Submitted by birdtiem on December 22, 2021

Anybody on here know if both parts or either half of Monsieur Dupont are still producing anything politically? Writing, analysis, whatever?

Fozzie

4 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

One of them is here

https://twitter.com/a_certain_plume

https://insipidities.blogspot.com/

birdtiem

4 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Jesus fucking christ, he's gone down the covid conspiracy rabbithole too...?? What a shame... So many people have just gone straight off the deep-end these past two years and it's been gutting to witness. Thanks for the links, even though I now somewhat regret having asked.

Fozzie

4 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

It's certainly not great. Perhaps a consequence of boldly thinking the unthinkable + isolation, I'm not sure.

Steven.

4 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Hold on, so was Lazy Riser related to Monsieur DuPont? That was something I had no idea about.
That said, can't say I'm surprised about either of them getting into conspiracy Covid nonsense unfortunately.

Fozzie

4 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I think Lazy Riser on here was a former Class War type? I’d be surprised if they became a Dupont- and the writing style seems very different.

Juan Conatz

4 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

When contrarianism as politics goes a bit too far...

birdtiem

4 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

[EDIT: this was a reply to Steven; apparently I don't know how to use the quote function!]

On your second point, I'm from the USA and don't know these people personally. I knew people who were sort of enamored with them when I was younger, and at the time, I found the writing style irritating and also had a somewhat kneejerk defensive reaction to most of their criticisms of the left.

I went back and reread some of their stuff years later, and while I still found the writing style pretentious and off-putting, I found their criticisms of 'the left' (as a concrete grouping that they'd had direct experience with, rather than some vague amorphous entity), of national liberation, of identity politics...to be extremely valid.

If nothing else, they came across as people who had been deeply principled for a very long time, and I guess it's the latter part more that anything that makes it shocking to me to see that twitter account, which is approvingly QTing two of the most insidious third-positionist podcasters in the USA, people with a basically proto-fascist politics. But as I said, I don't know these guys personally, and maybe there are details that make that less shocking to people who do, idk.

birdtiem

4 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I found this on Twitter just a minute ago, ironically it's very recent, but I don't know anything about the poster or his/her political bent: https://twitter.com/nihil_evadere/status/1471642208503668736

birdtiem

4 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

It's funny, when there's no possibility of doing anything beyond an individual level w/r/t workplace action, I periodically tend to try to find organizations and individuals online (being that I live in a small, conservative opioid-ravaged suburb) whose political beliefs are close to mine, and each time I do it, I come away more demoralized than the last. Not only is virtually everyone you find an academic who is 'doing radical politics' as part of a CAREER (that MD didn't fit this bill was admittedly part of the appeal), the politics themselves are generally shit as well. Approaching my mid-thirties now and definitely ready for the 'I'm no longer going to waste any more of my life like this' phase. Yet here I am on libcom, so who knows. K I'm done, sorry.

adri

4 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Not only is virtually everyone you find an academic who is 'doing radical politics' as part of a CAREER (that MD didn't fit this bill was admittedly part of the appeal), the politics themselves are generally shit as well.

Is this that widespread, and what careers are people making out of radical politics (besides teaching etc.)? I think there's definitely a critique to be made of capitalist education and leftist/reformist academics (at whatever level), but it's not like most radicals with non-STEM focuses have much to look forward to career-wise, except to just be slightly better off maybe. I could personally understand radicals who go into the humanities just because the idea of everything else being geared toward the valorization of capital doesn't appeal to them (not to say people can't use STEM-skills for revolutionary ends, but that's not where the money is).

birdtiem

4 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Teaching certainly seems to be the main one so I'm not sure why you've specifically excluded it? At any rate, I don't know how to 'objectively' evaluate how 'widespread' something is in the tiny orbit of communist politics, particularly when - as I've said - this is done thru the internet. I do know that, even as the proportion of working class people attending university has undoubtedly increased, it continues to be *disproportionately* working class people for whom university is inaccessible/impractical/not-possible, for a whole host of reasons.

My sentiment is not that people with the means/ability/desire to pursue careers in academia should abstain from doing so; that would be ludicrous. Absolutely, go for it. It's just very bizarre to me that there is this stratum of people I basically never ever *even cross paths with* in my day-to-day life, yet when I go looking specifically for radical working class politics, those are precisely the people I find: ppl doing phds at like Columbia U while teaching and writing articles for 'radical' publications or working on 'their book'; ppl doing postdoctorate fellowships (I'll be honest, idk what that even is) in Berlin or Madrid. At the very least, virtually everybody seems to have attended university, most seem to have completed a degree, and a stunning proportion seem to have phds or to be in the process of completing their phd. I barely completed high school, and maybe to some extent it's my own self-consciousness at play, but I always end up with the distinct sense that these are highly exclusive social circles and I don't have the appropriate pedigree.

adri

4 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Not only is virtually everyone you find an academic who is 'doing radical politics' as part of a CAREER (that MD didn't fit this bill was admittedly part of the appeal), the politics themselves are generally shit as well.

Teaching certainly seems to be the main one so I'm not sure why you've specifically excluded it?

I was genuinely curious because it would be unusual if everyone you've encountered taught at universities, which requires at least a master's most of the time. That's a bit different from coming across undergraduate/graduate students in the humanities (who may or may not go into teaching), and those are not "academics who are doing radical politics as part of a career." Most teachers and students in the humanities are also far from "living the high life"; many take on loads of debt, and I've personally met a couple graduates working retail before. I understand however disliking "educated" leftist snobs, people over at Jacobin, etc.

Steven.

4 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Fozzie

I think Lazy Riser on here was a former Class War type? I’d be surprised if they became a Dupont- and the writing style seems very different.

That's right, former CW. And he didn't seem to have anything in common with MD, hence my confusion, because I thought it was you who said that a member of MD ran these:

https://twitter.com/a_certain_plume

https://insipidities.blogspot.com/

But these are by Lazy Riser – you can see every tweet is signed "LR"

Fozzie

4 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Yep yep. I saw that too.

Still doubt they are the same people though.

I claim no special insights on this or anything. Just seems unlikely.

birdtiem

4 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

FWIW, the blog Fozzie linked earlier (by the same person who signs their *Twitter posts* 'Lasy Rizer') has links to a bunch of nihilist communism/monsieur dupont stuff and, based on the twitter thread I linked a few posts above, he does seem to have been part of the MD duo. The pompous writing style is definitely consistent... Maybe he jacked the name Lasy Rizer (swapped letters and all) after seeing it on libcom. Which would itself be an extremely weird thing to do. Maybe we'll get some input from someone who actually knows the guy, altho the forums don't seem to be anywhere near as active as they were when I used to lurk here back in the day, so maybe not.

Battlescarred

4 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90t8vOnKcMU

R Totale

4 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

birdtiem

Teaching certainly seems to be the main one so I'm not sure why you've specifically excluded it? At any rate, I don't know how to 'objectively' evaluate how 'widespread' something is in the tiny orbit of communist politics, particularly when - as I've said - this is done thru the internet. I do know that, even as the proportion of working class people attending university has undoubtedly increased, it continues to be *disproportionately* working class people for whom university is inaccessible/impractical/not-possible, for a whole host of reasons.

My sentiment is not that people with the means/ability/desire to pursue careers in academia should abstain from doing so; that would be ludicrous. Absolutely, go for it. It's just very bizarre to me that there is this stratum of people I basically never ever *even cross paths with* in my day-to-day life, yet when I go looking specifically for radical working class politics, those are precisely the people I find: ppl doing phds at like Columbia U while teaching and writing articles for 'radical' publications or working on 'their book'; ppl doing postdoctorate fellowships (I'll be honest, idk what that even is) in Berlin or Madrid. At the very least, virtually everybody seems to have attended university, most seem to have completed a degree, and a stunning proportion seem to have phds or to be in the process of completing their phd. I barely completed high school, and maybe to some extent it's my own self-consciousness at play, but I always end up with the distinct sense that these are highly exclusive social circles and I don't have the appropriate pedigree.

I mean, I definitely get what you're saying, but I suppose there is also the thing that academics and similar types have their personal brand to promote, so it makes sense for them to make themselves visible, whereas for just working class people who are communists but don't get to write about communism for our jobs, the risk/reward ratio of making ourselves visible online is very different so it makes sense to make our online profiles more anonymous and give less information about who we are. I'm sure the stuff you're noticing 100% exists as well, I just reckon that might be an aggravating factor, I suppose?

comradeEmma

4 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

If nothing else, they came across as people who had been deeply principled for a very long time, and I guess it's the latter part more that anything that makes it shocking to me to see that twitter account, which is approvingly QTing two of the most insidious third-positionist podcasters in the USA, people with a basically proto-fascist politics. But as I said, I don't know these guys personally, and maybe there are details that make that less shocking to people who do, idk.

It doesn't feel that far fetched from the original writings from what I remember. The core of Nihilist Communism is on some level that we can't really change the world through organizing, therefore also a hostility towards the "left" in general.

adri

4 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

More on universities, I guess it's also worth noting a number of recent and historical movements/protests have been sparked by, or at least involved, students (France in '68 for instance, as well as the 19th century "going to the peasants" movement led by student-narodniks in Russia). Most famous radicals of the 19th century essentially "broke ranks" with the upper/middle classes (businessman Engels and prince Kropotkin for example). There are of course exceptions, but the exclusiveness of education at the time, along with illiteracy among the lower classes (peasantry/workers) and their preoccupation with simply surviving, contributed to radically-minded people mostly coming from the upper echelons (which is not to say the lower classes never resisted the conditions imposed upon them). While still far from accessible to everyone, it's not like the majority of people involved in academics today are living comfortably as compared to the rest of the working class. Making one-off contributions to left-leaning magazines for example is not a "career," and is not really the same as being part of the editorial staff or holding some other full-time position. It's really not uncommon to see students, at least those not coming from wealthy backgrounds, working "blue collar" jobs, and again the prospects for students in the humanities are only slightly better (if even) than most blue collar workers. You could also rightly argue whether people should even bother with capitalist education to begin with, but I guess the appeal (for people who have a choice) is having a slightly better life.

birdtiem

It's just very bizarre to me that there is this stratum of people I basically never ever *even cross paths with* in my day-to-day life, yet when I go looking specifically for radical working class politics, those are precisely the people I find: ppl doing phds at like Columbia U while teaching and writing articles for 'radical' publications or working on 'their book'; ppl doing postdoctorate fellowships (I'll be honest, idk what that even is) in Berlin or Madrid.

I also don't see why it's so "strange" for people involved with academics to sympathize with the working class (which they're mostly a part of today) or radical politics.

Battlescarred

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90t8vOnKcMU

More importantly, Sandie and Marr should definitely reform the Smiths without Moz

R Totale

4 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

comradeEmma

It doesn't feel that far fetched from the original writings from what I remember. The core of Nihilist Communism is on some level that we can't really change the world through organizing, therefore also a hostility towards the "left" in general.

I mean, I was never a big fan of their original work, but there's a big gulf between that, which is not that far off from standard ultra-left positions, and taking up positions that are third-position/pro-fascist-sympathetic. I mean, lots of people have "a hostility towards 'the left' in general", arguably the one thing that unites most of the left is agreeing that most of the left is shit.

adri

I also don't see why it's so "strange" for people involved with academics to sympathize with the working class (which they're mostly a part of today) or radical politics.

I don't think anyone's saying that academics shouldn't have radical or pro-working-class politics, I think what birdtiem was saying is that it's a bit worrying when this group, which makes up a tiny tiny proportion of the population at large, or of the working class, is so vastly over-represented in radical politics. Or everyone who isn't an academic is so under-represented, if you want to look at it that way. As mentioned above, I think there probably is a visibility bias here, in that academics have career incentives to maintain a visible presence that don't apply to other people, but I do recognise it as being a real issue as well. That's not really saying anything much against academics, like I don't have any particular objection to vegan crusties but I think it's an issue if/when radical spaces are disproportionately dominated by them as well.

Spikymike

4 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

This is one of the last connections I had with old comrades in 2018 one of which had bean connected with MD. A book I eventually bought and read even if it was a bit of a struggle given my lack of knowledge of certain of the areas covered. Either way it is fairly squarely relevant to many of the areas of interest and past discussions on this site and a challenge to some from both an anarchist and Marxist influenced politics. I never got further, prior to this, in a partial agreement with the author on a limited area of what was a former common communist political outlook.
See here:
https://dreamflesh.com/interview/primitive-heresies-peter-harrison/
Maybe someone else who has read the book referred to in this interview might follow up with a critical review.
By the way there are several past critical discussions of MD and associated authors of that project (including one on 'Species Being') on libcom, which though they might irritate some are still worthy of rereading in some cases to sharpen up your critical faculties.

adri

4 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

R Totale

adri

I also don't see why it's so "strange" for people involved with academics to sympathize with the working class (which they're mostly a part of today) or radical politics.

I don't think anyone's saying that academics shouldn't have radical or pro-working-class politics, I think what birdtiem was saying is that it's a bit worrying when this group, which makes up a tiny tiny proportion of the population at large, or of the working class, is so vastly over-represented in radical politics. Or everyone who isn't an academic is so under-represented, if you want to look at it that way. As mentioned above, I think there probably is a visibility bias here, in that academics have career incentives to maintain a visible presence that don't apply to other people, but I do recognise it as being a real issue as well. That's not really saying anything much against academics, like I don't have any particular objection to vegan crusties but I think it's an issue if/when radical spaces are disproportionately dominated by them as well.

I'm assuming you're talking about academics being over-represented in magazines and other leftist/radical media? It sort of make sense to me that someone who's studied, say, the relation of industrialization and climate change, would be "over-represented" in magazines like Monthly Review as opposed to someone who hasn't. Large-scale workers' protests are also usually picked up by leftist/radical media, so it's not like they're being "ignored" for the sake of academics (here's MR re-posting an article on the recent, and "successful," strike of Kellogg workers). If there is not enough news about workers' struggles in leftist/radical media, then that's often more a reflection of a lull in open class-struggle than leftist/radical media "purposefully" ignoring blue-collar workers.

It's bizarre to me to ever think Sandie's pompous "French" (really two English blokes who believe French and "nihilism" make them look cool) lover from the '60s is somehow more accessible or closer to the working class than communist students researching and writing about relevant topics/issues in Monthly Review and elsewhere. As I said there's definitely a critique to be made of the politics of leftists and other academics, and there are certainly those who are in a position to "write about Bernie Sanders or communism as a career," but those do not represent all leftists/radicals involved in academics.

I don't think anyone's saying that academics shouldn't have radical or pro-working-class politics [...]

It's good also that academics are allowed to have working-class politics, otherwise graduate students striking for a pay raise in California because they can't afford housing, in addition to other struggles on the part of students/academics, would be even more scandalous than it unfortunately already is.

adri

4 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

With respect to teaching in the States, I think we should also distinguish between tenured positions on the one hand, and assistant (which even undergrads can do), adjunct and other non-tenured positions on the other, with the latter in particular often being more precarious and a larger source of conflict. Just because a graduate student also works temporarily as a teaching assistant doesn't at all mean they seek to teach as a career (and being a student teaching assistant is hardly a "career" itself).

R Totale

4 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I mean, what birdtiem originally said was "I periodically tend to try to find organizations and individuals online (being that I live in a small, conservative opioid-ravaged suburb) whose political beliefs are close to mine", so I guess that it's less about who gets published and more just individuals/members of organizations who are visible online? I would imagine that's probably more a matter of social media presence and the like than anything else?
Also,

It sort of make sense to me that someone who's studied, say, the relation of industrialization and climate change, would be "over-represented" in magazines like Monthly Review as opposed to someone who hasn't.

