village with some managing to overhaul the entire rural economy while others confiscated the lands of the wealthy estate holders and called it a day.

In contrast, Stalin dictated how all land in the CCCP should be worked, where all the equipment should be kept, how much each farm should be producing, that short falls were deliberate cases of hoarding, that the military and police could supervise and observe and enforce rural policy etc.

Its one thing to say the POUM were in favour of voluntary collectivisation, (a little odd since they wanted the PF electoral coalition to push through forced nationalisation of industry) but the collectivisation process was largely voluntary.

The POUM now stood as the sole independent communist leadership in Spain and immediately began fostering working class support, building a massive base in Catalonia where the BOC had its origins. While critical of the Comintern Popular Front policy, the POUM still entered into the Spanish front against Fascism in 1936. Internationally, the POUM became officially linked with the International Revolutionary Marxist Centre in London after the destruction of the International Communist Opposition.

This is full of errors, or distortions to make the POUM look more impressive, not only were POUM not the only non CPE communist group operating in Spain at the time but even most sources put it at best 30,000 nationally in 1936 and that would include foreign volunteers in its militia arm.

It also doesn't explain who the IRMC were, an organisation that included the Independent Labour Party and a Zionist organisation doesn't really tell us anything about POUM other then that its leaders were either desperate for friends or ideologically incoherent. Probably why the author didn't elaborate beyond its name.

Its also overall incoherent like this passage here

We can see now the only hope for the Spanish proletariat was revolution and the proletarian dictatorship; the popular government was weak and disjointed, unable to collectivize agriculture or unite the workers into war production at a level that could rival the international support of the Fascists.

So POUM opposed "rushed collectivisation" this is good.

The PF failed to "push collectivisation" this is bad.

This article is full of this double talk,

This was a breaking point with the Stalinists in the PCE who refused to support proletarian seizure of state power out of fear it would break the Popular Front, favoring ‘progressive’ reforms to placate the bourgeois elements of the popular government.

POUM had also tried to get the Popular Front to adopt reforms.

This is a long article with little to no substantial criticism of the POUM, quite obviously absolves them of all faults and praises them for doing things it will then criticise others for and in the references was taking exclusively from pro POUM sources.

I mean look at this conclusion

The lessons are rather easy to sum up; never surrender the call for workers’ power, the fight for working-class political power never ends regardless of context, and the presence of communists in a Popular Front is not for the purpose of defending bourgeois dictatorship, but for the garnering of power so that once the working class is strong enough the proletarian leadership can cast away the bourgeoisie and conclude in the only way possible – proletarian dictatorship.

According to the rest of the article POUM did all of these things, and all it got them was their destruction. So ultimately the article is pointless because the conclusion is not borne out by its own evidence.

Nymphalis Antiopa

4 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Nymphalis Antiopa on August 20, 2019

In response to this by me:

tankies and other, subtler, forms of Leninism had their devastating effect in times of massive class struggle. There are virtually no places in the world where class struggle is as widespread as it used to be even 30 years ago. Should class struggle erupt on a considerably wider scale than now the zombie-vampires of Leninism are also likely to be revived from the graveyard of history, ready to suck the blood out of social contestation.

R.Totale said:

that's a bit like saying "if circumstances were very different, then people would behave differently and different things would be appropriate", no?

No.
It's like saying that someone who'd raped women during a situation where rape culture was considered perfectly ok (say under Genghis Khan) and then circumstances had changed and he stopped trying to rape - but only because there were hardly any women around - would not revert to type once women returned to where he was living. The fact that there might not be many women around may have something to do with the fact that they'd been raped before and that they didn't want to return to somewhere where there'd been a rape culture. Much of the defeat of class struggle in the 20th century owes itself to the false opposition of Leninism and its influence, in part because people did not want a society and culture every bit as bad as rape. Any idiot would prefer western forms of capitalism than a "communism" that could produce https://chinadigitaltimes.net/2018/01/translation-party-history-people-cant-told/ 38 million deaths in China through forced collectivisation, for example.

It's not a question of reacting the same way but of being clear what it is about the various forms of Leninism (and of much of Marxism, also) that need to be opposed: statist ideology as being in the service of the working class; the ideology of the masses as distinct from the masses of individuals; representation of the working class; consciousness as an intellectual possession that others need to possess, as a hierarchical notion that others need to have raised, etc.

This is certainly not to imply that all Leninists are "interchangeable", but to make clear that if you oppose authority in its fascist form then it's only logical to also oppose authority in other forms.

