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'Champagne Anarchism'

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Atanvarno's picture
Atanvarno
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Mar 28 2011 23:29
'Champagne Anarchism'

A few questions to see what people think. Can a member of the bourgeoisie be an anarcho-syndicalist/anarcho-communist? The fight emphasises class conflict, but can class traitors fight on the side of the workers - e.g. can a privately educated student at a leading university with capitalist parents renounce their bourgeois background in solidarity with the working class?
Is an unemployed worker dependent on bourgeois profit a member of the bourgeoisie - e.g. one who relies partly on the income of a bourgeois family member in the absence of available work?
How best can one 'trapped' in undesired membership of the bourgeoisie escape it and join the workers? Is it enough merely to be employed (or state dependent) or is the presence of a safety net in the form of one's family sufficient that one should remain bourgeois regardless of one's employment?

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Joseph Kay
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Mar 28 2011 23:42

I think it's generally fine - loads of famous anarchists have come from wealthy backgrounds (Peter Kropotkin and Mikhail Bakunin come to mind).

The only real problem would be if you personally were in a position to say, hire and fire workers, which would put you at odds with workers' interests whatever your ideas - but even this is something that's hotly debated on these forums, with some saying it's only the ideas that matter.

You can't help what you're born into, you can choose what side you're on to a great extent. I mean some anarchists are suspicious of 'posh' people, cautious that it might just be a rebellious phase or whatnot. Perhaps that caution is wise. But it's not as if all working class born people are solid lifelong revolutionaries who'd never cross a picket line etc.

Welcome to the boards red n black star

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Atanvarno
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Mar 28 2011 23:56

I suppose it was a bit transparent that I was talking about myself. tongue
I'm very much petty bourgeoisie - my dad's a self-employed shopkeeper who makes less money than my working class mum, and I'm an unemployed student who'd be on benefits if they didn't reject me on spurious grounds (supposedly 'incomplete' forms as opposed to not meeting the requirements of the means tests). He and I (and his mother and his mother's father etc. etc.) have all gone to the same private school, but haven't been able to afford it for generations - my gran was a single mother and her three sons were there on substantial bursaries, as was I.
Nonetheless I can't help but feel hypocritical that I'm dependent partially on the income of a shopkeeper and that the only working class people I was ever even exposed to before going to university were some of my mum's family.
I've been interested in joining either the AF or the SF (or both?) since the March for the Alternative on Saturday, where I was keen to get involved in direct action (as I have been at previous demos) but again allowed myself to be carried along by the individualistic self-preservation of the people I was with rather than throwing myself into a kettle or doomed occupation in solidarity. Observing the black bloc action of the more radical elements of the protest in opposition to what I felt to be my own cowardice and hypocrisy left me feeling that I was fiddling while Rome burnt.

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Joseph Kay
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Mar 28 2011 23:56

that was a generic 'you', but yeah kinda haha tongue

like i say you can't help what you're born into. nobody expects you to live a life of voluntary poverty for the sake of 'proletarian purity' of some such. i wouldn't worry about it really. i mean there are anarchists who would make a big deal out of it, but probably not many of those on these boards, going by previous discussions.

Yorkie Bar
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Mar 29 2011 06:01
Quote:
I'm very much petty bourgeoisie - my dad's a self-employed shopkeeper who makes less money than my working class mum, and I'm an unemployed student who'd be on benefits if they didn't reject me on spurious grounds (supposedly 'incomplete' forms as opposed to not meeting the requirements of the means tests). He and I (and his mother and his mother's father etc. etc.) have all gone to the same private school, but haven't been able to afford it for generations - my gran was a single mother and her three sons were there on substantial bursaries, as was I.

My dad's middle management in a software company & my mum's an academic with an EU grant; I currently survive almost entirely on handouts from them like the student scum that I am wink . No one in the AF will care if your dad's a shopkeeper; nor in SolFed I'd imagine - so long as you're willing to work with us and agree with our politics we're happy to have you!

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Steven.
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Mar 29 2011 08:38

Any bourgeois anarchists who want to be genuinely proletarian I can arrange it for you. I will send you my details so you can put all your property, holdings and investments in my name.

You're very welcome.

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Malva
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Mar 29 2011 10:07

Karl Marx came from a bourgeois background, he married a princess and one of his in-laws (if I recall rightly) was the head of the Prussian Police force. Also, Engels actually ran his father's factories and used this money to support the entire Marx family. I think historical materialism can incorporate these kind of contradictions quite easily.

(btw: I'm not advocating Engels, I'm just pointing it out.)

Battlescarred
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Mar 29 2011 09:29

Hmmm, what I always resented however, and bearing in mind the above, is people from that background thinking they had a right to lead and tell us prole anarchists what to do ( I met a few from an Oxford University background who joined the Anarchist Workers Association in the 1970s who had this arrogant and condescending attitude).