I feel like assuming that someone who's "studied, say, the relation of industrialization and climate change" must therefore have studied it in an academic setting is precisely part of the problem. I'm reminded of the Wildcat text on profession and movement:
http://www.wildcat-www.de/en/wildcat/96/e_w96_berufubewegung.html

The reverence for experts within social movements (theory experts, organisers, lawyers) is also related to ‘technical’ changes. With an increase in the polarisation of the social division of labour and intensified control of labour the gap between the intelligence of the collective worker (as an antagonistic subject) and the special knowledge (as scientists or ‘high-skilled’ professions) widens. A collective of mechanics was able to understand and anticipate the work of engineers (often engineers merely appropriated their ‘inventions’). Today we are often confronted with strikes of (migrant) workers who on their own are not able to make use of their productive power, given that machine operators and technicians are able to run production without them (because the training period of newly hired workers would be sufficiently short)...
You cannot simply proceed in a professional career and be ‘revolutionary’ in your free-time. We need our own structures as a material alternative to the ‘profession’; we need commonly organised living arrangements, collectives and (social) centres which would allow as a different way to approach ‘work’: to kick a shit-job if necessary; to work for a low-wage, because the job is politically interesting; to stir up a work-place collectively. Instead of ‘professionalisation’ and Realpolitik we have to advance the movement through a continuous international exchange.

Pros piss off!
Everyone can learn everything.

adri

4 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

R Totale

Also,
adri

It sort of make sense to me that someone who's studied, say, the relation of industrialization and climate change, would be "over-represented" in magazines like Monthly Review as opposed to someone who hasn't.

I feel like assuming that someone who's "studied, say, the relation of industrialization and climate change" must therefore have studied it in an academic setting is precisely part of the problem. I'm reminded of the Wildcat text on profession and movement:

I don't believe MR discriminates on the basis of credentials (it would be a bit unusual if any socialist mag did). I'm not assuming that only academics, and not autodidacts, can research stuff; people's ideas and what they're arguing is what's important. Credentials, or ways to denote experience/competence, are also not without purpose, and it's another question how education and the conferring of credentials (if these will even exist) would be organized in a socialist/communist society.

lurdan

4 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Spikymike

Either way it is fairly squarely relevant to many of the areas of interest and past discussions on this site and a challenge to some from both an anarchist and Marxist influenced politics. I never got further, prior to this, in a partial agreement with the author on a limited area of what was a former common communist political outlook.
See here:
https://dreamflesh.com/interview/primitive-heresies-peter-harrison/
Maybe someone else who has read the book referred to in this interview might follow up with a critical review.

Being idly curious I looked for a free copy on the internet without success. From the extract available on Amazon I see it's published by the TSI Press, the publishing house of the 'Transformative Studies Institute'. All the British and a couple of the American members of the TSI Press Editorial Board are ex-RCP/LM Network/Institute of Ideas types.

No wish to practise guilt by association however. Having said which I also presume it's not being suggested that Peter Harrison is the shithead doing the insipidities blog. If so it would perhaps be good to make that clear.

He does seem to have written a lot of articles for CounterPunch. This one is paywalled at the CounterPunch site but available at archive.org
Why Leftism – All the Way to Anarchism – is the Last Colonial Project

Does anyone know anything about the 'Transformative Studies Institute'? I see one of their leading figures John Asimakopoulos has published texts on democracy and anarchist economics (sic) some of which have turned up in the Libcom library.

Spikymike

By the way there are several past critical discussions of MD and associated authors of that project (including one on 'Species Being') on libcom, which though they might irritate some are still worthy of rereading in some cases to sharpen up your critical faculties.

Am I having a 'senior moment' or did there use to be a search engine?

adri

Credentials, or ways to denote experience/competence, are also not without purpose, and it's another question how education and the conferring of credentials (if these will even exist) would be organized in a socialist/communist society.

Perhaps we could put them in a Museum of Comedy and laugh at them.

adri

4 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Perhaps we could put them in a Museum of Comedy and laugh at them.

Well I think we can certainly have a laugh at, for example, Imperial Russia's table of ranks and the ways people obsessed over their standing/rank in society (a corrupt system which excluded the majority of people and was hardly based on merit; Gogol's satire in "The Nose" is worth checking out), but academic credentials (or some other way to show experience/competence) seem to serve some purpose. I personally wouldn't want Monsieur Dupont performing tooth surgery on me, or anyone for that matter...

Spikymike

4 months 2 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

For the record It appears that Peter Harrison (mentioned in my post #22 above) no longer holds to the views expressed along with his former co-author of MD to be discarded as still within the orbit of the ''ultra-left' and is not responsible for anything posted on the insipidities blog or any other connection with those at the TSI other than beholding to them for facilitating the publication of his book. Any other relevance to this discussion if at all would be to the side issue of the role of teachers and academics in influencing radical politics. Tracing the subsequent evolution in the politics of past active individuals from the tiny organised anarchist/communist 'ultra-left' tendencies is a pastime of little interest to most people other than those of us who new them personally.

R Totale

4 months 2 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Not an expert on anthropology myself, but I see PH/MD has been getting quite into Clastres. For a critical discussion - mainly about the uses that some idiots have made of Clastres, but also touching on Clastres' own work - see https://libcom.org/library/indiscriminate-attacks-wild-reactions-anti-civ-anarchist-engages-its-atassa-their-defend

Steven.

4 months 2 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

lurdan, you are right that libcom no longer has an internal site search as the module we used no longer works. We hope to rectify this with the upgraded version of the site. In the meantime we recommend people search the site using Google and adding "site: libcom.org" to the search

lurdan

4 months 2 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Spikymike

For the record It appears that Peter Harrison (mentioned in my post #22 above) no longer holds to the views expressed along with his former co-author of MD to be discarded as still within the orbit of the ''ultra-left' and is not responsible for anything posted on the insipidities blog or any other connection with those at the TSI other than beholding to them for facilitating the publication of his book.

Thanks. My concern was that enough fragments of information had already been posted to the thread for it to be possible for mistaken conclusions to be drawn. I hope my question didn't annoy - it was not my intention.

jef costello

4 months 2 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I thought Lazy Riser was connected to Monsieur Dupont.
The posts on that twitter sound just like him.
It was always hard to understand what he was saying because he wrote very obliquely and it was even harder to be sure if he actually meant any of it.

edit: I couldn't face reading too much of that twitter feed, but there were some posts 'defending the unvaccinated working class against government attacks'. That sounds exactly like the kind of contrarian stuff LR used to get up to.

petey

4 months 2 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

well, this is a blast from the past.
LR was the first who ever called me 'comrade' so he has a little place in my heart.

Tom Henry

3 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

For clarity - though it is easy enough to find if one reads the few threads on the 6-month-old twitter account @Nihil_Evadere – here are a couple of texts. But, to be plain, there is now an irreconcilable division between the writers of ‘Nihilist Communism,’ a book which, if you have it, I suggest you throw away.

First, links to a couple of Medium translations (there are more):

The Incomprehensible Philosophical Indulgence Towards Heidegger

For Agamben, Everyone is a Fascist Except Those who Really are Fascists.

An Absurd Gesture Becomes Its Destiny.

Di Cesare against Agamben. Denialists, Conspiracy-Theorists, and the Hyper-Credulous: The Reactionary battle Against the Vaccine Pass.

[Later note. I would also like to point out that there seems to be a fairly strong connection between the Frere Dupont milieu and the American Christian right ('The American Conservative' magazine, etc) - which includes a 'pro-life' (anti-abortion) stance, and being against gay marriage (which, to be fair to their anti- and ultra- leftism, is shared by their hero, Jacques Camatte - also a hero to many others, ofc, such as Endnotes, etc.). For me, such stances are an instant 'deal-breaker' in having 'a conversation' with such people, quite apart from any 'covidskeptic' hyperbole.
BTW, twitter accounts that reflect the FD anti-leftism are ELLange6, BCryptofash (who could actually even be FD, but writing more dynamically), AthinaRedGirl, etc. As for the Christian conservatism, one can discover the connections through their twitter accounts, although the up-front use of religious language/terminology is also probably a good initial indicator - I myself missed this obvious indicator for such a long time! I should also point out, again, that I am only recording this because I wish to completely publicly separate myself from this whole farcical phenomenon.}

Later note:

The FD/MD milieu, centred around @glowwwormsalon on Twitter, is clearly 'pro-life.'

On the 5th July 2021 @glowwormsalon posted a link to an article from The Federalist (look them up) titled: 'The Surprising Ingredient to Creating a Pro-Life Culture,' written by Tristyn Bloom, in 2013, who describes themselves as a "Chain-smoking right wing nut job, likes debauchery, Muscovy, walking in the rain and monks."

Tom Henry

4 months 1 week ago

In reply to by libcom.org

EDIT:
I have deleted the text that was here – apart from the note at the end – because I only intended it to be here temporarily, and because it is only rough draft of a piece for the future.

[NOTE FOR LIBCOM READERS. I am no longer a proponent of communist or anarchist revolution (millenarianism) and would only ‘support’ things on this site urging for ‘social justice’ that do not contain appeals to communist revolution and that, therefore, have no millenarian content. I am, therefore, no longer, ‘a revolutionary’ – and so, effectively, disown most of my previous posts on this site.]

Tom Henry

4 months 1 week ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Deleted, as it is part of a future publication.

Tom Henry

4 months 1 week ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Deleted, as it is part of a future publication.

Spikymike

4 months 2 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

So welcome back Tom Henry and thanks for some additional clarifications including his reformist turn. Whilst I don't think it is proved that the entirety of the 'ultra-left' is irreversible tied into a drift to the 'ultra-right' of politics he provides much evidence to warn of the real dangers of that against the background of reactions to the increased capitalist state surveillance and control of social and economic life in response to the global pandemic. Lots of detailed references to ongoing twitter and other discussions that have passed me by I'm afraid which suggests I should update my knowledge of Camatte's and others more recent views and their influence. I might link this contribution to some other related discussions that have highlighted the same concerns.

Tom Henry

4 months 1 week ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Deleted, as my short answer with info is irrelevant, and can be found elsewhere.

Red Marriott

4 months 2 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

So where, if anywhere, does the former libcom poster Lazy Riser fit in all this?

Tom Henry

4 months 2 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

If you’re asking me, I didn’t know there was a Libcom poster called Lazy Riser until I read it here on this thread. I have no idea or interest as to why that name, or the initials, or with letters swapped, is used by A Certain Plume, etc.

birdtiem

4 months 2 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I'm deeply skeptical of the idea, which has persisted for a long time, that problems in practice or in practical orientation to emerging political developments are always ultimately traceable to (and explainable via) earlier problems at the level of theory. I don't accept that one can simply explain any turn taken by an individual or group as a logical result of a particular theoretical conception that preceded it, as an inevitable 'next step' in an inevitable trajectory that is always logical and internally consistent, and I don't think "Martin Heidegger" is an adequate explanation for the widespread confusion that Covid has created among parts of the left and ultra-left, regardless of his influence on some individuals. Even psychological explanations - burnout, despair, impatience, etc. - seem more insightful in this instance.

In any case, responding to a rightwing turn among some self-described communists by rejecting altogether the possibility of an emancipatory break with capitalism seems like the opposite side of the exact same coin...

Still, I appreciate the contribution, Tom Henry.

birdtiem

4 months 2 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Tom Henry

So, if there was a vote on, for example, ‘gay marriage,’ one would either vote against it or not vote at all. But abstaining would amount to a vote against…

in what sense? By not voting for Joe Biden, are Democratic Party patriots correct that I effectively "voted for Donald Trump"? Meanwhile, Republican politicians were saying the same thing to their base - that not voting for Trump would amount to a vote for Biden. By not voting for either, have I voted for both?

…and so one would find oneself in the camp of the reactionaries, just as Camatte has done.

I've not read virtually any Camatte, but from your post, it sounds like Camatte is in the camp of the reactionaries because he agrees with them, not because he abstains from voting...

In the same way, the Terfs, by their similar abstinence, as Butler notes, have found themselves in the camp of those on the right and extreme right who push their anti-gender ideology.

In what sense is it "abstinence" that has allied TERFs with rightwingers, when TERFs and rightwingers do take a side eg voting on 'bathroom bills' etc, Forgive my very small brain, but these conclusions are completely baffling to me.

Tom Henry

4 months 2 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I only posted these extra things for a kind of limited extra clarification. They are, of course, ‘provocative’ (what other point is there to writing anything in such an arena?).
For you to grasp what I have written here you would have to explore the Nihil Evadere twitter account and maybe read, The Freedom of Things (and my future set of texts).
I have no wish, please forgive me if this sounds rude, to engage in an extended discussion on these things when I have already written all the ‘answers’ to your ‘questions/assertions’ elsewhere (see twitter etc).
Please don’t take this as my being rude to you. I appreciate and endorse (fwiw) your exploration of all this kind of stuff, and wish you well on your intellectual journey.
A very happy new year to you!

birdtiem

4 months 2 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Thanks, man, you too. Take it easy.

R Totale

4 months 2 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

birdtiem

I'm deeply skeptical of the idea, which has persisted for a long time, that problems in practice or in practical orientation to emerging political developments are always ultimately traceable to (and explainable via) earlier problems at the level of theory. I don't accept that one can simply explain any turn taken by an individual or group as a logical result of a particular theoretical conception that preceded it, as an inevitable 'next step' in an inevitable trajectory that is always logical and internally consistent, and I don't think "Martin Heidegger" is an adequate explanation for the widespread confusion that Covid has created among parts of the left and ultra-left, regardless of his influence on some individuals. Even psychological explanations - burnout, despair, impatience, etc. - seem more insightful in this instance.

In any case, responding to a rightwing turn among some self-described communists by rejecting altogether the possibility of an emancipatory break with capitalism seems like the opposite side of the exact same coin...

I'd tend to agree with this, especially since we're currently discussing a book whose two authors have taken extremely different trajectories, so for the "next step" idea to work then nihilist communism must logically lead to both FD's current confusionism and TH's current reformism. Although I might pretend to believe that last one, because it would be quite a funny way of winding up dedicated nihilists.

Spikymike

4 months 2 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

And just briefly to mention (in case of any confused assumptions) that we pro-revolutionaries are not as a result against all reforms or other means of resistance within capitalism even if against a reformist political strategy that assumes any continual improvement of capitalism that can resolve any of its detrimental fault lines. On a day to day basis political revolutionaries and reformists (and many who categorise themselves neither way) may be found side by side in some (though clearly not all) social struggles, even if not in the same organisations. Doesn't of course resolve all our other theoretical and strategic differences.

Tom Henry

4 months 1 week ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Birdtiem,
On reflection I think that it might be interesting to respond to one of your questions. The one on voting.

A million years ago I and others from the old ACF were in a car heading north to a conference or something,

It was during the reign of Reagan in the US. One of the founding members of the ACF was saying that things were so bad in the US that people should vote Reagan out. As I recall there wasn’t really a response to this suggestion. For myself, I was surprised that she was advocating voting, as I held to the principle that anarchists should never vote.

However, after years of suspecting she was right I now think that she was, indeed, completely in the right.

Because of the limited means that are available to us voting (in elections and referendums) is one thing we can do when it might actually matter. Of course, one should think about how one votes in order to maximise what one wants. I now vote in these kinds of things, whereas I didn’t before, but then, of course, I am no longer an anarchist/ultraleftist/millenarian.

I don’t know that much about the Biden/Trump election but if I thought a vote for Biden would have helped oust Trump then I would have voted. In such a situation a non-vote would indeed be a virtual vote for Trump.

... Just as a non-vote in a referendum on gay marriage effectively serves as a vote against it, as well being an antagonistic response to the people who just want to get married because it seems to them like a nice thing to do.

But I will stop there. I know what I think, and you all know what you think. I don’t want to be part of an argument about it. I just thought it was an interesting and useful anecdote in relation to the anarchist principle of not voting in elections or referendums in a representative democracy.

adri

4 months 1 week ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Because of the limited means that are available to us voting (in elections and referendums) is one thing we can do when it might actually matter. Of course, one should think about how one votes in order to maximise what one wants. I now vote in these kinds of things, whereas I didn’t before, but then, of course, I am no longer an anarchist/ultraleftist/millenarian.

I don’t know that much about the Biden/Trump election but if I thought a vote for Biden would have helped oust Trump then I would have voted. In such a situation a non-vote would indeed be a virtual vote for Trump.