Which doesn't mean opposition to doing things (eg participating in a strike, a riot or an occupation) with individuals who call themselves Leninists (as long as they're not in political parties), any more than it means opposition to doing things with people whom you might find have racist, homophobic, or sexist views (as long as they're not in organisations that promote such views). It just means not working with them in the sense of doing some precise conscious activity like writing a leaflet. Leninism, conjoined with private capitalism, is currently being opposed in Hong Kong. Would it make sense to work there with those who advocated a form of the same horrible system?

R Totale

4 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by R Totale on August 20, 2019

I suppose one (sort of) interesting question is, without wanting to get all "arguments about 1917/1936 101", if we agree that groups like the SRs and the POUM had the potential to play the same kind of counter-revolutionary role that the Bolsheviks and PCE did, then what measures should have been taken against them, and indeed against the Bolsheviks or PCE? Or, for that matter, if a revolution breaks out tomorrow, then what measures should be taken against Leninist groups, and how would those differ from the Leninist suppression of other revolutionary currents, beyond just "we're right and they're wrong"? I suppose there's also similar relevant questions to be asked about Rojava.

Nymphalis Antiopa

4 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Nymphalis Antiopa on August 21, 2019

Do you really think Leninism is a revolutionary current (though I might be misreading the insinuation implied by the use of "other" in the phrase "other revolutionary currents")?
Again, I might not understand your question "what measures should be taken against Leninist groups,and how would those differ from the Leninist suppression of other revolutionary currents, beyond just "we're right and they're wrong"? but it seems obvious that Leninists are hierarchical, manipulative and are a power-in-waiting. If you can't differ from all that crap (including opposing the absurd support for Rojava by people who pretend to be libertarians of various kinds) then you really must be going round in endless circles in your head because you can't make the slightest objectively consequential decision that would make a difference, a difference to yourself at least.

R Totale

4 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by R Totale on August 24, 2019

Nymphalis Antiopa

Do you really think Leninism is a revolutionary current (though I might be misreading the insinuation implied by the use of "other" in the phrase "other revolutionary currents")?

Well, I think it's fair to say that, for instance, Lenin's lot were "revolutionary" in the sense that they did genuinely want to overthrow the Tsar and the Provisional Assembly, and that most of his followers today want something along the same lines. But this is mostly beside the point - you and I can happily agree that Leninism is counterrevolutionary, but there's also plenty of Leninists who will explain at length how you and I are counterrevolutionary petit-bourgeois individualist CIA agents or whatever, and can back it up with the immortal science of dialectical materialism, so I don't think "can they be described as counterrevolutionary?" is much of a guide to anything.

Again, I might not understand your question "what measures should be taken against Leninist groups,and how would those differ from the Leninist suppression of other revolutionary currents, beyond just "we're right and they're wrong"? but it seems obvious that Leninists are hierarchical, manipulative and are a power-in-waiting. If you can't differ from all that crap (including opposing the absurd support for Rojava by people who pretend to be libertarians of various kinds) then you really must be going round in endless circles in your head because you can't make the slightest objectively consequential decision that would make a difference, a difference to yourself at least.

I mean, I was kind of thinking about revolutionary situations, so having such a conversation in 2019 isn't really that objectively consequential. I was more sort of thinking, if we were in a position to decide such things, does the fact that Leninists are hierarchical, manipulative and so on, mean that, for instance, Leninist groups shouldn't be allowed the freedoms demanded by the Kronstadt rebels?
And on Rojava, I was sort of thinking about criticisms we can make of Rojava, and the fact that criticisms are only vaguely meaningful if we have some sort of idea about what we'd do differently - so, if we say the PYD is too authoritarian, statist, repressive, etc, does that mean, in contrast to them, that we'd want to give the other Kurdish factions, like the KDP-S and so on, more freedom and room to operate, or nah?

Nymphalis Antiopa

4 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Nymphalis Antiopa on August 25, 2019

Lenin's lot were "revolutionary" in the sense that they did genuinely want to overthrow the Tsar and the Provisional Assembly

The rising French bourgeoisie (and the rising bourgeoisie of Oliver Cromwell 140 years before them) also genuinely wanted to overthrow their respective monarchies and the feudal system, though obviously with far less clarity and development than Lenin & co (which is to say, I'm not making a simplistic equivalent here, though there are aspects that are comparable).

you and I can happily agree that Leninism is counterrevolutionary, but there's also plenty of Leninists who will explain at length how you and I are counterrevolutionary petit-bourgeois individualist CIA agents or whatever, and can back it up with the immortal science of dialectical materialism, so I don't think "can they be described as counterrevolutionary?" is much of a guide to anything.