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Mar 29 2011 09:37

I totally agree with you battlescarred. But surely within libertarian communism there is a total rejection of leaders and anyone who claims to 'represent' the working-class anyway. If anyone tries to do that then they aren't really revolutionaries and they need that pointing out to them. Oh and Guy Debord, who was one of the most famous critics of this sort of thing, was also from a bourgeois background.

Caiman del Barrio
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Mar 29 2011 15:54
Battlescarred wrote:
Hmmm, what I always resented however, and bearing in mind the above, is people from that background thinking they had a right to lead and tell us prole anarchists what to do ( I met a few from an Oxford University background who joined the Anarchist Workers Association in the 1970s who had this arrogant and condescending attitude).

ie you need to challenge the sense of entitlement that is implied by coming from a privileged background (if you yourself see it thus). Just like how you should challenge the sense of privilege that (general, not specific) you may feel being white, male, etc, etc...

Battlescarred
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Mar 29 2011 16:26

What are you on about, because I for one cannot undwerstand what you mean. Oh and thanks for the advice, as if I didn't do that, sonny.

Battlescarred
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Mar 29 2011 16:27
Malva wrote:
I totally agree with you battlescarred. But surely within libertarian communism there is a total rejection of leaders and anyone who claims to 'represent' the working-class anyway. If anyone tries to do that then they aren't really revolutionaries and they need that pointing out to them. Oh and Guy Debord, who was one of the most famous critics of this sort of thing, was also from a bourgeois background.

Really? I didn't know that, but thanks for the advice.Tssk!!

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888
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Mar 29 2011 16:51

I don't think they were talking to you specifically, Battlescarred.

Who are the people who think it's ok to be an anarchist boss on here?

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Malva
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Mar 29 2011 18:13

Indeed, I was just speaking generally.

petey
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Mar 29 2011 18:23

my father was a bus driver and my mother was a nurse*, so there i'm pure proletarian, anything i say is ipso facto correct.
srsly: on the one hand it matters not at all your background, as someone above said you don't choose it. on the other hand i think it's fundamental to understanding class politics to have experience of the victimization of employment as it's presently constructed. i suppose the example of engels contradicts this tho'.

*viz. body-jailer

Boris Badenov
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Mar 29 2011 20:39

Anyone can be an an anarchist or join an anarchist club; not everyone has the power to challenge capital and the state. It takes organised independent workers to do that, and nothing else. That's when class actually matters, when it becomes more than a trivial "social identity" and turns into a powerful weapon.
An isolated "pure" proletarian is as impotent as an isolated "petit bourgeois" anarchist.

LBird
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Mar 29 2011 20:52
petey wrote:
...i think it's fundamental to understanding class politics to have experience of the victimization...

But since anything is only experienced through a theory, surely it's just as correct to argue that "it's fundamental to understanding experience to have class politics".

Surely the two, class politics and class experience are interconnected?

If this is so, we can't logically prioritise either - thus, it would seem, a bourgeois with only class politics is in much the same position as a proletarian with only class experience. That is, they both need the missing other for a real understanding - ie. Communism.

What do you think? Genuine question.

petey
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Mar 30 2011 19:19
LBird wrote:
But since anything is only experienced through a theory

i take that one comes to one's experiences with a prefabricated set of ideas about their interpretation, but that does not mean that the interpretation cannot change, and that change comes not solely through argumentation. in fact, pace

Quote:
If this is so, we can't logically prioritise either

,

the older i get the more i think that experience does have priority. the proletarian with only class experience can become or remain a rightwinger (the what's the matter with kansas situation), but without that experience there can be little expectation of knowing what needs to be fixed, before theorizing what the fix is.

i know that i'm working from analogies within my own life: not being black (e.g.) i hesitate strongly before formulating a position on how one's status as black affects/ought to affect one's politics, because i can never really know what goes into that experience, and it is a specific experience. likewise i think that if you don't have the experience for some stretch of time of being at the mercy of a boss you can't understand what victimization the hierarchy of economic class brings.

LBird
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Mar 30 2011 19:55
petey wrote:
...that does not mean that the interpretation cannot change, and that change comes not solely through argumentation...

Yeah, you're right: 'interpretation' can change, and not just through debate, as experience is vital to that process.

petey wrote:
the older i get the more i think that experience does have priority.

It's funny, isn't it, that the older I get, the more I think politics has the priority.

This is no doubt due to the years, nay decades, of seeing working class people have the proletarian experience, but not change their 'ruling class' ideas. Most not even being prepared to consider alternatives, even when loud-mouthed Communist bastards like me are available for consultation. Certainly not being prepared to join me on picket lines, demonstrations, unions, leafletting, posting flyers, etc. No-one seems to give a fuck about theory and practice, theory alone, practice alone, practice and theory, or any other combination. Sometimes, I'm close to muttering 'Panem et Circenses'.

I suppose the $64,000 question is: 'how do we add our ideas to their experiences?'.

Well, I seriously hope I'm wrong, petey, and you are right, and the coming exploitative class experiences are enough in themselves to get workers to want to cast around for various alternative answers, including our Communist ones. I'm afraid I, at least, will run out of steam (if I haven't already, to be truthful).