I find the argument that it's not simply a matter of "your individual vote" fairly convincing, especially in scenarios where it's not a close race. For "lesser-evil" voting to be effective for example you'd need others to also be on-board, which in the end amounts to getting completely behind a candidate and persuading others why they're better/less evil than all the rest ("lesser evils" don't really become favorites through "supporters" who have no real enthusiasm for them). I believe Chomsky also said he wouldn't even bother voting if not in a swing-state; so if you're not actively trying to persuade others to vote for someone, and if you don't bother voting in safe states, then you're not really doing anything at all. I'm interested also in what type of actions you think people should engage in outside of voting, or is ticking some box every so often all that workers have at their disposal in terms of winning concessions/improvements or transforming society (obviously not)?

Tom Henry

4 months 1 week ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Yes, I think millenarians (revolutionaries/communists) should completely abandon their millenarianism and work within society at every level, in all scenarios, to increase or protect what they perceive as social justice. I base this on the fact that ‘leaving this world’ or creating a communist society is impossible (one will need to read the other stuff I have written elsewhere to understand how I have come to this conclusion).

Tom Henry

4 months 1 week ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Deleted, because there is no point this post bring here.

Spikymike

4 months 1 week ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Since when did the 'ultra-left' have such influence as ascribed to it by Pete Harrison..... Some of what makes up such a vague descriptive title may justifiably be criticised but really!!

Dannny

4 months 1 week ago

In reply to by libcom.org

There is something to be said about the 'anti-left' route to red-brown alliances and Claptonite 'freedom' politics, but there are at least as many examples of erstwhile reformists and Trotskyists as 'ultra' leftists ending up in such positions. Clearly, engaging with reformist projects will not inoculate lefties against such drifts.

The ultra-left’s ‘all or nothing’ messianism might make it seem pointless to be involved in the kind of activity that most of us on here consider to be worthwhile, e.g. anti-evictions / prisoner support / migrant solidarity / mutual aid etc. However, other aspects of that tradition, particularly its anti-nationalism and anti-electoralism, are potentially helpful in resisting the ever-present pressure to make such activities cohere with projects of national reform or political careerism.

birdtiem

4 months 1 week ago

In reply to by libcom.org

From the USA, this phenomenon of left to right in response to the pandemic has been most apparent among ppl who supported Bernie Sanders in 2016, ppl who ‘care’ about ‘the working class’ yet misunderstand ‘the working class’ as a backward cultural formation, ppl who always had a thoroughly reformist orientation... So as much as I can understand how, if my longtime former comrades had ended up in the paranoid orbit of Aimee Therese, this would seem like the center of the universe - it’s not.

We do live in a period where a lot of ppl are drawn to politics on the basis of ‘nice ideas’ that aren’t really steeled by practice (this applies to ppl who call themselves ‘organizers’ as much as anyone else; it’s a function of the period and not the result of ‘arm-chair [whatever]’), which probably goes someway to explaining the ability of a real event like a pandemic to scatter ppl politically. The real contradiction between the nice ideas and the not-so-nice factors that are actually the driving force in that person’s behavior are brought to the fore.

My brother is an example of this, someone who has always been deeply narcissistic, who supported Bernie Sanders and called himself an anti-capitalist but who is enterprising, stingy. and doing very well professionally. Suddenly the pandemic came and ‘socialism’ wasn’t just about him getting his student loan forgiven or getting something free, but about him being mildly inconvenienced as an act of solidarity with other ppl. And lo and behold, “do something for other ppl??? I’d rather be a fascist”

birdtiem

4 months 1 week ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I don’t mean to completely depoliticize the question, and would agree with the poster above me about there being ‘something to be said about the anti-left route to red-brown alliances’. I just think it’s possible to arrive at completely wrong conclusions by looking at this as purely a problem of the “ultra-left”

birdtiem

4 months 1 week ago

In reply to by libcom.org

[side note: I haven’t been super consistent in keeping up with this thread, despite being the person who started it. thanks, R Totale, for addressing some of the back and forth about academics earlier. There are a few things that I’ve (hopefully only temporarily) lost the, idk, ‘emotional fortitude’ to have protracted exchanges about, and the ubiquity of students and academics on the US left is one of them (especially when the person you are engaging with seems to feel personally attacked by your line of inquiry).

Another in the category of ‘too exhausted to discuss in-depth’ is participation in electoral politics. I appreciate Tom Henry responding to my earlier questions about how he would characterize my rejection of voting in the US presidential election in light of his political turn, and while I could not disagree more with his response, I don’t really feel the need or see the point of doing a long polemical exchange]

adri

4 months 1 week ago

In reply to by libcom.org

[side note: I haven’t been super consistent in keeping up with this thread, despite being the person who started it. thanks, R Totale, for addressing some of the back and forth about academics earlier. There are a few things that I’ve (hopefully only temporarily) lost the, idk, ‘emotional fortitude’ to have protracted exchanges about, and the ubiquity of students and academics on the US left is one of them (especially when the person you are engaging with seems to feel personally attacked by your line of inquiry).

I'm not sure why you wouldn't expect to be called out for claiming "virtually everyone you find [is] an academic who is 'doing radical politics' as part of a CAREER"? I'm sorry if you've had a few bad experiences with students, but not everyone involved with academics has a "career" or is "living comfortably" as compared to the rest of the working class (TAs, adjuncts, etc.). The work/research of most communist students is arguably a thousand times more interesting than anything MD has ever put out. I don't see why a book labeled "nihilist communism" would have ever appealed to you in the first place. It's hardly ever a good sign when the author writes in the first couple pages how "in places I have no idea what we were alluding to." I appreciate the snide comments though, and I hope you find better ways to fill your time than being anti-student/working-class and posting your dubious politics here.

adri

4 months 1 week ago

In reply to by libcom.org

R Totale

I don't think anyone's saying that academics shouldn't have radical or pro-working-class politics, I think what birdtiem was saying is that it's a bit worrying when this group, which makes up a tiny tiny proportion of the population at large, or of the working class, is so vastly over-represented in radical politics. Or everyone who isn't an academic is so under-represented, if you want to look at it that way. As mentioned above, I think there probably is a visibility bias here, in that academics have career incentives to maintain a visible presence that don't apply to other people, but I do recognise it as being a real issue as well. That's not really saying anything much against academics, like I don't have any particular objection to vegan crusties but I think it's an issue if/when radical spaces are disproportionately dominated by them as well.

birdtiem

It's just very bizarre to me that there is this stratum of people I basically never ever *even cross paths with* in my day-to-day life, yet when I go looking specifically for radical working class politics, those are precisely the people I find: ppl doing phds at like Columbia U while teaching and writing articles for 'radical' publications or working on 'their book'; ppl doing postdoctorate fellowships (I'll be honest, idk what that even is) in Berlin or Madrid.

I already responded to all this, but it's worth mentioning again how there's nothing "bizarre" about people in academics having working class/revolutionary politics. In addition to most students coming from the working class today, it's also historically been the case that politically-minded revolutionaries came from the upper educated strata of society (which is not to say the lower classes never resisted the conditions imposed on them). Most teachers might not work under a capitalist, and are thus unproductive (of value) workers, but they're still wage-laborers or workers nonetheless. What is "bizarre" is suggesting that striking teaching assistants who can't afford housing somehow "don't belong" to the working class, or aren't compelled to sell their ability to work like any other worker.

It's not really the fault of people involved in academics if the rest of the working class, the "beloved blue-collar workers" and so forth, aren't politically active socialists (or are "under-represented in radical politics"). I'm also not sure what academics "having their own particular brand to promote" means in practice, or how exactly that's connected to birdtiem's encounters with academics online. We can critique the works of leftist academics, but there's nothing "innately wrong" with academics wanting to "promote" their research/work, especially when this is how they also get by. I mean if you wrote a book would you not want others to read it, or for it to make an impact? (I also recall the academic Mark Bray and his antifascism book being quite popular not too long ago.) It's also worth pointing out again that one-off contributions to leftist/revolutionary magazines doesn't constitute a "career" (if this word means anything), and that most people involved in academics aren't in a position to simply "write about radical politics for a living."

R Totale

4 months 1 week ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I would like to take this opportunity to formally apologise to academics, on behalf of my fellow non-academic workers, for letting them down by failing to live up to their sterling example. Never in the field of class conflict was so much owed by so many (us lazy non-academic workers) to so few (our glorious academic leaders).

adri

4 months 1 week ago

In reply to by libcom.org

R Totale

I would like to take this opportunity to formally apologise to academics, on behalf of my fellow non-academic workers, for letting them down by failing to live up to their sterling example. Never in the field of class conflict was so much owed by so many (us lazy non-academic workers) to so few (our glorious academic leaders).

Well, you can stop crawling, just don't go around generalizing that "all academics write about communism as a career" and suggesting that people involved in academics aren't "real workers." I'm sorry also if you take offense to me saying politically-minded revolutionaries have historically come from the upper echelons, but I mean it's sort of true... (more in the 19th century and prior than from the 20th century on, especially with the internet today). Do you think Russian serfs or urban workers (it's worth bearing in mind the majority of 19th century Russians were illiterate peasants), who spent most of their lives toiling away in fields and factories had the time or means to do much else? (Bakunin himself pointed out the significance of Marx's Capital, but noted how it would go over the heads of most workers.) The workers in early American industry also said it themselves: "Who, let me ask, after thirteen hours of steady application to monotonous work, can sit down and apply her mind to deep and long continued thought?". That's not to say serfs didn't resist increases in rent/labor obligations to their lords, or that early American textile workers didn't go on strike for better conditions, but that complex political ideas were out of reach for the majority of peasants and workers. I'm also not trying to elevate 19th century upper-class radicals; I'm only pointing out that there's nothing unprecedented or "bizarre" about radicals being more common in universities than in factories (and it's not unusual to find students in both these days). Really though I'm just puzzled by your and birdtiem's generalizations and overall hostility toward people involved in academics. As I said there's a critique to be made of leftist academics, but you can do that without generalizing about the entire education sector.

R Totale

4 months 1 week ago

In reply to by libcom.org

OK, trying not to be snarky this time: this is indeed quite a difficult conversation to have when you keep getting defensive about this supposed suggestion that 'people involved in academics aren't "real workers"' and 'suggesting that striking teaching assistants who can't afford housing somehow "don't belong" to the working class, or aren't compelled to sell their ability to work like any other worker'. Which I'm pretty certain I haven't said, and I can't see where birdtiem said anything like that either. What I actually did say was:
"That's not really saying anything much against academics, like I don't have any particular objection to vegan crusties but I think it's an issue if/when radical spaces are disproportionately dominated by them as well."
And I stand by that. For that matter, I could also mention men: I can think of examples of radical spaces where men, vegan crusties, and academics are over-represented (this is thinking of different particular radical spaces, I'm not claiming that there's a specific one that fits all three, although there may very well be). If someone raises this as an issue, and suggests that some things about that particular space might be not very welcoming to people who aren't academics/vegan crusties/men, I don't think it necessarily follows that they're saying that the over-represented group is not a part of the working class; but just pointing out that most academics/vegan crusties/men are working class does not automatically mean there's no issue either.

adri

4 months 1 week ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I mean, is your last snarky post supposed to convey your respect for striking teaching assistants, or your belief that teaching is a lesser form of labor than factory workers?

Here's birdtiem being "shocked" by academics with working-class politics, and suggesting that since he doesn't cross paths with academic workers in his "real day-to-day proletarian life" that they aren't real workers like him:

birdtiem

It's just very bizarre to me that there is this stratum of people I basically never ever *even cross paths with* in my day-to-day life, yet when I go looking specifically for radical working class politics, those are precisely the people I find: ppl doing phds at like Columbia U while teaching and writing articles for 'radical' publications or working on 'their book'; ppl doing postdoctorate fellowships (I'll be honest, idk what that even is) in Berlin or Madrid.

Here's you taking no issue with the preceding post, and contrasting academic workers with "working class people who [...] don't get to write about communism for our jobs":

R Totale

I mean, I definitely get what you're saying, but I suppose there is also the thing that academics and similar types have their personal brand to promote, so it makes sense for them to make themselves visible, whereas for just working class people who are communists but don't get to write about communism for our jobs, [...]

All of this definitely conveys a respect for academic workers and a knowledge of the education sector. Honestly, I think it would help to dispel your and birdtiem's misconceptions about academic workers living in luxury (when tenured positions are far less common than more precarious types of occupations) and writing for Jacobin as some "career" if you both tried doing the most basic research on the education sector. I think you also secretly want to be a crustie.

R Totale

4 months 1 week ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I'm not sure how to phrase this without sounding like some keyboard warrior, cv-waver or personal brand builder, but honestly I think my respect for striking teaching assistants and other academic workers is probably best conveyed by the amount of time I've spent talking to them on their picket lines. Even just in terms of "stuff I've contributed to libcom", I think my opinions about disputes in the HE sector are probably better expressed by stuff like the UCU strike thread, discussion around the University Worker bulletin, IWW statement in support of the latest UCU strikes, or the strike handbook for UCU activists, rather than some comments in a daft argument on the "Monsieur Dupont, where are they now?" thread.

It would be very nice and simple if all divisions in society could be reduced to "part of the working class/not part of the working class", but unfortunately things are rarely quite that easy, and so us agreeing till we're blue in the face that yes, academic workers are deffo proper fucking working class, will not in itself resolve the issue that birdtiem mentioned, of them being a social grouping that they rarely encounter in day-to-day life, and the more troubling part, that the sections of the wc that birdtiem does tend to spend time around are hard to find in radical circles. As far as I can tell, your response to that just seems to be "yes, that is normal and fine?"

Also, just to come back to this:

I'm also not sure what academics "having their own particular brand to promote" means in practice, or how exactly that's connected to birdtiem's encounters with academics online. We can critique the works of leftist academics, but there's nothing "innately wrong" with academics wanting to "promote" their research/work, especially when this is how they also get by. I mean if you wrote a book would you not want others to read it, or for it to make an impact?

It does seem a bit troubling if you genuinely can't imagine an approach to producing and distributing/promoting texts that isn't identical to the academic model of an individual with a personal brand to promote. I mean, to take a few different examples (none of which I'd uncritically endorse as texts, and only one of which I've actually read all the way through), Summer With A Thousand Julys, Coming Insurrection, Nihilist Communism and Desert are all texts that have made a reasonable impact in one way or another, at least within the communist milieu, and I don't think any of them have been particularly dependent on the authors having a high profile as individuals, and certainly not in the sense of an academic brand? We could probably add the Class Power book to that list, and various others - Give Up Activism, Work Community Politics War, etc.

adri

4 months 1 week ago

In reply to by libcom.org

R Totale

Even just in terms of "stuff I've contributed to libcom", I think my opinions about disputes in the HE sector are probably better expressed by stuff like the UCU strike thread, discussion around the University Worker bulletin, IWW statement in support of the latest UCU strikes, or the strike handbook for UCU activists, rather than some comments in a daft argument on the "Monsieur Dupont, where are they now?" thread.

That’s all nice, but none of that has anything to do with your comments in this thread, which are what we’re dealing with.

R Totale

It would be very nice and simple if all divisions in society could be reduced to "part of the working class/not part of the working class", but unfortunately things are rarely quite that easy, and so us agreeing till we're blue in the face that yes, academic workers are deffo proper fucking working class, will not in itself resolve the issue that birdtiem mentioned, of them being a social grouping that they rarely encounter in day-to-day life, […]

What do you mean by “rarely encounter in day-to-day life”?

The reason birdtiem sees academics so much when looking for people with radical politics might have something to do with the reasons I mentioned (the humanities are also kind of synonymous with radical politics, for communists at least). The reason why birdtiem doesn’t see academic workers in his “day-to-day real proletarian life” is because… well, they’re a different type of worker. That doesn’t mean academic workers are not working class though—and that’s my point.

R Totale

[…] and the more troubling part, that the sections of the wc that birdtiem does tend to spend time around are hard to find in radical circles. As far as I can tell, your response to that just seems to be "yes, that is normal and fine?"

I never said nor implied that it’s “normal and fine” that there aren’t enough socialists among blue-collar and other non-academic workers; that’s really a more general problem of a lack of socialist consciousness among the working class.