It might not be a guide but it still needs to be said, and backed up by examples of how those in Leninist political organisations repress independent struggle, whether of their own members or outside their organisations. I know of one women in a Leninist organisation who was told to end a sexual/love relation with an escaped prisoner - and she chose the organisation above her individual desires (other than the desire to continue in the organisation). I've been told of how the SWP manipulated and sabotaged a hospital occupation and killed it dead (see: https://libcom.org/library/occupational-therapy-university-college-hospital-strikes-occupations-1992 ). There are thousands of similar examples obviously.
As for

if we were in a position to decide such things, does the fact that Leninists are hierarchical, manipulative and so on, mean that, for instance, Leninist groups shouldn't be allowed the freedoms demanded by the Kronstadt rebels?

if I ever had the luck or misfortune to live such a situation, I would not exactly be " in a position to decide such things" though I'd definitely have the power of my voice, my ideas and actions that could influence such things. Decision would (or, at least, should) be in the hands of all those concerned. And I personally would do all I could to try to make sure that the manipulations of Leninists or other political rackets were ineffectual, as I would hope you would.
The Kronstadt statement you linked to declares " Freedom of speech and press for workers, peasants, Anarchists and Left Socialist Parties" and advocates the liberation of " all political prisoners of Socialist Parties". But is it a question of "freedom of speech and press" (or nowadays, internet freedom, etc)? And why only for " workers, peasants, Anarchists and Left Socialist Parties"? People say horrible things which have horrible consequences, regardless of whether they call themselves "workers, peasants, Anarchists and Left Socialist Parties" or not. In front of me I sometimes get furious if someone advocates the kind of stuff Leninists advocate, so why would that be different in a "revolutionary" situation? There's always a difference between political manipulation and the desire to have an honest influence, and there's a danger in adopting a liberal tolerant mentality that says " who are you to decide?" when you're trying to be decisive for yourself first of all and trying to influence others to be decisive.

In May '68 the Enragés refused to participate in an occupation where Stalinists were allowed to speak and to manipulate the situation. Class struggle is a power struggle unlike normal power struggles insofar as it's not a competition for hierarchical control but a struggle against hierarchical control. Stopping some bureaucrat or professional liar speaking has often been part of struggle, and it seems you're ambivalent about the critique of the ideology of "free speech". If it was right, for instance, to subvert the disgusting discourse of Milo Yiannopoulos in Berkeley back in February 2017 (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/02/facism-alt-right-activists-trump-milo-yiannopoulos ), wouldn't it also be right to subvert the kind of discourse that could lead to the concentration camps of Xinjiang, Stalin's gulags or Kronstadt? The ideology "I do not agree with what you say but i will defend to the death your right to say it" has always been a lie, even in the mouth olf Voltaire (who did not defend to the death many people's free speech), though it seems you reserve this right for those who declare themselves to be anarchist or socialist or XYZist. But it's not a question of "right" but a question of a sometimes ferocious argument, an argument that can sometimes lead to a physical fight.

Re. Rojava, I am in no position to give any faction "more freedom and room to operate" - and I suspect neither are you. But you are in a position to critique them and to try to influence people not to go to Rojava, or at least not to go there with any illusion that things are somehow more liberated there than under any other state. But you seem to be arguing from a position of having some hierarchical decision-making power to do this, that or the other, when, for me, it's a question of affirming and arming as much as possible my critiques and desires in situations largely out of my control in order to possibly make them less out of my control, less alien to my non-hierarchical desires and critiques, critiques based partly on a comprehension of historical precedents.
Constant ambivalence comes from an excessive self-doubt stultifying the need to make a decision, the need to overcome confusion.

R Totale

4 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by R Totale on September 29, 2019

1) Final Straw Radio did an interview with people from La Conxa, the anarchist space that's been having Maoist trouble recently, that you can listen to here. Of potential interest to people here is that they mention they're putting together a zine of essays about "red flags" to look out for (pun presumably very much intended), which anyone who's interested can contribute to by contacting them at [email protected]

2) in the course of the interview they mention a zine called "Always Against the Tanks: Three Essays on Red Nationalism", which I'd never heard of before - looking it up, it turns out to consist of the original post here and the "Is Genocide Denial Anti-Imperialist?" rant mentioned earlier in the thread, along with another anonymous article called "Ending the Idealization of the Other" that I hadn't previously heard of.

R Totale

2 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by R Totale on November 7, 2021

If anyone's interested, there's a two-hour podcast discussion of the "against the tanks" zine here:
https://mkelitsupply.com/2021/10/31/mke-lit-supply-podcast-episode-9-always-against-the-tanks/