R Totale

It does seem a bit troubling if you genuinely can't imagine an approach to producing and distributing/promoting texts that isn't identical to the academic model of an individual with a personal brand to promote. I mean, to take a few different examples (none of which I'd uncritically endorse as texts, and only one of which I've actually read all the way through), [...]

who could blame you

R Totale

[…] Summer With A Thousand Julys, Coming Insurrection, Nihilist Communism and Desert are all texts that have made a reasonable impact in one way or another, at least within the communist milieu, and I don't think any of them have been particularly dependent on the authors having a high profile as individuals, and certainly not in the sense of an academic brand? We could probably add the Class Power book to that list, and various others - Give Up Activism, Work Community Politics War, etc.

I think you’re being a bit cynical by assuming anything anyone does under capitalism is about promoting themselves. You can’t really do anything under capitalism without it being mixed up with money, but that doesn’t mean, for example, that anarchist/communist groups selling books are only interested in making a profit. I personally also wouldn’t mind if someone wanted to be well-known or respected; it’s their ideas that matter. There are certainly academics (those in the humanities) who are only interested in creating a brand around themselves, but it's really not the case that all academics writing in magazines, journals, books and so on are only concerned with promoting themselves. In fact I would argue most academics aren’t trying to create a brand around themselves and are far more driven by whatever they specialize in (you'd probably find a dozen or so unrecognizable names if you tried searching for some historical period in any journal database, etc.).

Red Marriott

4 months 1 week ago

In reply to by libcom.org

R Totale

It does seem a bit troubling if you genuinely can't imagine an approach to producing and distributing/promoting texts that isn't identical to the academic model of an individual with a personal brand to promote. I mean, to take a few different examples (none of which I'd uncritically endorse as texts, and only one of which I've actually read all the way through), Summer With A Thousand Julys, Coming Insurrection, Nihilist Communism and Desert are all texts that have made a reasonable impact in one way or another, at least within the communist milieu, and I don't think any of them have been particularly dependent on the authors having a high profile as individuals, and certainly not in the sense of an academic brand? We could probably add the Class Power book to that list, and various others - Give Up Activism, Work Community Politics War, etc.

You could add to that the pressure on career academics to get published as a necessary element of career advancement;
Journal of Research in Medical Sciences-2014

Frequent publication is one of the few powerful methods at scholar's disposal to demonstrate academic talent to peers. Successful publication of research brings attention to scholars and their institutions. This in turn may bring in more funding for the institute and also ensure an individual's progress through their field. Academic institutions and university frequently use the number of publication to an individual's credit as the measure of competency. Administrators are increasingly using this as the criteria during recruitments. Scholars, who publish infrequently or who focus on activities that does not result in publications like instructing undergraduates, may find themselves out of contentions for many teaching positions. It is due to these reasons that there is an immense pressure to publish. The phrase “Publish or perish” initially coined by Coolidge[1] in 1932 is now becoming a harsh reality.
... Most of the published research works are done just to improve the curriculum vitae (CV) of the researcher and they do not find any merit in practical terms. A thought must be spared by the researchers for the quality of research being carried out. “Publish or perish” is now becoming the way of life.
... Administrators and universities increasingly look at the publications to one's credit during recruitment of faculty/researchers. This has led to a relentless pressure to publish at all costs in order to increase the number of publications on one's CV. This not only led to an increase of low quality publications but also led to increase in unethical practices and publication fraud is also showing an increasing trend. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3999612/

Obviously the motives for self-published pamphlets or blogs is generally very different than for articles generated within individual(ist) academic career frameworks. You can't just ignore the historical divide between mental and physical labour in class society and the hierarchies it has, and remains to varying degrees, been part of. The competitive 'publish or perish' pressure is an example of the productivist capitalist imperative invading academia's ivory towers but it still reinforces the intellectual status and specialism of the academic role. There is obviously a hierarchy within academia that reflects the power relations of the wider society, even if less discussed.
It might also be noted that in recent examples where there's been an overlap between academic and radical currents - such as Aufheben and Black Flame - the results can be pretty disgusting.

adri

4 months 1 week ago

In reply to by libcom.org

RM

You can't just ignore the historical divide between mental and physical labour in class society and the hierarchies it has, and remains to varying degrees, been part of.

I guess I'm the second-person here? Just to point out, I wrote at least two paragraphs explaining how education has historically been the realm of the upper classes (which is slightly different today than it was then), owing in part to the lower classes being legally prohibited from attending universities at points, and to them being far more concerned with surviving, with no time or resources for intellectual pursuits (whether inside or outside universities). I also never endorsed capitalist education (along with its multitude of problems stemming from capitalism, such as racking students up with debt and "publishing or perishing"). I've only ever pointed out that academic workers (including temporary TAs, who might not even go into teaching in the long-term) are part of the working class—an idea some people in this thread struggle with—and that tenure and tenure-track positions are not representative of the "average academic worker" (around 70% of positions are off tenure-track, which essentially means most positions are insecure and low-paid). Anyway, it's sort of funny to me that some people here think TAs (i.e. academic workers) are somehow living more comfortably than your run-of-the-mill factory worker (like seriously a maintenance worker makes more than a TA!).

Red Marriott

4 months 1 week ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I think that many people will have experienced the effect the introduction of an academic approach can have in group situations - eg, how discussion/writing becomes structured by boring academic norms, those well-versed in those norms assume an informal hierarchy to determine agenda and terminology, patronising attitudes from intellectuals (not only academics) etc. The importation of such cultural attitudes can be stifling and alienating as much as other domineering attitudes like overbearing male personalities and cliques. I doubt such marxoid/anarchoid academic bores are TAs (or at least not for long) but they exist. Academic cultural attitudes also often have the effect of keeping group function at the level of pure ideas which stifle or deliberately avoid theory from finding its practice. Those whose specialty and currency are ideas and their production are in their comfort zone and, consciously or not, often reproduce such cultural structures around themselves. I've seen this various times in meetings and groups and I'm sure I'm not the only one. I think this is related to birdtiem’s concerns.

Maybe we can see academia’s relation to theory as similar to NGOs’ and unions’ relation to organising; just as it can be destructive and annoying in struggles and groups when ‘experts’ appear and start assuming roles to exercise their ‘expertise’ in organising everyone so it can be a PITA when academics and intellectuals do the same in the realm of ideas. Not, of course, that they all do and some do produce some useful stuff.

I have no experience of academia from the inside but it seems increasingly similar to the entertainment business; a few well-rewarded superstars - eg, Zizek, Chomsky, Petersen - with a base pyramid of menial functionaries, a section of who failed in grand ambitions to 'make it'. (With universities now like record labels/Hollywood studios?) Much like in the music biz ex-young wannabe starlets end up working in guitar shops, working bar at venues, technicians, teaching etc. (Not that even most musicians or TAs necessarily have such ambitions).

Fozzie

4 months 1 week ago

In reply to by libcom.org

When reading Dog Section Press’ generally decent “Abolishing The Police” book, I was struck by the fact that virtually all of the contributors were academics of some sort. Maybe that doesn’t matter terribly but it does create a certain impression of that milieu. It would be equally weird if all the contributors worked in food retail.

R Totale

4 months 1 week ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Yeah, I think there's a tendency to mix up what seems to be to be fairly straightforward, value-neutral observations with moral judgements - I wasn't trying to say anything particularly judgemental with that thing about the urge towards visibility, I was just commenting that if you take, say, Peter Cole who's found a niche as a labo(u)r historian (or indeed Mark Bray or Koshka Duff or whoever else), then the more that employers in his sector know about him as someone who's super into the IWW then the more likely he is to be able to find work in his chosen field in future, whereas that is, to put it mildly, not the case for most of us. So that probably has an effect on who chooses to do/write about radical stuff under their real name, and who chooses to be anonymous internet user R Totale or birdtiem or Red Marriott or whoever.
Similarly, I can understand it must be tempting/pleasing when you get to have a career out of writing communist stuff and your individual career self-interest seems to coincide with what's good for the class struggle in terms of spreading useful ideas or whatever, just as a lot of the time being a paid organiser probably means you do get to do good and useful stuff. But the more you get used to thinking of those two things as coinciding or compatible, the more you can set yourself up to end up in really messy territory when they suddenly don't.

Tom Henry

4 months 1 week ago

In reply to by libcom.org

All anthropology is actually ethnology (the comparative study of cultures), in that it is a comparison made between our society and other societies, or sub-sections of ‘our’ society – so, while the ethnology/anthropology is supposed to tell us about the society being studied, in fact, it only gives us hints about our own society. This is why so many anthropologists (beginning with Montaigne) have been able to use their studies to indicate truths about our society (modern civilization/capitalism), but no more. That is, one cannot use such studies of other societies to ‘cure’ the problems of modern life, we can only use such studies to gain some understanding of our own modern life. (All ‘cures’ lead to tyranny and murder.)

A good way to approach the question of ‘education’ and the institutions of education, then, is through a consideration of the absence of pedagogy in non-State societies (ie., ‘uncontacted tribes,’ and societies that existed before the State or colonization) and the residue of resistance to pedagogy that still exists within Indigenous communities across the world.

This, from The Freedom of Things:

“Schools represent and reproduce a way of living, and so do universities. […] The university is not an innocent satellite to Western hegemony. Rather, it is a central process. The university sucks in radicality and spits out better ways to manage situations for the benefit of progress. It is never a repository of innocent or objective knowledge. On the contrary, it is an action on the world, a one-way dialogue that disingenuously presents itself as epistemic and objective in the same way that all the aspects of Western existence constitute a way of life. In Indigenous tradition, there is no university and there is no school because such institutions are the markers and the standard bearers of a different way of living.” [Emphases added]

Tom Henry

4 months 1 week ago

In reply to by libcom.org

PS I have added a short note to post #35.

Red Marriott

4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

TH

“Schools represent and reproduce a way of living, and so do universities. […] The university is not an innocent satellite to Western hegemony. Rather, it is a central process. The university sucks in radicality and spits out better ways to manage situations for the benefit of progress. It is never a repository of innocent or objective knowledge. On the contrary, it is an action on the world, a one-way dialogue that disingenuously presents itself as epistemic and objective in the same way that all the aspects of Western existence constitute a way of life. In Indigenous tradition, there is no university and there is no school because such institutions are the markers and the standard bearers of a different way of living.”

Same can be said for the unions, the left and democratic processes that you now advocate as the only viable tools for social change.

Tom Henry

4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Yes, indeed! What I am saying is that we can understand how they work and how we are deeply part of them (we are them, in fact), but we cannot dissolve them or transcend them, and so, with this knowledge we must work out how best to work within them. We cannot escape this way of living, and so we must try to make it as 'palatable' as possible, which requires being involved at all levels to protect and enhance 'social justice.'

Whatever we do - whether it be stage 'a dictatorship of the proletariat,' become 'destituent partisans,' or work, reformingly, for social justice - we help capitalism develop. We can do nothing else, since capital is our society, it is us, we are its subject and its motor.

(Of course, I don't expect anyone here to agree with any, or much, let alone all, of this.)

ajjohnstone

4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Apologies for this unskilled manual worker, a non-academic other than the school of hard knocks and the university of life for butting in with this observation on the latest couple of posts but isn't this what Marx intended it to mean when he said:

“The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it. The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas.”

― Karl Marx, Theses on Feuerbach

adri

4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

This discussion of the effects of academics in political groups sort of reminded me of Barbara and John Ehrenreich’s concerns of the same (and which prompted them to come up with the “professional managerial class”/PMC in an edition of Radical America). Barbara for example talks in an interview about an experience with an academic inside a chapter of the New American Movement,

Barbara

We wrote that essay [in Radical America] in a rather tedious way to try to not offend the Marxists—and we would’ve included ourselves in that category. But it was very much growing out of what we were experiencing politically on the left. John Ehrenreich and I had a New American Movement (NAM) chapter that often met in our house, and it was interesting in that it had such a mix of people by class—not, unfortunately, by race, but by class. There was a clump of people who were warehouse workers, who were involved in an organizing drive, and then, at the other extreme, there was a full professor and his wife. So it was fascinating and also terrifying to watch the interactions

I think I in particular was very sensitive to these things because of my own background. My father had originally been a copper miner, and the other men in the family were railroad workers and other miners. But I had gone to college and gotten a PhD, so I was also a card-carrying member of the PMC. I could see the tensions rising. The professor and his wife, who became very dominant in the group, had a lot of contempt for the more working-class people. It was cringeworthy. To me it was important that people get along. We wanted a movement that would include the college teachers and the warehouse workers.

It didn’t work out. The professor and his wife walked out. First, they denounced me personally—they brought a copy of Mao’s Little Red Book, which they read aloud from, only whenever Mao was denouncing liberals, they would say “Barbara.” It was just bizarre, and it was painful at the same time. This climactic meeting took place in the home of two of our working-class members: he was a locksmith, and she was a nurse’s aide. They had treats set out for people to nibble on, cookies and cakes, because that’s what you do when you have people to your house—and the professor and his wife just ignored it. And that’s not how you act when you’re in somebody’s house. It was awful.

I don’t guess many people in this thread would agree with the Ehrenheichs’ conclusions of academics and professional workers constituting some “separate class,” i.e. the PMC (which would be an issue), but it still seemed interesting and worth pointing out nonetheless. I’ve never been part of any group (‘cause there are no groups where I’m from!) so I can’t really speak much to academics/students being harmful inside socialist groups/organizations. However I wouldn’t think a few instances of academic-types being domineering inside groups/organizations meant that all academics are like that or that academics should be excluded from joining any group (or indeed that they’re not part of the working class but the “PMC”). As an aside there’s also a slew of other issues in the Ehrenreichs’ interpretation of Marx and especially their understanding of reproduction (claiming that workers don’t reproduce capitalist social relations, unlike the PMC etc.).

sherbu-kteer

4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I don't really want to prolong what is already a pretty tedious argument even further, but

that complex political ideas were out of reach for the majority of peasants and workers.

is a bit silly, since socialist history is littered with examples of these groups not only grasping complex ideas but putting them into practice. It would be trivial to pick out examples. Part of working class organisation is overcoming the mental/manual division of labour – like there's the CNT union halls with libraries of books on philosophy and stuff, but even libcom itself might be an example in its own way. Ordinary working class people doing research + writing collectively, away from the auspices of specialists and professionals.

To be honest I think the overrepresentation of academics or aspiring academics in radical spaces is more just to do with the way schools siphon off anyone capable of getting decent enough marks on exams and get them to go to uni. At mine, if you didn't get good marks you were sent off to do a trade. More people than ever are going to uni – in Aus in 1990 I think 10% of people had Bachelors degrees, now in 2020 it's 30%. This naturally flows down. Lefties tend to have existing interests in philosophy, history, etc by virtue of being lefties so it's no surprise lots of them pursue those subjects.

adri

4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

sherbu-kteer

I don't really want to prolong what is already a pretty tedious argument even further, but

adri

that complex political ideas were out of reach for the majority of peasants and workers.

is a bit silly, since socialist history is littered with examples of these groups not only grasping complex ideas but putting them into practice. It would be trivial to pick out examples. Part of working class organisation is overcoming the mental/manual division of labour – like there's the CNT union halls with libraries of books on philosophy and stuff, but even libcom itself might be an example in its own way. Ordinary working class people doing research + writing collectively, away from the auspices of specialists and professionals.

What's tedious is responding to people who don't bother engaging with anything I actually wrote, as well as the literal evidence I gave of workers saying that their lives were dominated by work/surviving and which limited their ability to engage in intellectual pursuits. That works like Marx's Capital were out of reach for the majority of peasants/workers in 19th century Russia (or indeed anywhere in the 19th century)—where most of the population were illiterate—is not really controversial. Bakunin on Marx's Capital for instance: "The only defect of this work [...] is that it has been written, in part, but only in part, in a style excessively metaphysical and abstract... which makes it difficult to explain and nearly unapproachable for the majority of workers, and it is principally the workers who must read it nevertheless." The "going to the peasants movement" was literally an attempt by educated upper-class radicals/narodniks to bring revolutionary ideas to the peasantry (the narodnik movement would also later morph into the Socialist Revolutionary Party in the 20th century and find popular support among the peasantry). Enlightenment (which kind of spread from Western Europe to Russia) and later revolutionary thought in Russia did not originate from, nor was it initially popular with, the lower classes (which is not to say peasants didn't resist or revolt like in the Pugachev Rebellion etc. etc.). I also noted that political ideas being out of reach to the lower classes has been less the case from the 20th century onward, and especially today with the internet. However I think there's still an argument to be made that workers' lives being consumed by work/surviving limits their ability to engage with serious political thought or other intellectual pursuits (besides engaging with the left-right factions of capital in America's two-party system, Trump etc.—which requires no thinking at all).

adri

4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

adri

I'm sorry also if you take offense to me saying politically-minded revolutionaries have historically come from the upper echelons, but I mean it's sort of true... (more in the 19th century and prior than from the 20th century on, especially with the internet today).

sherbu-kteer

Part of working class organisation is overcoming the mental/manual division of labour – like there's the CNT union halls with libraries of books on philosophy and stuff, but even libcom itself might be an example in its own way.

The 19th century means the 1800s, in case some people here didn't know (I mean that respectfully). Libcom is also part of the internet.

Tom Henry

4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

adri wrote:
"I'm sorry also if you take offense to me saying politically-minded revolutionaries have historically come from the upper echelons, but I mean it's sort of true... (more in the 19th century and prior than from the 20th century on, especially with the internet today)."

I would say that, with few exceptions (eg Makhno, Durruti), the leadership in revolutionary thinking and situations has come from 'the middle-class' for at least 500 years (indeed from the emergence of the State itself). Take Bakunin, Marx, Malatesta, Luxemburg, Landauer, Pannekoek, Castoriadis, Debord, Dauve, Badiou, Coupat, etc etc etc... - as to the history of this phenomenon:

"Most narratives concerning the emergence of the State begin with the rise of a chief who bullies people, which leads to a Royal Family, which leads to a retinue that eventually forms a bureaucracy. It is this bureaucracy that then wields the real power. The bureaucracy spreads out over the land and becomes a kind of closed proto-democracy. Eventually there are so many people helping to run the State directly through supervisory — the nascent ‘middle class’ — and entrepreneurial means that it becomes clear to them that the real power is in their hands and that they should have that power recognised. They begin a movement based on the new circumstances. Oliver Cromwell was landed gentry. Gerrard Winstanley — the leader of the Diggers, the far left of the revolutionists of the ‘English Civil War’ — was a middle-class businessman. Robespierre was a lawyer. Lenin was famously middle-class. Castro was born into a prosperous farming family and studied law at university. Guevara was a doctor. The workers and peasants get behind them because they also like this new ‘democratic’ idea and because they need some improvement in their lives. There is a revolution (we are not talking about ‘revolts’ here [which are indeed often begun by the lower classes]), sometimes it is bloody. The new leaders realise that the workers and peasants had a slightly different idea about how things should proceed and begin a clampdown. Often the first leaders of the revolution are kicked out, and new people, with a more traditional agenda step in."

I had not heard of the Ehrenreich's - I had heard of the PMC, thru the anti-left Marxist Elena Lange - thanks for posting that story, so hilarious! However, I think that the Professor couple they describe did not behave the way they did because they were professional academics, rather it would be because they are cultists. You can get cultists in any economic/social strata/situation, of course. But, as a true revolutionary would say in any domestic scene as described by Ehrenreich above: "Fck your bourgeois nibbles!"

(For why proper revolutionaries hate nice curtains and family life see 'The House of Government' by Yuri Slezkine. For a true communist, or any cultist, the family is universal love denied.)

Tom Henry

4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

ajjohnstone wrote:

Apologies for this unskilled manual worker, a non-academic other than the school of hard knocks and the university of life for butting in with this observation on the latest couple of posts but isn't this what Marx intended it to mean when he said:

Quote:
“The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it. The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas.”
― Karl Marx, Theses on Feuerbach

Your response here indicates that our society is at least two societies - but this is anthropologically and sociologically impossible. Marx, of course, begins this confusion by stating that all civilized societies are based on class struggle, indicating that there are two societies existing in society. The truth is that capitalism (the 'highest' or latest form of civilized social organization) is a society founded upon competition, hierarchy and exploitation - class struggle is built in. What capitalism (to personify it) encourages is a regular turning over of the leaders of society, or its wealthiest, in order to refine exploitation and generate even more wealth (this is what relative surplus value is). But this process is the nature of our society, we are all part of it. The ideas of the ruling class are indeed our ideas, just as the ideas of the working class are the ideas of the ruling class, and they constantly turn around, mainly via the intervention of academics and entrepreneurs. We are a society, the revolt and constant change is built in.

But, if we ignore the above problem, and investigate Marx - how can the working class shed the ideas of the ruling class?

Marx writes:

“The veil [mystification] is not removed from the countenance of the social life-process, i.e., the process of material production, until it becomes production by freely associated men, and stands under their conscious and planned control.”
(Capital Vol. 1, towards the end of Section 4, Chapter 1. Emphasis added)

They can only shed the ideas of the ruling class (and all other mystifications) after they have seized control of the means of production. So, some party of experts or other is going to have to gift them that situation, since they can't get to it themselves, because until they are in control they cannot shed their mistaken and irrational ideas.

So, yes, communist revolutionaries need the workers to vote in a government (eg the SPGB), who will provide them with the control of the means of production, or they need to support a 'dictatorship of the proletariat' run by party leaders who will also then eventually let them take control. But in both instances, as Marx implies, the workers will be doing this 'unknowingly,' they cannot understand the full import of the communist government or the dictatorship of the proletariat until they are given control of the means of production.

(As the Bolsheviks discovered, this took a serious amount of education, and in fact could never be completed, unless one believes that they could have done it in a few hundred years.)

And then there's the problem of how the communist revolutionaries themselves (have they come from another planet?) can know all this before the workers have taken control of the means of production. This is why in the final analysis, Marx had no answer to the question of 'how it might be done' and so while he condemned all morality as ideology, he simultaneously appealed to morality in the effort to persuade people that a communist revolution was a good idea.

sherbu-kteer

4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Responding to Adri – Russia was an extreme case because of its underdevelopment and political backwardness (books were often out of reach or prohibitively censored for even the better-off parts of the middle classes), but even then you see working-class people and peasants being to able to comprehend complicated political ideas, even before the revolution. A culture of study circles often emerging concurrently with nascent worker organisations resulted in the development of sophisticated working class leaders like Shlyapnikov, peasant ones like Makhno, etc.

I don't think anyone is doubting that overwork leads to workers not having free time to read and study, they just don't really agree that socialist groups or publications being dominated by academics is something like the natural order of things, or that it's not much to be concerned about. As someone else said, it would be equally weird if communist organisations were dominated by another profession. At the very least we should expect people to be self-critical of their own careers and the way they influence their political expressions; that goes for lefty academics as much as it does lefty carpenters or obstetricians or whatever.

adri

4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

sherbu-kteer

Russia was an extreme case because of its underdevelopment and political backwardness (books were often out of reach or prohibitively censored for even the better-off parts of the middle classes), [...]

I’m really not saying anything controversial about revolutionary thought originating from, and initially remaining in the hands of, the upper/middle classes (and Russia was not an “exception” in this regard), so I don’t understand why you’re arguing with me on this. The literal “father of Russian socialism” was Alexander Herzen who came from the serf-owning or gentry class. Illiterate peasants living in mirs/peasant communes—who were the majority of the population and only gained their “freedom” from serfdom in the 1860s (around the same time America abolished slavery)—were not reading Marx or Herzen. Peasants were far more absorbed by lubki (cheap popular prints with pictures) and Russian folklore. Hence why upper/middle class student-narodniks tried bringing revolutionary ideas to them via the “Going to the People/Peasants Movement,” which was a complete failure leading in some instances to peasants turning them over to tsarist authorities. Of course there are exceptions (and again, this doesn’t mean peasants or workers never resisted or revolted), but they don't invalidate my original point of revolutionaries being far more common among the upper echelons of society in the 19th century and prior.

Similarly enlightenment thought was also out of reach for the lower classes, and was far more popular with the upper strata and the tsarina herself. Catherine II, the so-called "enlightened despot," corresponded with enlightenment figures like Voltaire and Diderot, while also being condemned by them for some of her "enlightened writings" and her crushing of peasant uprisings like the Pugachev Rebellion. The Decembrist Revolt of 1825 was likewise comprised of noble-liberals who wanted to abolish serfdom and establish a constitutional government.

R Totale

4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Not saying anything controversial within the specific confines of orthodox Kautskyism, perhaps.

R Totale

4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The important thing is to see that the Russian workers did not know that they were going to form Soviets. Only a very small minority amongst them knew about the experience of the Paris commune and yet they created an embryonic worker's state, though no-one had educated them. The Kautskyist-Leninist thesis in fact denies the working class all power of original creation when not guided by the party, (as the fusion of the working class movement and socialism). Now you can see that in 1905, to take up a phrase from Theses on Feuerbach, "the educator himself needs educating".

adri

4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

edit, I removed the other comments since they were a bit out of line

R Totale

Not saying anything controversial within the specific confines of orthodox Kautskyism, perhaps.

I don't see what Kautsky has to do with anything, and Russian history goes back further than the 1917 revolutions.

R Totale

4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The theoretical conclusions of the Communists in no way express, in general terms, actual relations springing from an existing class struggle, from a historical movement going on under our very eyes.

They are merely based on ideas or principles that have been invented, or discovered, by this or that would-be universal reformer.

adri

4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

R Totale

The theoretical conclusions of the Communists in no way express, in general terms, actual relations springing from an existing class struggle, from a historical movement going on under our very eyes.

They are merely based on ideas or principles that have been invented, or discovered, by this or that would-be universal reformer.

I’m not sure if you’re quoting from someone (in which case an attribution would be in order) or what this is referring to, but this is not really citing historical evidence to back up you claims that 19th century Russian peasants and workers were politically informed—an argument I’m surprised we’re even debating now (or not really debating, because you keep talking about the 20th century, which I was never talking about). Instead of speaking abstractly could you please cite concrete historical evidence to refute my argument that "19th century radicals were more common among the upper/middle classes"?

R Totale

The important thing is to see that the Russian workers did not know that they were going to form Soviets. Only a very small minority amongst them knew about the experience of the Paris commune and yet they created an embryonic worker's state, though no-one had educated them. The Kautskyist-Leninist thesis in fact denies the working class all power of original creation when not guided by the party, (as the fusion of the working class movement and socialism). Now you can see that in 1905, to take up a phrase from Theses on Feuerbach, "the educator himself needs educating".

Again, the "19th century and prior" means the 1800s and prior (i.e. no Makhno, CNT, 1905/17 revolutions or soviets, etc.). Russian history didn’t just begin at the turn of the 20th century.

Since you and sherbu-kteer are so keen to talk about the 20th century/revolutionary era though, I would also disagree that the 1905 revolution was caused (or characterized) by some “socialist consciousness” among workers and peasants, rather than by the abysmal conditions of a developing working class. The new proletariat had grown in part from peasants leaving rural areas to work in factories, and particularly peasants who were unable to afford redemption payments for lands they received from the government after the 1861 emancipation. (It’s also worth keeping in mind that the peasantry were still the largest segment of the population at the time, rather than the urban proletariat.) The 1905 revolution falls more into the category of “workers and peasants rebelling against their immediate conditions,” rather than them being inspired by any particular kind of socialist thought (which is not to say a good deal weren’t politically informed by the ideas of the Socialist Revolutionary Party and the Social Democratic Labor Party, which were rapidly gaining in popularity). It was specifically sparked by the events of Bloody Sunday, where workers marching to the Winter Palace to petition the tsar (who wasn't even there) were massacred, in addition to other causes like the costly and imperialist Russo-Japanese War which Russia had lost. The demands of the workers in the petition sort of reflect the reformist-nature of the revolution, in that they mainly focused on improving workers’ and peasants’ conditions and rights, such as calls for a representative political system (itself a fairly "radical," albeit bourgeois, demand) and the legalization of unions and strikes. Thus the 1905 revolution really doesn’t support your argument that workers were somehow “self-educated socialists” at the time, or that they were acting independently of the influence of any party—which they most certainly were not; they were for the most part reacting against their immediate conditions and fighting/striking for improvements. The revolution and strike wave were “successful” in that regard, in that they led to the reforms of the October Manifesto, such as the creation of the farcical State Duma, which would come to be dominated by bourgeois and reactionary elements (with the Socialist Revolutionaries and Social Democrats mostly boycotting the First Duma).

Red Marriott

4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

What seems missing from TH’s (& Adri’s?) views on radical theory is that it exists in relation to practice and reflects it – anything else is, er, academic. You could almost think from some comments that theory was the cause of class struggle. Yet it’s rather the other way round, class struggle = product of class society and theory seeks to clarify that relation. Whether workers & peasants wrote about their struggles or not – or had some external source to do it - the struggles occurred regardless.

Ironically for those who define themselves so absolutely with their critique of the left, TH/Dupont always discuss ideas and the failings of radicals but rarely, if ever, the concrete aspects of class struggle. This is a typical leftist view; the working class as a passive object that has good or bad things done to it by ‘the left’ and their theorists. The fetish of ideas/theory suggests that ideas create the world and determine the proletariat and it’s actions – philosophic idealism in (in)action. And now this leads TH to want to come in from the theoretical wilderness and join its mainstream in those reformist institutions that have ideological dominance and a corresponding practice. After lecturing us for donkey’s years how the old ways are so hopeless he chooses the most hopeless way of all.

It’s understandable at present to see revolution as a diminishing prospect but TH’s theoretical calculations that led him to that conclusion and to different choices – ‘the theory failed us/led us astray’ - are unconvincing and remain trapped in the realm of idealism, divorced from reality by virtue of assuming ideas to be independent of experience – ie, struggle and its process. He may respond that his recent reformist shift in thinking is a result of his lived social experience; if so, his theory is, for once at least, being informed by his practice in the world.

Khawaga

4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

And now this leads TH to want to come in from the theoretical wilderness and join its mainstream in those reformist institutions that have ideological dominance and a corresponding practice. After lecturing us for donkey’s years how the old ways are so hopeless he chooses the most hopeless way of all.

It’s understandable at present to see revolution as a diminishing prospect but TH’s theoretical calculations that led him to that conclusion and to different choices – ‘the theory failed us/led us astray’ - are unconvincing and remain trapped in the realm of idealism, divorced from reality by virtue of assuming ideas to be independent of experience – ie, struggle and its process. He may respond that his recent reformist shift in thinking is a result of his lived social experience; if so, his theory is, for once at least, being informed by his practice in the world.

Mic drop

adri

4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

RM

What seems missing from TH’s (& Adri’s?) views on radical theory is that it exists in relation to practice and reflects it – anything else is, er, academic. You could almost think from some comments that theory was the cause of class struggle. Yet it’s rather the other way round, class struggle = product of class society and theory seeks to clarify that relation. Whether workers & peasants wrote about their struggles or not – or had some external source to do it - the struggles occurred regardless.

I’m not sure which comments of mine you’re referring to? I don’t maintain that “theory is the cause of class struggle.” The antagonisms in the social relations of a society (e.g. serfs vs lords) are the source of class struggle (serfs for example came into conflict with lords/the lord's administration on mirs all the time, especially over increases in rent/labor obligations), but that doesn’t mean that theory is irrelevant to stimulating class struggle or societal transformation. I guess that’s what you mean by “theory seeks to clarify that relation”? in which case there is no disagreement.

Tom Henry

4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

R Totale wrote:

The Kautskyist-Leninist thesis in fact denies the working class all power of original creation when not guided by the party, (as the fusion of the working class movement and socialism).

I think it is the case that many of us have not read Lenin carefully enough over the years – this certainly has been true for me – but perhaps we should.

Lenin's text below contradicts R Totale's assessment above, and is useful in investigating the similarities between current communist rhetoric/strategy (eg Endnotes, Ill Will Editions, etc) and Lenin.

[In 1906, Lenin articulated the Party approach to partisan actions in a short article titled ‘Partisan War’ or ‘Partisan Warfare.’ This title is usually translated into English as ‘Guerrilla War,’ but this is a little misleading. The word ‘guerrilla’ comes from Spanish and is used in western European countries, and anglophone countries, in its original form (‘guerrillito’ means ‘little war’). In Russian, the word ‘partisan,’ an important word in the ‘Soviet’ lexicon, is used — not the term guerrilla. Therefore, I have amended the translation below to be true to the original.]

Lenin writes:

“The question of partisan actions is of great interest to our Party and the masses of the workers… In the first place, Marxism differs from all primitive forms of socialism by not binding the movement to any one particular form of struggle. It recognizes the most varied forms of struggle; and it does not ‘concoct’ them, but only generalizes, organizes, gives conscious expression to those forms of struggle of the revolutionary classes which arise of themselves in the course of the movement. Absolutely hostile to all abstract formulas and to all doctrinaire recipes, Marxism demands an attentive attitude to the mass struggle in progress, which, as the movement develops, as the class-consciousness of the masses grows, as economic and political crises become acute, continually gives rise to new and more varied methods of defence and attack. Marxism, therefore, positively does not reject any form of struggle. Under no circumstances does Marxism confine itself to the forms of struggle possible and in existence at the given moment only, recognising as it does that new forms of struggle, unknown to the participants of the given period, inevitably arise as the given social situation, changes. In this respect Marxism learns, if we may so express it, from mass practice, and makes no claim whatever to teach the masses forms of struggle invented by ‘systematizers’ in the seclusion of their studies. We know — said Kautsky, for instance, when examining the forms of social revolution — that the coming crisis will introduce new forms of struggle that we are now unable to foresee.” (Part I)

“We have not the slightest intention of foisting on practical workers any artificial form of struggle, or even of deciding from our armchair what part any particular form of partisan warfare should play in the general course of the civil war in Russia. We are far from the thought of regarding a concrete assessment of particular partisan actions as indicative of a trend in Social-Democracy. But we do regard it as our duty to help as far as possible to arrive at a correct theoretical assessment of the new forms of struggle engendered by practical life. We do regard it as our duty relentlessly to combat stereotypes and prejudices which hamper the class-conscious workers in correctly presenting a new and difficult problem and in correctly approaching its solution.” (Part IV)

Interestingly, if one replaces the word ‘Marxism’ with ‘communization’ this could be an exemplary text of the revolutionary milieu that developed the theory of ‘communization’ (for example, Gilles Dauvé, Théorie Communiste, Evan Calder Williams, Léon de Mattis, Endnotes, etc. (Perhaps one could also replace the word Marxism with ‘destituent partisanship’ to see how the text fits with Agambenist perspectives.)

Even more interestingly, if one reads the above, then reads the article Revolutionary Motives by Jasper Bernes in Endnotes 5, particularly the last couple or so pages (“hijacking trucks,” etc), one can see how close Endnotes (and others, such as Ill Will Editions) are to Lenin in their perspectives on how to engage with ‘the class’ in revolt. If present day communist theorists begin at the same point that Lenin did, then why might they be any different in the long-term, or if ‘successful’?

adri

4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

TH

Lenin's text below contradicts R Totale's assessment above, and is useful in investigating the similarities between current communist rhetoric/strategy (eg Endnotes, Ill Will Editions, etc) and Lenin.

Just fyi that's Dauve and not Roman Totale; the latter just didn't put it in quotation marks or explicitly attribute it to Dauve for whatever reason

Tom Henry

4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Thanks for pointing that out. My point still stands ofc.

adri

4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I agree with TH about reading Lenin, or anyone you choose to disagree with. However I think Lenin and the Bolsheviks before seizing power is a bit different from Lenin and the Bolsheviks after seizing power. I think you could actually find a number of "libertarian" writings in Lenin before the October Revolution, such as his description of the dual power situation in Russia (i.e. the soviets versus the bourgeois Provisional Government) that arose after the abdication of Nicholas II, and especially Lenin’s calls for "all power to the soviets" in the April Theses and elsewhere. Regarding the dual power situation, and the Bolsheviks’ reluctance to grab power from the Provisional Government without popular support, Lenin for example wrote, "We are not Blanquists, we do not stand for the seizure of power by a minority. We are Marxists, we stand for proletarian class struggle against petty-bourgeois intoxication, against chauvinism-defencism [i.e. some socialists’ support for Russia’s involvement in the Great War/WWI], phrase-mongering and dependence on the bourgeoisie." Of course there are the eternal debates about whether the reactionary turn after seizing power (the undermining of the organs of workers’ power which Lenin had at first supported, Kronstadt etc.) was caused more by the objective conditions, such as the Civil War and the failure of revolution to spread, or by the people in power (which I kind of think is a mix of both). It also wasn’t like the Bolsheviks didn’t have popular support in overthrowing the Provisional Government (even from anarchists for a short time after); support for the Bolsheviks had been steadily growing.

There were of course more moderate "socialists" who argued against seizing power and that Russia was too backward for proletarian revolution (which we need not really worry about today!). Interestingly Herzen and Marx, as far as the 19th century is concerned, saw potential in the development of the Russian mir/obshchina to directly transform to a socialist society while avoiding, in Marx’s words, "all the fatal vicissitudes of the capitalist regime." It's worth pointing out that Marx really wasn't the first to see potential in the Russian mir, and that this was a popular idea with the populists/narodniks. (Marx by the way also mentions "1861" in the letter, which was when serfs were emancipated.) Herzen for instance, who influenced the narodnik movement, and which itself would later develop into the Socialist Revolutionary Party (popular among peasants), praised the Russian mir by writing in an 1856 article entitled "Forward! Forward!" (at the end of the Crimean War), "Our peculiarity, our originality is the village [mir] with its communal self-governance, with the peasants' meetings, with delegates, with the absence of personal land ownership, with the division of fields according to number of households. Our rural commune has survived the era of difficult state growth in which communes generally perished and has remained whole in double chains, preserved under the blows of the owner's stick [i.e. serfdom, which still existed in 1856] and the bureaucrat's theft." The Russian mir itself, which existed through serfdom, had its own issues, particularly its patriarchal structure with male village elders at the top (who were also the chief decision-makers), in addition to generational conflicts between villagers, all of which were arguably exacerbated under serfdom and by the demands of lords.

Red Marriott

4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Yet again, TH’s idealism at work; his conclusions about the Bolsheviks are based solely on their writings, totally divorced from their actual social practice – a completely ideological assessment trapped in the detached world of ideas. This is the worst approach to understanding the Bolsheviks and their historical agency. It’s like the academic history that judges events and actors solely by official documents and official institutions. TH has an ideology to realise; to map the supposed continuum between all revolutionary thought, leninist and anti-leninist alike – so as to try to justify his own reformist turn. Just as shabby as the right wing fake amalgams.

We've seen ex-Class War members supporting Farage's UKIP, Schmidt the anarcho-syndicalist revisionist pseudo-historian turning racist, Aufheben's Dr J’s academic career aiding police tactics and being defended for it, various 'anarchists' supporting Corbyn's Labour party, various ultra-lefts mirroring the far-right in being anti-distancing/anti-vax etc... Is there any definite common pattern to this? Only, perhaps, desperation to seek a sense of identity to replace the failure of class struggle to deliver the change and solidarity people collectively hoped for and once got from it. Identity – whether behind the new leftist messiah, nationalism, whiteness, an academic niche role or heroic defenders of humanity against Big Pharma poisons etc – is a shared security of the like-minded in an insecure world. People seek a practice for their ideological beliefs and as that has become harder for genuinely radical views they will resort to the pseudo-radical or worse; this necessarily means suppressing contradictions, criticisms and doubts and overriding them with the new-found passion for a shared Cause.

Tom Henry

4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Red Marriott, whoever you are, you do seem to hate me. That’s fine of course, and as I have said I don’t expect anyone here to agree with anything I am saying, since it goes against what Libcom stands for.

But you are quite wrong in your assumption that I am trying to justify my reformist turn with the use of various texts. One would see this if one read what I have written on here and elsewhere a bit more carefully.

What has actually happened - as I have written elsewhere - is that the reformist turn I have taken has come about through my years of investigation into all this stuff - see my book which (via the directly anthropological stuff (population, etc)) is the major step I made toward where I am now. Fascinatingly, for me, and as I think I have also written elsewhere, I never expected to come to this position. (And I thought that this was worth sharing with the milieu I once associated with.)

But the thing that has really cemented this position for me has been my recent investigations of the links between Bachofen, Benjamin, Heidegger, Agamben, and Camatte. I found Camatte’s willingness to work with the extreme right to get his work published - since the early 1970s ffs - to be shocking. I then was able to work out why such alliances were made possible through his ‘politics.’ At the same time the whole farce of Agamben’s covidskepticism, shared by Frere Dupont/Monsieur Dupont, just put the last pieces into place.

So, I think your interpretation of ‘me’ is far too crude and simplistic, as well as being irrelevant. To reduce all this stuff to some kind of character analysis of me misses (perhaps deliberately?) the uncomfortable connections I have made between millenarianism (communism) and the enabling of reaction. Instead of character analysing ‘me’ it is better to just say I am wrong, with proper evidence, of course, if possible.

But, having said this, i didn’t really expect anything other than your kind of response on a place like here, and indeed, I am surprised that the usual people have not just sworn at me. Although the “mic drop” comment (I pictured Chelsea Peretti from Brooklyn 99 in the ‘if I had a mic, I’d drop it now’ scene) did make me laugh.
Anyway, all the best.

R Totale

4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I don't think what RM writes comes off as being hateful as such. Certainly, it is very strongly critical of your ideas, but you've certainly written your fair share of stuff that's been very strongly critical of other people's ideas in the past, and indeed up to this day: does that mean that you hate us millenarians?
Can't say I know much about Bachofen, but are you implicating Benjamin as sharing the undesirable associations of Heidegger/Agamben/Camatte there?
And as others have pointed out, I don't think that you have shown there's anything unique in milennarism/communism and the enabling of reaction, as it's just as easy to find examples of social democrats or liberals enabling reaction. Or indeed of reactionaries enabling liberals, or social democrats enabling liberals, or communists enabling social democrats, etc.

Red Marriott

4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Seems like you can dish it out but can't take it; cries of "hatred" at the sight of any criticism - when your whole persona and stance has been extremely vocal criticism of others for decades.

As RT says, your claim that because Camatte & co has apparently had associations with the far-right then all of communist thought is tainted is absurd - as absurd as claiming that, cos anti-semitic/racist views can be found among the writings of Marx & Bakunin, that all the movements derived from them in 180 yrs since are tainted with that.

As RT says, many more similar associations could be found from the reformist leftism you now choose to align with but you happily turn a blind eye to that.
TH

But the thing that has really cemented this position for me has been my recent investigations of the links between Bachofen, Benjamin, Heidegger, Agamben, and Camatte. I found Camatte’s willingness to work with the extreme right to get his work published - since the early 1970s ffs - to be shocking. I then was able to work out why such alliances were made possible through his ‘politics.’ At the same time the whole farce of Agamben’s covidskepticism, shared by Frere Dupont/Monsieur Dupont, just put the last pieces into place.

Yet again, this is a purely ideological judgement. Most communists, even if they took some influence from those writers, would condemn any far right associations. To claim this as proof of irredeemable pollution of revolutionary thought is ridiculously over-blown and self-serving. To "put the last pieces into place" you've had to get your knife out and carve some odd shapes to make them appear to fit; which is why I say this amalgam bodge is really only an attempt at self-justification. You're the only one here moving rightward.

Tom Henry

4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I have written a lot elsewhere that you two have not read, and if you read that stuff you might see how it fits together and what I am arguing. Again, though, I don’t expect you to agree with it. I am also not asking you to read it, but it’s there if anyone else is interested.

On ‘moving rightward’ - the libertarian communist position surely sees itself as neither Left nor Right - or rather beyond the Left? Indeed, the anti-left Marxists see themselves as such, and Frere Dupont writes, as I am sure you would agree (and I certainly now don’t): “we must transcend the left.”

But maybe you see yourselves as ‘far left’? If you describe yourself as ‘ultra-left’ then maybe that also means transcending the Left? If you describe yourselves as anarchist then that is a transcendence of the Left from the get-go?

I presume we all know where the terms Left and Right wing come from? My argument now is that to abandon work within the ‘left wing’ is to leave the field open to reaction. And I have explained why I think this in the few twitter threads I have written.

To be clear then: I have moved from a position favoring transcending ‘the left’ (the libertarian communist position) to the Left itself, this is not “moving rightward” - or it is under your perspective if you think I was far left previously, or if you think you are far left now. My previous criticisms of the kind of ‘libertarian communism’ expressed on this site were all grounded in what I saw as a failure of logic here. That is, I thought people here generally mixed up their categories, and therefore failed to be coherent. I still think this, but I no longer care about it, because I disagree with my previous position. However, in your “move rightward” you once again mix up categories and lose coherence, unless you advocate working within the left (by which I mean any and all movements for as much social justice as we can get) for reforms while keeping the (hopeless) dream of communism as a secret desire which affects no one. My arguments here have ever only been about logic and working out where things lead.

When I wrote “you seem to hate me” it wasn’t a ‘cry of hatred’ as you hyperbolically interpreted it - I think you need to be less defensive and lighten up a bit :) . I don’t care if you criticise what I write (and if the criticism is valid/relevant I will take it on board) but I do think you should criticise what I actually write, and not make assumptions or create an image of my, or anyone’s, supposed character.
But no worries.
Although, as we are now talking in circles there is no point going any further.
Best.

Khawaga

4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

What's the over/under on Tom's next "conversion ". Last time he railed against everyone for not really getting real subsumption, this time for reading too little Camatte and Heidegger. Next time, Tom will have found Jesus.

radicalgraffiti

4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Tom Henry

On ‘moving rightward’ - the libertarian communist position surely sees itself as neither Left nor Right - or rather beyond the Left? Indeed, the anti-left Marxists see themselves as such, and Frere Dupont writes, as I am sure you would agree (and I certainly now don’t): “we must transcend the left.”

But maybe you see yourselves as ‘far left’? If you describe yourself as ‘ultra-left’ then maybe that also means transcending the Left? If you describe yourselves as anarchist then that is a transcendence of the Left from the get-go?

if someone uses "the left" to mean the broad political grouping in society that identifies as left and has certain shared pariaxis (mainly voting with a bit of unions) then it makes sense to say anarchists/the ultra left/etc are out side this
but if someone is talking about the relative political positions of groups/people etc, it makes perfects sense to say that anarchists/the ultra left are positioned left of "the left", that they take left wing ideas farther etc
this also corresponds to popular usage where ideas like communism, workers control etc are universally seen as "left", and given that terms like left, ultra left, anarchism etc are not precisely defined technical terms i'm not sure what the problem with using them this way, which everyone understands, is

radicalgraffiti

4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Tom Henry

Yes, indeed! What I am saying is that we can understand how they work and how we are deeply part of them (we are them, in fact), but we cannot dissolve them or transcend them, and so, with this knowledge we must work out how best to work within them. We cannot escape this way of living, and so we must try to make it as 'palatable' as possible, which requires being involved at all levels to protect and enhance 'social justice.'

Whatever we do - whether it be stage 'a dictatorship of the proletariat,' become 'destituent partisans,' or work, reformingly, for social justice - we help capitalism develop. We can do nothing else, since capital is our society, it is us, we are its subject and its motor.

(Of course, I don't expect anyone here to agree with any, or much, let alone all, of this.)

so why is this any more the case than it was in any proceeding form of society? why is this the end of history?

Red Marriott

4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

TH

So, I think your interpretation of ‘me’ is far too crude and simplistic, as well as being irrelevant. To reduce all this stuff to some kind of character analysis of me misses (perhaps deliberately?) the uncomfortable connections I have made between millenarianism (communism) and the enabling of reaction.

You seem to be trying dress up a dull banality – that political allegiances have always shifted in sometimes seemingly contradictory and myriad paths – as some new unique revelation. The only person likely to claim to be “shocked” or made “uncomfortable” by this is you. Maybe that’s your new specialist pet theme now you’ve discarded the old Nih-comm/Dupont line. Maybe that will curry favour among social democrats you want to be close to and your forthcoming book will be an expose of this great non-revelation eagerly applauded by reformists who want simplistic criticisms of revolutionary theory.

I have written a lot elsewhere that you two have not read, and if you read that stuff you might see how it fits together and what I am arguing.

You’ve written a lot here in earlier posts and then quickly deleted it because it’s part of your forthcoming book. Why – some weird marketing strategy for the great masterwork?

All the hairsplitting semantics about left/right; usage of these terms varies in their context, such as left & right wings within a party or movement, wherever they might fall on the wider political spectrum. Applying it to a shift from revolutionary to reformist positions is easily understandable to most people. Regarding your own shift, I think you just don’t like hearing it said out loud so try to gloss it up as something else. [Edit: better explained by radicalgraffitti above]

Instead of character analysing ‘me’ it is better to just say I am wrong, with proper evidence, of course, if possible.

The evidence for ‘my’ :) criticisms is in your posts on this thread, that’s what I’ve dealt with – while you’ve only responded by moaning at being criticised. BTW, you’ve produced no evidence here for your own claims. But whether or not an obscure 85 yr old (ex-)marxist who’s lived for decades on a remote French farm used a right wing publisher in the 70s is not going to alter, for most people, the history of radical anarchist/communist theory much at all; it isn’t gonna bring down the whole edifice like a house of cards and leave you triumphant atop the rubble. If you think many people will be made “uncomfortable” by that you’re utterly deluded and your assessment is distorted by your intellectual obsession with abstract ideas and their producers.

But yes, off you go Tom – you have a book to peddle to social democrats and Trots.

Red Marriott

4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Khawaga

Next time, Tom will have found Jesus.

My money's on the Greens or Lib Dems. Or Tom decides he IS Jesus.

comradeEmma

4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I think you could actually find a number of "libertarian" writings in Lenin before the October Revolution, such as his description of the dual power situation in Russia (i.e. the soviets versus the bourgeois Provisional Government) that arose after the abdication of Nicholas II, and especially Lenin’s calls for "all power to the soviets" in the April Theses and elsewhere.

How was the description of the "dual power" situation or wanting a majority mandate from the soviets "libertarian"?

adri

4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I’m guessing your objection is to me "dragging Lenin’s name through the dirt" by associating his pre-October writings with the word "libertarian"? I was using it kind of loosely to describe Lenin’s emphasis on the organs of workers’ power (soviets, factory committees etc.) against the Provisional Government (especially his calls for "all power to the soviets"), and the Bolsheviks’ reluctance to overthrow the Provisional Government as a minority party.

We could take Alexander Berkman saying the same if you like (the other bits of which I do not agree with): "Together with their opposition to the Constituent Assembly the Bolsheviki borrowed from the Anarchist arsenal a number of other militant tactics. Thus they proclaimed the great war cry, 'All power to the Soviets,' advised the workers to ignore and even defy the Provisional Government, and to resort to direct mass action to carry out their demands. At the same time they also adopted the Anarchist methods of the general strike and energetically agitated for the ‘expropriation of the expropriators.'"

Tom Henry

3 months 4 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

radicalgraffit wrote:

Tom Henry wrote:
"Yes, indeed! What I am saying is that we can understand how they work and how we are deeply part of them (we are them, in fact), but we cannot dissolve them or transcend them, and so, with this knowledge we must work out how best to work within them. We cannot escape this way of living, and so we must try to make it as 'palatable' as possible, which requires being involved at all levels to protect and enhance 'social justice.'
Whatever we do - whether it be stage 'a dictatorship of the proletariat,' become 'destituent partisans,' or work, reformingly, for social justice - we help capitalism develop. We can do nothing else, since capital is our society, it is us, we are its subject and its motor.

(Of course, I don't expect anyone here to agree with any, or much, let alone all, of this.)"

so why is this any more the case than it was in any proceeding form of society? why is this the end of history?

(Most of the below is from an article of mine on the Ill Will Editions website (things can be found if one looks). I was amazed that they published two of my articles there since both articles were against their central project, and against Camatte. Eventually, I asked them to remove the articles as the site contains a lot of silly academic and Heideggerian/Agambenist stuff which I did not want to be associated with, but they refused, I think as a kind of punishment! So, they are still there, which is now highly amusing for me.)

Is it not the case that every escape from capital or the State, or things as they are, every sect, or movement — from the Vikings who escaped the burgeoning power of Harald Finehair’s expanding kingdom by settling in Iceland, to the tragedy of Jonestown — that has gone somewhere else to found a new world has just brought the sickness with them?

The problem is centred on whether one can will a genuine change in one’s life, as an individual or as a group. If one is willing the change then it is logical to assume that the imagining of the change emerges from the very circumstances of the thing one is opposing – the desired change is bound by the parameters of the original thing one is trying to escape. We are social beings, we are socially constructed, we can only see the world through our own perspective, though we can recognise that there may be other perspectives.

It is useful here, in order to explain what I mean, to think about how the concept of time is perceived in two different eras: the modern era (capitalism), and the European Middle Ages (feudalism).

We can, for example, understand when someone tells us that medieval peasants lived by a cyclical calendar derived from agrarian existence but, despite this, we are unable to view time as a rotation because we cannot look up from this page and comfortably accept, or throw out the notion, that time is not linear. As historian A. J. Gurevich [‘Categories of Medieval Culture,’ 1971] writes of the transition from feudal to urban capitalist conceptions of time: “The alienation of time from its concrete content raised the possibility of viewing it as a pure categorical form, as duration unburdened by matter.” It was the success of the modern economy, which needed coordination to operate efficiently, that changed our conception of time. It was the introduction of supply chains, distribution, and factory work, culminating in railway timetables, that led to the abandonment of any sense that time was ‘cyclical,’ ‘seasonal,’ or connected to the earth. This linear expression of time is now hard-wired into our brains because it reflects our everyday existence, therefore this interpretation of time also affects how we act in the world. How we are created is how we create.

We cannot see through the eyes of a person inhabiting a different mode of living. Our consciousness is determined by the daily life we live, and the principles and values generated by and acting upon this actual daily existence. Once a society is established, then that society becomes an organic whole, a mode of living (not necessarily an ‘economy’). A twenty-first century Parisian can as little decide to understand time as cyclical as a medieval European peasant could decide to understand time as a separate linear category of the universe.

One can also see how change in oneself is often impossible through simple willing. Genuine, grief, over the death of a loved one, for example, cannot just be wished away, it slowly lessens over time, or is forgotten in other pursuits (as long as those pursuits are not taken up specifically to forget about one’s grief, in which case the pursuit itself is a constant reminder). Therefore, it would be true to say that the solution to disabling grief does not come from our thinking about it and putting it into perspective, but from time. Genuine changes — or solutions — are always delivered to us on levels other than our conscious willing.

In an articulation, or extension, of Marx’s historical materialist proposition — “People make their own history, but they do not make it freely, and not in circumstances of their choosing, but under circumstances that are proximate, pre-existing, and handed-down” — the Marxist scholar Ernest Mandel formulated the term parametric determinism. This is a useful concept to utilise when thinking about the limits of our possible understandings of other eras, or other cultures… or other animals. He argues:

“Most, if not all, historical crises have several possible outcomes, not innumerable fortuitous or arbitrary ones; that is why we use the expression ‘parametric determinism’ indicating several possibilities within a given set of parameters.” (Mandel, 1989, MIA)

We could substitute the words ‘historical crises’ with ‘situations,’ or even ‘imaginings.’ The point being that we are products of the society we are born into. We cannot simply will ourselves to be the products or functions (or reproducers) of another society (for example, ‘a truly communist’ society), no matter how close we feel to understanding the particular social organisation we are observing or considering. Radical changes in society – such as the transition from feudalism to capitalism - do not happen via human will, they happen on other levels. The revolutions that made capitalism official – such as the English, French, and Russian – were the institutionalising, or ratifying, of an economic force that had already achieved actual predominance.

The difference between life in a civilized society and life ‘before’ civilization’ is that in civilization there is constant social discontent. This is because hierarchy and exploitation are built in to civilized society. It as never the choice of a non-State society to become civilized, it was forced upon them by circumstances beyond their control – either population growth that could not be controlled, or in our own times, colonization.

The latest variant of civilization utilises the discontent in the most democratic way, enabling it to inform actions at all levels of society, thus creating a situation of constant technological and social revolution. But this is never a revolution that does away with capital (our society) itself, since we are unable to do that. If ever civilization (or capitalism) disappears it will not be because a group of people, or a mass movement has willed it. We are the functions of civilization (or capital) and our antagonism toward our situation is one of the key motors of capitalism – it is used by capital (that is we use it for and against ourselves). This is one of the striking things that makes our present society different from all previous civilizations. Antagonism has been democratized, fully and effectively. But no one planned this.

There has never been a case of humans in a society escaping or abandoning the essence of their society – it cannot be done, because the humans involved are the society. (Don’t believe the stupid academic rubbish, or general idea, that implies that ‘cavemen’ were just waiting for fire, agriculture, and refrigeration, etc.)

So, no one decided we would have a capitalist society (see ‘What is so Special about Relative Surplus Value?’[unpublished] and ‘The Freedom of Things,’ etc). But people have decided (as they have done since Zoroaster, that is, since the beginning of the State) that we should have a communist society (in macro or micro form, eg, Russia or Münster). And each time, of course, what has been created has been an extension or variant of civilization/capitalism.

Khawaga

3 months 4 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

So Tom is now just become a full on apologist for the way things are. Not only that, this is an expression of some essential feature of "civilization". I guess now I understand how all of those Trots ended up as neo-cons.

adri

3 months 4 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

TH

(Most of the below is from an article of mine on the Ill Will Editions website (things can be found if one looks).

Sorry I'm slow (and was too busy squabbling over academics... and the strange association of class struggle with a socialist/revolutionary perspective) is Tom Henry one of the Monsieur Dupont people, Peter Harrison? This is the article I think he's just mentioned, https://illwill.com/the-gemeinwesen-has-always-been-here-an-engagement-with-the-ideas-of-jacques-camatte. If so, what's up with all the pseudonyms?

TH

We cannot escape this way of living, and so we must try to make it as 'palatable' as possible, which requires being involved at all levels to protect and enhance 'social justice.'

TH

If ever civilization (or capitalism) disappears it will not be because a group of people, or a mass movement has willed it.

Anywho, it's a pretty unconvincing kind of pessimism (economic determinism?) to say that all we can do under capitalism is "try to make it as 'palatable' as possible," with no possibility of transcending it through our own actions, especially when one considers how capitalist social relations have already spread throughout most of the world.

So what exactly is the agent of change, if all we can do is just "improve" our conditions under capitalism via various forms of "social justice," voting for the "lesser evil," etc.?

Tom Henry

3 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

‘The agents of change’ are us and everyone - but the change cannot be a change to a new society, it can only be a reform of the one we are the functions and motors of.

As I argue elsewhere, and as Camatte/Bordiga/Agamben etc confirm, the attachment to a ‘revolutionary communist’ position/perspective leads to inactivity and irrelevance, and worse, the 'enabling' of reaction (eg as Camatte says, anti-fascism is worse than fascism).

Tom Henry

3 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Below, for example is Frere Dupont on his Nihcom blogspot (I have never had anything to do with this blog, btw, or any of his others).

FD appears to have now given up writing anti-left essays, as he says, but perhaps the territory is already owned by @BCryptofash, @ELLange6, and Aimee Terese?
FD writes:

“There won’t be any more attempts at theory. Just a few random notes. Nobody wants to read another essay on why leftists are moronic, or why antifascism is a trick, or why exported US anti-racism is the cutest mystification yet of US imperialism. There isn’t going to be anything like that. No more essays. Just notes. Just that. Nothing else.”

Firstly, I am sure plenty of people want to read more articles on “why leftists are moronic” - the far-right would love them, as would conservative Christians, anti-feminists, those who are anti-gay marriage (eg Camatte), anti-abortion, indeed all the traditionalists who complain at ‘modernity,’ which includes much of the revolutionary communist milieu – there is much to complain of in ‘modernity,’ but we are stuck with it, and those who would attempt to replace it would give us regimes like Stalinist Russia, Nazi Germany, or Afghanistan under the Taliban.

Secondly, I am presuming that the assertion that “anti-fascism is a trick” means that it is a trick to stop revolutionaries being revolutionary. Which is what Bordiga and Camatte insist too. They were right, but it is a 'trick' that is beneficial to us. Better to be anti-fascist than to be silent and hopeful in one’s prayers for communism.

I don’t know what is meant by “exported US anti-racism is the cutest mystification yet of US imperialism” - certainly the US has a hegemony in the distribution of ideas, and all our ideas end up in the service of our hierarchical and exploitative society, But I suspect that it is really just another way of saying ‘anti-racism is bad,’ in the same way as saying ‘anti-fascism is worse than fascism.’

Ultimately, it is difficult to find any effective difference between the anti-left politics of FD and others, and the far-right and Christian conservatives.

#

An early version of the current anti-left Marxism is to be found in parts of the writings and trajectory of the UK group, Wildcat, in the 1980s. They produced the text Outside and Against the Unions – looking at this now one might almost think that it was written by Margaret Thatcher in order to further destabilize the unions, put radicals off actually doing anything, and stem any chance of effective/useful working-class intervention in society. (I am told that one of the key members eventually actually became a fascist, but I can’t verify this, so if anyone can correct me?) Wildcat were also anti-democracy and anti-anti-fascist…

(The best thing we can do in society politically is defend pluralist democracy, so being anti-democracy just adds to the Trumpist rhetoric – read Jan-Werner Müller’s ‘What is Populism?’)

R Totale

3 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Tom Henry

Firstly, I am sure plenty of people want to read more articles on “why leftists are moronic” - the far-right would love them, as would conservative Christians, anti-feminists, those who are anti-gay marriage (eg Camatte), anti-abortion, indeed all the traditionalists who complain at ‘modernity,’ which includes much of the revolutionary communist milieu – there is much to complain of in ‘modernity,’ but we are stuck with it.

What role does the unlimited consumption of fossil fuels play in modernity, in your estimation? Do you honestly think that's something we're "stuck with" indefinitely?

Secondly, I am presuming that the assertion that “anti-fascism is a trick” means that it is a trick to stop revolutionaries being revolutionary. Which is what Bordiga and Camatte insist too. They were right, but it is a 'trick' that is beneficial to us. Better to be anti-fascist than to be silent and hopeful in one’s prayers for communism.

Fwiw, I was never "anti-anti-fascist", I always thought that that was a label that could cover a wide range of different positions and so it was better to explore what was actually meant rather than just taking the brand name at face value and then making sweeping generalisations. I see that your recent ideological developments have not affected your fondness for such generalisations, though.

I don’t know what is meant by “exported US anti-racism is the cutest mystification yet of US imperialism” - certainly the US has a hegemony in the distribution of ideas, and all our ideas end up in the service of our hierarchical and exploitative society.

I mean, for someone as intelligent and thoughtful as you would appear to be, I would have thought it was pretty obvious. The US is a place with a particular racial order, and strains of anti-racist thought that, while they vary in quality, have arisen in response to that particular racial order; attempting to apply those forms of anti-racist thought in European contexts, let alone Asian or African ones, can lead to serious distortions, and ultimately serious distortions that reflect the old assumptions of American exceptionalism, importance, etc.

An early version of the current anti-left Marxism is to be found in parts of the writings and trajectory of the UK group, Wildcat, in the 1980s. They produced the text Outside and Against the Unions – looking at this now one might almost think that it was written by Margaret Thatcher in order to further destabilize the unions, put radicals off actually doing anything, and stem any chance of effective/useful working-class intervention in society. (I am told that one of the key members eventually actually became a fascist, but I can’t verify this, so if anyone can correct me?)

Having looked around a bit, you can check the wildcat (dot) international site if you want to see where they ended up.

Fozzie

3 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

There's a summary of Wildcat's evolution here:
https://libcom.org/library/wildcat-uk-magazine

"Another World Is Impossible" is not what I was expecting and I don't agree, obviously. Most of us probably are doing things that make existing society more tolerable for some people though?

R Totale

3 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Reformist defenders of pluralist democracy must say what only reformist defenders of pluralist democracy can say

Battlescarred

3 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Very early on Sunday morning before last, I went for a walk around Soho in the very crisp and bright dawning. I visited the house where Hazlitt, the great radical journalist, died in poverty in 1830 and later on the walk, I visited the memorial slab to Hazlitt in the grounds of St. Ann's Church. Unlike the poets Coleridge, Southey and Wordsworth, who he knew, Hazlitt remained committed to radical ideas until his death.

On Wordsworth and Godwin: 'Throw aside your books of chemistry,' said Wordsworth to a young man, a student in the Temple, 'and read Godwin on Necessity.' Sad necessity! Fatal reverse! Is truth then so variable? Is it one thing at twenty end another at forty? Is it at a burning heat in 1793, and below zero in 1814? Not so, in the name of manhood and of common sense! Let us pause here a little. Mr. Godwin indulged in extreme opinions, and carried with him all the most sanguine and fearless understandings of the time. What then? Because those opinions were overcharged, were they therefore altogether groundless? Is the very God of our idolatry all of a sudden to become an abomination and an anathema? Could so many young men of talent, of education, and of principle have been hurried away by what had neither truth nor nature, not one particle of honest feeling nor the least show of reason in it? Is the Modern Philosophy (as it has been called) at one moment a youthful bride and the next a withered beldame, like the false Duessa in Spenser? Or is the vaunted edifice of Reason, like his House of Pride, gorgeous in front, and dazzling to approach, while 'its hinder parts are ruinous, decayed and old'? Has the main prop, which supported the mighty fabric, been shaken, and given way under the strong grasp of some Samson, or has it not rather been undermined by rats and vermin? At one time, it almost seemed, that 'if this failed,

The pillar'd firmament was rottenness
And earth's base built of stubble.'

and on Southey: Mr. Southey, as we formerly remember to have seen him, had a hectic flush upon his check, a roving fire in his eye, a falcon glance, a look at once aspiring and dejected. It was the look that had been impressed upon his face by the events that marked the outset of his life. It was the dawn of Liberty that still tinged his cheek, a smile betwixt hope and sadness that still played upon his quivering lip. Mr. Southey's mind is essentially sanguine, even to overweeningness. It is prophetic of good; it cordially embraces it; it casts a. longing, lingering look after it, even when it is gone for ever. He cannot bear to give up the thought of happiness, his confidence in his fellow-man, when all else despair. It is the very element, 'where he must live or have no life at all.' While he supposed it possible that a better form of society could be introduced than any that had hitherto existed, while the light of the French Revolution beamed into his soul (and long after, it was seen reflected on his brow, like the light of setting suns on the peak of some high mountain, or lonely range of clouds, floating in purer ether!) -- while he had this hope, this faith in man left, he cherished it with child-like simplicity, he clung to it with the fondness of a lover. He was an enthusiast, a, fanatic, a leveller; he stuck at nothing that he: thought would banish all pain, and misery from the world; in his impatience of the smallest error or injustice, he would have sacrificed himself and the existing generation (a holocaust) to his devotion to the right cause. But when he once believed after many staggering doubts and painful struggles, that this was no longer possible, when his chimeras and golden dreams of human perfectibility vanished from him, he turned suddenly round, and maintained that 'whatever is, is right.' ...His opinions are like certain wines, warm and generous when new; but they will not keep, and soon turn flat or sour, for want of a stronger spirit of the understanding to give a body to them. He wooed Liberty as a youthful lover, but it was perhaps more as a mistress than a bride; and he has since wedded with an elderly and not very reputable lady, called Legitimacy.
And on Coleridge: He hailed the rising orb of liberty, since quenched in darkness and in blood, and had kindled his affections at the blaze of the French Revolution, and sang for joy, when the towers of the Bastille and the proud places of the insolent and the oppressor fell, and would have floated his bark, freighted with fondest fancies, across the Atlantic wave with Southey and others to seek for peace and freedom . . .

Alas! "Frailty, thy name is Genius!" What is become of all this mighty heap of hope, of thought, of learning and humanity? It has ended in swallowing doses of oblivion and in writing paragraphs in the Courier. Such and so little is the mind of man!

He has sunk into torpid, uneasy repose, tantalized by useless resources, haunted by vain imaginings, his lips idly moving, but his heart for ever still, or, as the shattered chords vibrate of themselves, making melancholy music to the car of memory! Such is the fate of genius in an age when every man is ground to powder who is not either a born slave, or who does not willingly and at once offer up the yearnings of humanity and the dictates of reason as a welcome sacrifice to besotted prejudice and loathsome power.

The poets, the creatures of sympathy, could not stand the frowns both of king and people. They did not like to be shut out when places and pensions, when the critic's praises, and the laurel wreath were about to be distributed. They did not stomach being sent to Coventry, and Mr Coleridge sounded a retreat for them by the help of casuistry and a musical voice. "His words were hollow, but they pleased the ear" of his friends of the Lake School, who turned back disgusted and panic-struck from the dry desert of unpopularity, like Hassan the camel-driver.

Tom Henry

3 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

We are slaves in slave world, while it is sometimes useful to read what ‘great thinkers’ (other slaves), or anyone, may have written, it is best not to romanticize or demonize them as persons.

William Hazlitt, despite being almost constantly in debt, was a central cultural figure in early 19th century Britain, and it seems that twenty-odd years ago he became a little fashionable again in the UK (his gravestone was restored by the philosopher AC Grayling and others, and unveiled in 2003 by Michel Foot). Anyway, his apparent misogyny led him to prefer the company of prostitutes because they were lower class, and his use of them seems to have continued throughout his life (maybe this contributed to his financial woes). He also idolized Napoleon Bonaparte (the inheritor of Jacobinism), and in his last years produced a massive biography of the French leader.

So, as might be the case with Sartre (apologist for Leninism/Stalinism), one can read some of what Sartre wrote (I choose not to), but one, surely, would not weep sentimentally for him at his graveside?

Battlescarred

3 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Who said anyone was weeping sentimentally? A nice little diversion involving character assassination and Hazlitt's unfortunate worship of Napoleon to distract from the apposite observations on those red-hot radicals who turned their coats in later life.
Ah, do you remember when you argued vehemently within the ACF that we should not support a victimised member of the Spanish CNT because somehow , in your book, he was a union bureaucrat ( he was secretary of his local CNT branch)? Now we have your pathetic self-justifications for your latest turn, which frankly, no one wants to read.

Battlescarred

3 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

And, as you say as regards Hazlitt -"it is best not to romanticize or demonize them as persons" -he was far from perfect and had misogynist tendencies . He was a product of his times. That doesn't mean that some treasures cannot be found in his writing. If I adopted that attitude to every writer or musician I read or listen to, there would be precious few to enjoy. Anyway, that is by the bye. Hazlitt's comments on Wordsworth and co. still stand up today and fit you to a T.

Red Marriott

3 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

TH is eager to miss the point, the applicability and the truth of Hazlitt's words by trying to distract with comments about Hazlitt's personal imperfections. I doubt TH will try to apply that trick to the left bureaucrats and politicians he's now eager to follow.

Tom Henry

3 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

No, I don’t remember the CNT member thing - but if that’s what I did then I hope the rest of you didn’t go along with me. If that was the case, my arguing against supporting the person, and I am sure you are right that I did that, then I was wrong.

This is the point I am trying to make. At that time I was ‘politically’ ‘outside and against the unions’ (even though I was in a union and have been in a union most my working life, sometimes more active than others - we often say one thing but do another). I was an anarchist-communist/ultra-leftist/millenarian, and by promoting such I was just adding another poison to the social/political water.

On here previously I have argued against the leftism (I think) and the Leninism I saw on here. I still think the Leninism should be interrogated - because one can’t be a millenarian without essentially being a ‘leninist’ - but I was wrong to argue against the ‘leftism’ (I can’t remember, but I’m sure I did). I do remember at the end of my last stint I was supporting the UBI and suggesting how we could all become more effective anti-fascists by dropping our millenarianism (communism/anarchism) and getting involved on any levels we are able to.

birdtiem

3 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Last thing I’ll add to this thread.

I always thought this was the necessary trajectory that led any person to a communist perspective until someone on the internet assured me that it’s not, but for me at least, the political approach Tom Henry is now advocating (basically, ‘the existing society is all we can hope for, but we must advance social justice within the existing society and try to make this society better & more liveable for everybody’) was the one I began with...! It was precisely through trying to pursue social justice through established channels and seeing the results of these efforts (which ranged from ‘failure’ to a worsening of the inequality I was attempting to reduce to ‘the crippling of a popular movement that might have otherwise been capable of forcing concessions on the issue’) that I arrived at more radical views. That was the starting point! That was square one!

I guess there are others who end up becoming radicals because their parents were, or their friends are, or anarchist organizations have some level of visibility where they live and they want to feel a sense of belonging. And fair enough if this is the case and someone reaches a stage in their life where they are finally being fully honest with themselves and that means interrogating what they had previously forced themselves to swallow as political truth. So in a sense, you end up at square one.

But the point I am trying to get at here is that, in any case, it would seem prudent to actually try putting this reformist approach into practice for awhile - long enough to see whether and what kind of fruit it bares before deciding that this strategy is A) possible, B) productive, and C) the only way to effect change for someone concerned with social justice.

That is all.

Tom Henry

3 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Yes. My advice is don’t get lost in a philosophical wonderland of Marxist, anarchist, ultra-leftist, or ‘destituent partisan’ politics (reading shit under the bedsheets at night, or idolizing one’s ‘heroes’); just try harder.

R Totale

3 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

birdtiem

Last thing I’ll add to this thread.

I always thought this was the necessary trajectory that led any person to a communist perspective until someone on the internet assured me that it’s not, but for me at least, the political approach Tom Henry is now advocating (basically, ‘the existing society is all we can hope for, but we must advance social justice within the existing society and try to make this society better & more liveable for everybody’) was the one I began with...! It was precisely through trying to pursue social justice through established channels and seeing the results of these efforts (which ranged from ‘failure’ to a worsening of the inequality I was attempting to reduce to ‘the crippling of a popular movement that might have otherwise been capable of forcing concessions on the issue’) that I arrived at more radical views. That was the starting point! That was square one!

...

But the point I am trying to get at here is that, in any case, it would seem prudent to actually try putting this reformist approach into practice for awhile - long enough to see whether and what kind of fruit it bares before deciding that this strategy is A) possible, B) productive, and C) the only way to effect change for someone concerned with social justice.

That is all.

Thank you for this, I had spent a while this week mentally drafting a post taking Jeremy Corbyn and the issue of nuclear weapons as a case study, but then couldn't be bothered to type it up. But yes, if TH would like to skip the time and effort of putting his approach into practice, it feels like he might try to draw some conclusions from the huge number of people who put a huge amount of effort into that kind of strategy in the UK between 2015-2019. If Camatte and Lasy Rizer/Frere Dupont are enough of a base to draw firm conclusions about milennarianism/communism, then how much more confidently can we draw conclusions from the experience of Corbyn, McDonnell, Abbott, and the tens of thousands of their co-thinkers who went into Momentum?
Tom Henry

just try harder.

Earlier, TH complained/boasted that Red Marriott seemed to hate him; I can't speak for anyone else, but I think there's something really quite adorable about the fresh-faced, starry-eyed zeal of the recent convert, eagerly explaining that he's been practicing his new faith for a good ten minutes now and he hasn't spotted any flaws in it yet. It's hard to know how to react to this stuff except by ruffling his hair and pinching his cheeks. "Just try harder? Gosh, what a clever idea. Did you come up with that all by yourself?"

Red Marriott

3 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

If Tom came up with a new way to tie his shoelaces he'd write a long convoluted book on it and try to sell it as an incredible theoretical breakthrough. Love ya, Tommy ❤️

Tom Henry

3 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

RT wrote:

“I had spent a while this week mentally drafting a post taking Jeremy Corbyn and the issue of nuclear weapons as a case study”

I am amazed that you have spent so much time considering my thoughts. I would have thought they would easily be dismissed here. As I wrote right at the beginning, I would not expect anyone here to agree with much, let alone all, of what I am saying. I am promoting a reformist, as opposed to revolutionary, way of engaging with politics (rebellion rather than revolution).

That you and others have spent time on this and/or got heated about this is fascinating (and funny).

I would have thought that you all (or the main responders) would have said something like: “yeah, the anti-covidskepticism is good, the translated pieces were good, the info about MD was interesting, but as for the rest, we obviously don’t want to hear that because we obviously fundamentally disagree.”

Take it easy folks, and all the best.

R Totale

3 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I mean, you've obviously put time and effort into some of your posts here, so I don't think it's that surprising that people might do the same with their responses? You can fundamentally disagree with what someone says while also finding it interesting to think about why and how you disagree with them.

Tom Henry

3 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Small addition to Post #35.

Tom Henry

3 months 2 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Just adding this final comment, from Twitter, for if anyone is interested.
I won’t be responding to any questions or whatever because there would be no point. Everything is already out there in the world (I don’t mean my meagre stuff) and with a little effort it can be found and read and analyzed. I just thought there might be the slimmest of chances that a few of the few of you who are still here might want to discuss the implications, or otherwise, of the brief comments below, amongst yourselves. Of course, in reality, I realize that the below will be perceived on a place like this as annoying and stupid, but that’s not a problem, issue, or concern for me.
All the best.

On Twitter, ‘Cured Quail’ write:

“the proletariat, state and capital all share a common interest: life in its inverted form. To abolish one was always to abolish them all.”

But what evidence is there for this (sacred?) formulation? Is it not a statement of faith similar to a belief in ‘the afterlife’ or the return of Jesus?

We are socially constructed beings; we are formed by our society (a society of proletarians, a State, and capital). Therefore, how we are created is how we create... but maybe ‘Cured Quail’ are using the dialectic here?

Perhaps they mean that these things that are us (proletarian, State, capital) will be abolished by dialectical forces beyond our conscious will? But it doesn’t sound like it, since they have consciously stated what must be, as if they already know it.

So, the dialectic, if they are using it, is a matter of faith. And if they’re not consciously using it here, then they are repeating the last mantras of a faith that once seemed ‘revolutionary’ but has proven otherwise, except for the pious, who refuse to abandon their church.

‘Cured Quail,’ like ‘Endnotes,’ are among the last limping prophets of proletarian revolution, who now only speak of revolution as a mystical transcendence, which is apparently understood by them and their flock, but which cannot ever be revealed in concrete, non-mystical, terms.

The ‘science’ of revolution (the dialectic) that Marx elaborated has been shown to be quite ‘unscientific,’ and now, after the 20th century, all that is left to the true believers is a retreat into Marxian ecclesiology, communicant gibberish, and a quietist hope.

The sooner that this millenarianism (eg, of Marx; anarchism; the destituent or ‘coming’ politics of Heidegger/Agamben/Tiqqun; Talibanism, etc) is revealed as what it is and then abandoned completely, the better. We have other, less crazy and more useful, things we should be doing.

Khawaga

3 months 1 week ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Ah, Tom it's cute how you try so hard to be serious about your evagelism. Please do come back when you've had your next revelation.

R Totale

3 months 1 week ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The "I won’t be responding to any questions or whatever because there would be no point." is a nice touch. TH has apparently now ditched millennarism but still prefers the style of a Papal pronouncement or Moses descending down the mountain carrying a tablet with "VOTE LABOUR" carved on it over just having a conversation.

rednblackmatb

3 months 1 week ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Sad to see LR has gone down the COVID denier route I always thought he was one of the better ultralefts. Still I guess the ultralefts and the COViD deniers / antivaxxers have a lot in common. Starting with a lack of appreciation for how social democracy and post war liberalism delivered for working class people.